Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading in which we share some of what we’re up to with our writing (when we’re not here) and what we’re into with our reading (around the web). We’ll also pull back the curtain a little to give you a behind-the-scenes look at what went into a piece.
We hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own posts and picks in the comments.
Happy writing! Happy reading!
Jamie Wallace: Although I posted here last Saturday, it seems like this is the first “official” Saturday Edition for 2014. Last weekend was sort of still on the border of the old year, somehow. It felt like a hanger-on, lingering after the party is over, not entirely sure it wants to go home.
But now we are truly into 2014. Most of us have returned to routines and work. I am personally relieved. Though I enjoyed my time off and a whole slew of days with my daughter (including an extra forty-eight hours courtesy of the snow storm), my writing self was craving a return to normalcy. I was dreadfully and desperately overdue for some quiet time. I had work projects to dive back into, but just having the house to myself was a nice change of pace.
Though being a writer does not mean you are automatically tend towards being quiet or solitary, most of the writers I know personally do seem to have these personality traits. Even the most gregarious of my creative friends admit to needing alone time to regroup and renew. That is definitely a theme that is top of mind for me at the moment. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
What I’m Writing:
Though it’s not writing, I did “create” something this week. Well, technically, I curated it. After a long respite, I have returned to Pinterest and rekindled my love for this visual platform. In addition to creating a private board full of images about my personal word of the year, I created a board called “Quiet and Solitude.” I found it strangely soothing to scroll through hundreds of pins with images and sayings about silence and being comfortable in your own company. It is reassuring to know I’m not the only one with these yearnings.
I also wrote a column on the topic of slowing down and reclaiming January.
January, even when its days are full, has always brought a wintry quiet that is a welcome counterpoint to December’s spin cycle of joy. Even though most of us resume normal routines after New Year’s Day, January still seems to be a month in repose, its days stretched long and languorous by the absence of holiday tasks.
To the uninitiated, this shift in energy can come as a bit of a shock. Our tendency is to continue barreling forward, fueled by the momentum of the previous months. We become ambitious cleaners and organizers, dive enthusiastically into planning and new projects, try to catch up on old tasks, or get a head start on new ones.
In short, we completely miss the point. (Read more …)
I also wrote a piece for my marketing blog, The Only Way Your Business Can Compete in 2014. Don’t let the word “business” throw you. This post is (once again) about branding, which is very applicable to the business side of being a writer. Interestingly, the topic of this particular post is about connecting with your “customers” (readers) on an emotional level – something that writers and artists of all kinds are uniquely suited to accomplish. Unlike the B2B companies I work with, artists naturally deal with emotions and know how to create stories and messages that resonate at that level. THAT is exactly what marketers of all kinds – whether for widgets or novels – need to grasp in 2014. So, you’re already ahead of the game. Isn’t that great? 🙂
What I’m Reading:
I have several books going at once at the moment, but the one I’d like to share with you is The Annotated Hobbit (affiliate link).
I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was in the third grade. I have read them numerous times since then, but it’s been a while since I re-read The Hobbit. I bought this annotated edition of Tolkien’s classic last year at this time after seeing the first part of Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy. Last weekend, I went with my parents, beau, and daughter to see the second movie in the Hobbit trilogy and was inspired to (finally) crack the cover on this book and learn more about the story’s history and roots.
I’m only a few pages in, but it has been fascinating to get a behind-the-scenes peek at Tolkien’s life, process, and inspirations. The world of Middle Earth is unquestionably the most detailed fantasy world ever created, but it isn’t until you read about how it came together – piece by piece – that you can really start to get a sense of the work that went into building out the history, mythology, landscapes, languages, culture, and politics. It really does make your head spin.
I’m curious, have you ever read any annotated texts? This is my first, but I may look for others.
I also read a beautiful essay that my friend Tracy Mayor (@mommyprayers) shared on Twitter: The Raven and The Crane was written by Julie Hill Barton for Two Hawks Quarterly. It’s a gift from one writer to another.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- Are you running your personal operating system? by @shaboom – There is a way of working that is just right for you. Do you know what it is?
- 5 New Year’s Resolutions Authors Should Make in 2014 by @ShaneyIrene via @AuthorMedia – Just in case you haven’t already made your promises.
- Writers: How to Gain Confidence with the Container Principle by @spiver – This is sort of a more sophisticated approach to “fake it ’til you make it.”
- The Long Road of Connecting Your Book to Readers by @danblank – A short (but very spot on) video + links to a longer conversation with book marketer, Dan Blank.
- 7 Life Lessons from Einstein You Can Apply to Your Writing via @bookbaby – The guy was a genius!
- The Incredible Eccentricities of 20 Great Writers via Mental Floss – And you thought you were weird …
I also wanted to share a fabulous word count-tracker spreadsheet template that my writer friend Elisa found. It’s built on Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). The spreadsheet lets you tracks your daily word counts and color codes each day based on how many words you log. It gives a beautiful and simple at-a-glance view of your productivity and also helps motivate you. To use, click the link to download and then go to File > Make A Copy and save to your own drive.
Finally, a quote for the week:
Following the theme of quiet and solitude …
Thanks, as always, for sharing part of your weekend with me. I wish you peaceful quiet and creative solitude. See you on the other side!
Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.