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!
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:
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:
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.
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:
- How to consistently come up with great post ideas for your blog by @veggie_mama via @problogger – Some great sources for ideas when you get stumped for blog fodder.
- 15 Places to Find Stock Images for Blog Posts and Websites via @FreelanceWJ – Sometimes it takes me longer to find the right image for a blog post than it does to write the post. These are some great resources for finding that “just right” picture to accompany your words.
- Think Local: It’s Not Just for Food by @andillit via @JaneFriedman – Great advice on how to make the most of local book marketing and selling opportunities.
- The Ugly Truth About Writer’s Block (And It’s Cure) by @thecreativepenn – Joanna Penn explains why sometimes the block has nothing to do with writing.
- 5 Voice Tools That Will Help You Write Better — Without a Keyboard by @writewithwarnie via @thewritelife – Curious about writing via dictation or other verbal methods? This post has some great tools to try.
- How to Start a Web Magazine in Nine Steps by @jniesslein at WriterHouse Blog – This behind-the-scenes look at how Jennifer Niesslein launched my favorite online fiction magazine, Full Grown People, makes me love that site even more.
- 6 Stunning Visuals That Will Make Your Content Memorable, Sharable, and Beautiful by @pamelaiwilson via @jonmorrow – As writers, we sometimes forget the power of a good visual. This post includes a variety of smart ways to bring your work to life with images.
- The Magic of Snow (and Emerging Stories) by @SPressfield – A wonderful essay at how Ezra Jack Keats‘ beloved book, The Snowy Day, came into being.
Finally, a quote for the week:
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.