Welcome to this Saturday Edition of What We’re Writing and Reading in which I share some of what I’m up to with my writing (when I’m not here) and what I’m reading (between the covers and around the web). I’ll also pull back the curtain for a peek behind-the-scenes.
I 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: Morning. (Yawn). How are you on this fine Saturday? I have to be honest. I’m a little sleepy. I usually like to write these weekend edition posts on Friday afternoon, but this week’s best laid plans fell all to pieces when my daughter’s sniffle landed her on the couch for two days. At the end of the day yesterday I had two options for getting this post done: forgo an evening of relaxation with my beau, a couple Boboli pizzas, and a bottle of chardonnay, or rise and shine extra early this morning. I chose the rise-n-shine option, so … here I am.
And, I have to thank you.
You see, you guys are awesome accountability partners. I love to read and I love to write, but sometimes it’s hard to make time for these things in the midst of my already busy life. Wanting to make sure I have things to share with you on Saturday morning motivates me to eke out an extra bit of reading time reading. It helps keep me on track with my blogging outside this blog and even my column writing. The fact that you are interested enough to show up each week makes me want to show up each week. In short, you inspire me to be here.
So, thank you for helping me up my game. I really appreciate it.
Now, on to the goods for this week:
What I’m Writing:
Over on my marketing blog I wrote a piece called Tell Me Why I Should Care. I took a different approach to my writing style on this one. To be perfectly honest, I was a little stumped for a topic. When you write about the same topic each week for – ahem – years, it can start to become difficult to find a fresh new angle. Sometimes you hit a wall. You get a little burnt out. Last week was one of those weeks.
I just didn’t feel like I could tackle a long-form post, and I didn’t feel terribly inspired. But, as all professional writers know, it’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s about getting the job done by the deadline. So, I puttered around my house a bit and mulled over what was blocking me. I realized that I was having one of those downer moments that come from writing your heart out on a blog, but never seeing the results you hope for. It’s like getting all dressed up for a party, and then no one even knows you’re there.
My blog is an important part of my marketing business. It’s wonderful resource for prospects and clients alike, and I’ve had quite a few posts that have performed decently in terms of shares and comments. But, more often than not, my little blog posts get swallowed up in the echo chamber of the great social media blog promotion machine. It breaks my heart a little, because I really do care about my work and about helping people.
That’s when I landed on the idea for my post – tell me why I should care. The post is a bit of a reminder to myself and also, I hope, a thought-provoking inspiration to others who are trying to make their mark in the online space, or anywhere else for that matter. The piece is short (only 225 words), and written in the form of one side of a conversation. No exposition. No explanation. Just one half of an imagined dialog. It was fun to write, and – I hope – makes my point in a creative and memorable way.
What I’m Reading:
This week I indulged my inner child (and my inner writer who wants to write for children) and enjoyed two fabulous and classic novels by masters of the genre. The first was Eva Ibbotson’s Island of the Aunts (affiliate link). I picked this up hoping my daughter might enjoy it (and I could lure her away from the Hunger Games trilogy). Ibbotson was an Austrian-born British novelist. She passed away in 2010, leaving a rich legacy of children’s and young adult books. I had read reviews in which she was called the “Rowling before there was a Rowling,” and – since my daughter loved the Harry Potter books – I thought I might persuade her to try Ibbotson’s stories.
Though I wasn’t able to compete with Katniss, I was intrigued enough to read Island of the Aunts myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had that slightly old-fashioned feel that often seems part and parcel of British children’s stories. I can imagine the narrator as an older man or woman with a crisp accent, a wry sense of humor, and a knack for delivering back-handed compliments. The story is part adventure and part eco-tale and includes a wild cast of characters who are both startling and charming.
What hooked me was the first line, “Kidnapping children is not a good idea. All the same, sometimes it has to be done.” What a fabulous way to start a story, right?
The second book I picked up was Tove Jansson’s Moominland Midwinter (affiliate link). I had vague memories of reading Moomin books when I was a kid. The illustrations were immediately familiar to me (in fact, I saw a couple that I remember copying into my sketch book), but the stories had long wandered out of my head to make room for other things that, upon reflection, have perhaps turned out to be less worthy.
Jansson, like one of my other favorite authors, James Thurber, does not write “down” to children. Both authors were also artists and, in particular, cartoonists, who had a wonderful way with language and didn’t skimp on their use of it when writing to the younger set. There are bits of humor and wisdom in their books that I’m still discovering at age forty-four, and I expect I will continue to discover new gems long into my golden years.
The Moomin books are set in a land that is at once unspeakably strange, peopled as it is with all manner of oddly named and shaped creatures – Little Creeps, Gaffsies, Grokes, and Fillyjonks – but it is also a place where I feel completely at home. It gives me a sort of, as Douglas Adams liked to say, an “oh, well, that’s alright then,” kind of feeling. I’m looking forward to going back to visit soon via some of the other Moomin books.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- 19 Quirky Conundrums Only Book Lovers Understand via @huffingtonpost A fun little post that’ll make you nod and smile.
- Why Authors, Creatives And Other Introverts Should Consider Public Speaking by @thecreativepenn You may not want to hear it, but this is a reality of the writing/publishing world today.
- 10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal via @99U Steal it, baby, steal it!
- The Questions To Ask BEFORE Asking “How Do I Sell More Books?” by @DanBlank Dan speaks my language in this great post about how to think about your author “brand.”
- 4 Keys to an Authentic Brand by @suzanbond via @MelissaOnline Loved this honest, true story about one entrepreneur was forced to “get real” and how it affected her career in surprising ways.
- The Art and Craft of Retelling Traditional Tales by @SophieMasson1 via @WriterUnboxed Some of my favorite stories are retelling of classic fairytales. Loved this post that talks about how to put that approach to work in your own writing.
- When They Talk About You at #DBW14: You’re Branded by @Porter_Anderson via @WriterUnboxed Porter Anderson is undisputedly one of the best authorities on the world of publishing. This post provides some excellent insight into the state of affairs today and tomorrow.
- I Am Changing How I Use Social Media: MORE Social, LESS Media by @DanBlank If you only read one post this week, make it this one … especially if you’re daunted or confused by social media. You won’t regret it.
- Are the Best Writers Insiders or Outsiders? by @joebunting via @write_practice I’ve been thinking about the whole introvert/extrovert question lately, and this post was an interesting take on that.
- Pep Talk: Inspiring Quotes for Writers by Sue Williams via @GrubWriters Because we all need a little extra motivation sometimes. 🙂
Finally, a quote for the week:
And that’s all for this week.
Thanks again, truly, for being here. Always so nice to share part of my writing journey (and my weekend!) with you. Happy reading & writing. Go create something! 🙂
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.