Weekend Edition – Writing is Not for Sissies Plus Good Reads and Writing Advice

Welcome to this Saturday Edition in which I share a little 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 a little on my version of the writing life (but not so much as to be indecent).

I hope you enjoy this little diversion and encourage you to share your own thoughts, posts, and picks in the comments. I LOVE hearing from you and seeing the world from your perspective.

Happy writing! Happy reading! 

Jamie

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slow motionWorking with words is not for sissies.

As I continue to recuperate from my unfortunate encounter with this year’s flu virus, my muse has been gently reminding me that although writing may not be as physically grueling as manual labor, it can be just as exhausting. At first I was disappointed (and even a little embarrassed) that I wasn’t able to be more productive during my convalescence. I had assumed I’d be able to prop myself up with my laptop and just zip right along as usual – cranking out blog posts, case studies, and branding frameworks.

My downed immune system had other ideas.

Turns out that it’s not just my body that’s temporarily moving more slowly, my brain has also downshifted. Things that would normally take me an hour, take two. Ideas that usually come with, if not ease, at least a certain modicum of grace now have to be winched out of my addled brain.

Slowing down is hard.

But, like any working writer, I just keep plodding ahead – one word after another and then lots (and lots) of editing. It’s what we do. The thing is, even when I am feeling crappy, I still want to write. When most normal people would just want to curl into a couch coma and sleep, I’m itching for my journal or even (yes, I’m that crazy) a few minutes hacking away at a client deliverable. Even when it’s extra hard because my head is all foggy, I still want to play with ideas and words. I still want to create.

Maybe this makes me slightly insane, but I hope I never experience a day without the urge to write. I hope that on my death bed, I’m still reaching for pen and paper so I can scribble just a few more words.

What I’m Writing:

winter book

Reading the Winter Away

In addition to my client projects, I republished another of my columns on my blog. Reading the Winter Away was one of those pieces that came together quickly after many false starts.

Though I only publish these columns every other week, I always seem to be writing them at the last minute. This can be dangerous if I haven’t quite settled on a topic and don’t know exactly how to get started. Before finally getting this essay down, I started two other (completely different) pieces that I eventually abandoned because my thoughts just weren’t coming together. (This was, I’m sure, a lingering side effect of flu brain.)

What wound up helping was just sitting quietly for a few minutes and letting my brain ramble along a completely random path. I stopped trying so hard to find the “right” topic, and instead just let the topic come to me. When it did arrive, it was so simple that the writing was easier than I’d expected. Sometimes, we just have to make our brains shut the hell up so we can hear what our hearts have to say.

What I’m Reading:

Affiliate Link

Affiliate Link



So, fellow Live to Write-Write to Live blogger, Wendy, now has me hooked on the graphic stories of Nick Bantock. After reading her review of his new creativity book, The Trickster’s Hat, I was intrigued enough to start exploring his other books. Bantock’s best known creation is the Griffin and Sabine double trilogy in which a mystical story is told through a series of letters that are beautifully rendered in Bantock’s unique collage-style artwork.

This week I read the first two books in the series: Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence (affiliate link) and Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds (affiliate link). I have the rest of the series on reserve at my local library and am hoping they arrive soon so I can continue the saga.

Though the letter-format has its drawbacks, it’s an interesting way to share a story. I miss the immersive nature of reading a true narrative – the sense of place and atmosphere – but Bantock’s beautiful art helps to fill that void by creating a visual universe for his correspondence.

elizabeth taylor

(Image from Wikipedia)

On a serendipitously coincidental note, I also listened to a wonderful short story called “The Letter Writers” by British author Elizabeth Taylor. The audio production of this short story was featured on The New Yorker’s fiction podcast and is narrated by Paul Theroux. Taylor is, apparently, an oft underrated writer whose domestic stories about everyday life lack the flash and verve of much of today’s popular literature. “The Letter Writers,” however, seems to touch on some very contemporary themes as it unfolds around the initial meeting of a man and woman who have been corresponding by post for ten years. I loved hearing the story read aloud and also enjoyed the follow-up conversation between Theroux and the podcast editor and host, Deborah Treisman. If you have forty-five minutes to spare (perhaps while making dinner or folding the laundry), I highly recommend the story.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin 1st 8 pgs

Here’s wishing you a week of  story exploration, story creation, and story appreciation. May your days be filled with productive scribblings and your nights with the luxury of  free time and good books (or, vice versa if you’re a night owl). All the best until next week! 🙂 

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.

“Slow Motion” Photo Credit: bubbo.etsy.com via Compfight cc

33 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Writing is Not for Sissies Plus Good Reads and Writing Advice

  1. Thanks for this post, I’ve been suffering with a hip that needs replacing and I truly understand how physical pain can be a real hindrance on creativity. Hopefully I will be getting my hip replacement soon. There is no doubt that putting heartfelt words on paper and the edit and re edit of material can be very exhausting and being physically down during the process can be wear a body down quick…..Thanks again. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Sorry to hear about your hip. My mom had a replacement surgery a few years back and I know that until that procedure is done the pain can be excruciating and constant. I hope things go well so that you can regain your full concentration and focus … not to mention creativity.

