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: Do you ever wonder about the magic of perfect timing? Yesterday, I was making my early morning rounds to turn off the night lights and collect the kitties for their breakfast time. The kitten was curled up next to the window and when I leaned down to scratch her behind the ear, a movement outside caught my eye. It was the vapor rising up from the chimney of the house next door – a perfectly ordinary and unremarkable sight except at that particular moment.
The sun was rising behind the house, and its rays illuminated the vapor with a bright, warm light that was held all the golden and rose tones of a Maxfield Parrish painting. It looked as though the sparkle and brilliance was emanating from the vapor itself, streaming up the chimney and out into the frigid air where it hung for only a moment before dissolving against the hard, pale blue of the winter sky. I stood for a moment, transfixed by the play of color and the simple perfection of the image.
A minute later, I moved on, returning to my morning routine. I went into the room next door to brush my teeth, and when I looked back outside – hoping to catch another glimpse of the glow and shine – the vapor seemed to have disappeared. The light had moved on to other objects and reduced the chimney and its emissions to their usual, mundane state.
it was a small thing to see that beautiful sight for just a moment, but I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I’m glad that some magic in the Universe placed me in that exact spot at that exact moment and made me lift my eyes. Sometimes it is the smallest details that make the biggest impression, and as writers we have the chance to capture those moments and maybe share them with others, spreading the magic around.
What I’m Writing:
As I said in Friday’s post in my story of going pro, I make my living doing brand development and copywriting for my marketing clients. This week, I have been inundated with work and new projects that are just about to break free, so I haven’t had any time to practice my fiction writing. My writing time has been spent crafting narratives and capturing ideas that will help define and grow my clients’ businesses. Though I don’t like to complain about having work (quite the contrary, I am always so grateful), I do expect to be extraordinarily busy for the next six to eight weeks. My bank account is happy to see me so gainfully employed, but my inner creative is feeling a bit disappointed that she won’t have much time to play.
It’s all good, though. I know that in this business there will be fallow periods during which I can take some time to explore my creative projects and stretch my artistic muscles, and there will be nose-to-the-grindstone times when I will need to stay focused and burn the midnight oil. It’s all part of the joy of being self-employed as a writer.
What I’m Reading:
I am reading another Moomintroll book. I had so much fun with Moominland Midwinter (affiliate link), that I picked up the first book in the Moomintroll series, Comet in Moominland (affiliate link). With a heavy workload bearing down on me, I find special comfort in these small stories that are at once simple and profound.
I have never been one to shy away from reading children’s books as an adult. In fact, I think some of the wisest and best-written books have been written for children. Many of my favorite books are the ones I read in my childhood, the ones that have withstood the tests of time and repeated readings. These books seem to have grown with me, always ready to offer some new insight or perspective that was undiscovered at the last reading. They are like old friends who reveal themselves to me bit by bit as I learn to listen more closely and read between the lines.
I am also having some fun with a great, little prompt book called The Amazing Story Generator: Creates Thousands of Writing Prompts (affiliate link).
This “mix-and-match” book is spiral bound with three sections of “mini pages” stacked vertically along its spine. You can flip each of the three “decks” of pages to create innumerable combinations of situations, characters, and conflicts. Here are just a few examples:
- After winning a bet, a child genius challenges a rival to a duel.
- The night before the wedding, a talking dog leads the charge against a zombie army.
- Vowing not to bathe for an entire year, an ugly duchess finds a 17th century treasure map.
- Ignoring the advice of friends, a gossip columnist thwarts an assassination attempt.
How can you fail to be inspired by these prompts? I love the irreverent approach and the wild and wacky combinations the book generates. This is definitely a good tool to have in your back pocket in case you get stuck for an idea.
Finally, I found a few moments to return to the wonderful online magazine, Full Grown People. I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to sit and enjoy these wonderful essays, but I’m finally (slowly) catching up on all the great reading they have to offer. My favorite this week is a beautiful essay by Rebecca S. Werner (@treetoriver) called Into the Woods. Werner tells what is, on the surface, a simple story of accompanying her father to sit vigil while her mom is in surgery; but there are so many layers of thought and self-discovery wrapped into and around this brief experience. Werner manages to not only gracefully pull back the curtain on the inner workings of her mind and heart, but to weave in a conversation about the importance of fairytales and the effect these magical stories have on our lives. A wonderful piece. So glad to have finally had a moment to read it.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- 6 tips from top bloggers for writing a great About Page by @JadeCraven – This is something I see many writers struggle with, and I was tickled that Jade included a link to my post, How to Write an About Page – 5 Steps to Get It Right.
- Writing Advice From My Dream Brain by @chuckwendig – Always a wild ride!
- A Parent’s Guide to Writer’s Workshop for Kids by @ImaginationSoup – I love this idea!
- Why We Procrastinate via @NautilusMag – Not only was this article fascinating, but I’m thrilled to have discovered this fabulous, online science magazine that is absolutely rife with potential story sparks.
- Your Audience Is Unorganized by @DanBlank via @WriterUnboxed – More wisdom from Mr. Blank. Love this guy’s sense of book marketing sanity.
- Images & pictures & portraits spoke to him in his native language: one/beauty. One/soul. One/purpose. via @erinloechner (with a hat tip to @HennekeD) – This was just a beautiful way of looking at the value of art.
- Going into darkness is not a reasonable response to joy. by @TanyaGeisler – A little something to help if you suffer from the Imposter Complex. (Hat tip to my friend @AbbyKerr)
- Ten Rookie Writer Mistakes by @JoanneChocolat – Loved this post by best-selling author Joanne Harris. Sage (and witty) advice.
Finally, a quote for the week:
And that’s all for this week.
I hope you have many special moments that come to you via the magic of perfect timing. Keep your eyes and your mind open. You never know what you might see.
Happy writing & happy reading! 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.