  2. The need to write and create is always here, isn’t it? I’ve had a busy and great week with family visiting, but got sick somewhere in the way, and even then I still wanted to continue working on my blog posts and other projects (guest lecture and fiddling with my book chapter titles) when tucked in bed. At least, I managed to sneak in some writing this week, and could even start the blog series I wanted to, about a short selection of romantic movies.

    On the reading front, I had only read four pages of the Star Wars book I picked last Saturday, so when the family brought me another one I had been waiting for like crazy (first novel focused on Princess Leia!) I went for the “new” one and am already halfway through. Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells might just be one of my favorite Star Wars novels ever.

    Thank you for the great links of interest! Have a good weekend!

    • Ooh! We are so fickle with our books sometimes, aren’t we? I know only too well the allure of a new book that causes me to abandon (albeit only temporarily) whatever other books I’m reading at the time. It’s kind of a delicious feeling. So glad you found something you’re enjoying so much! 🙂

  3. Hi Jamie; Grand Father makes special medicine when he has the flu or a cold: one part honey, one part lemon juice, one part hot water, one part sipping whiskey. I asked him if it cures his cold. He said, “No. But I don’t care anymore.”

    I’m not sure I would be able to write after one of those, though.

    Thanks, Silent

    • Ahhh, yes. The hot toddy. I haven’t made one yet and don’t feel poorly enough to warrant one now, but I have had them in the past and can swear to their efficacy. I’m a whisky drinker by habit, so I am quite at home with that particular remedy, AND able to write (for at least a bit) after dosing myself. 😉
      TKS for the advice, though. Glad I’m not the only one who swears by such “homeopathic” cures!

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  5. In my experience, though being down with the flu/cold/whatever has its toll on my writing, it helps me think of new perspectives or write about topics I don’t normally discuss. So I think of it as an avenue for change!

    • Said like a true writer. 😉 Every experience – good, bad, or middlin’ – becomes fodder for the writer’s craft, does it not?
      The column I wrote for this week’s paper turned out to be about the flu, but with a bit of a twist. I look forward to sharing it here in a couple weeks’ time.

  6. I got hit with the flu recently, too. My whole family got it! So not only did I need to take care of myself, but my husband and kids, too. I’m right in the middle of writing a story and went from producing 30k words one week to 5k the next. I crashed! It’s tough to focus when you’re ill. I hope you feel better!

    • So true, so true. Mom always bears the brunt of any household illness. So sorry the flu swept through your family that way. I hope everyone is feeling better and appreciates your care.
      And – hey! – if you still managed to write 5000 words while you were down and out (and playing Florence Nightingale), color me super impressed! Nicely done, mama.
      🙂

  7. Well thanks for the inspiring words and helpful links! I’m new to WordPress and blogging; your post was the first thing that popped up in my Reader this morning and its exactly what I needed! I’m a high school teacher who wrote some one act plays in New York years ago and I wrote freelance articles on the arts in my hometown newspaper before it went kaput. I easily fall into the trap of feeling like I don’t have enough time to read, let alone write anything of substance, but I’m going to commit to not worrying about the substance or topic but focus on finding the words for what my heart has to say. Currently I’m on a classics reading kick; about to finish The Enchanted April and looking forward to reading Middlemarch for the first time.

    • You’re so welcome. Glad to have you here & loved hearing your story.
      Sorry to hear about your hometown paper. That slow demise seems to be the fate of far too many local papers these days. It’s a sad end to a noble endeavor.

      Here’s to finding words for what your heart has to say. That sounds like a most sensible place to start. 🙂

      TKS for coming by!

      PS – I haven’t read The Enchanted April, but I LOVE the movie of the same name. Must watch that again soon. It’s right up there with one of my all-time favorite movies, “Shirley Valentine.”

  8. Thanks for the great links to hopefully helpful blogs! Being new I never know of where I’m turning my attention is worth it! Also love the DFW quote, very germane. I happen to be reading ‘Infinite Jest’ its both made me want to write more often and just scrap everything because its nowhere near his level.

    • You’re so welcome. I hope you find the blogs I’ve linked to as helpful as I think they are.
      I haven’t yet read any DFW, but he’s on my list. I know what you mean about being both inspired and despairing. I’ve been reading a book by one of my favorite, classic authors, and all I keep saying is, “Damn, this guy can WRITE” and wondering if I’ll ever be able to craft even a single sentence that can measure up in some small way.

      Don’t give up. Choose inspiration over despair.
      😉

  9. Great weekly round-up. Nice to be reminded of the ‘Griffin & Sabine’ books – you’re right, it’s a different reading experience, more like being an outsider stumbling upon someone’s secret correspondence and being invited to read it! And those blog posts you mention are a fab resource too. Thank you!

    • Thanks so much, Jean. That made me laugh and made me feel great.
      My secret: I kiss a lot of frogs, as the saying goes. 😉

      Thanks for being here.

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