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!
To Everything There is a Season … Even Writing
Winter is hanging on like a fierce beast facing its final extinction. New Englanders though we may be, our patience is being tried. There are only so many times you can wake up to single-digit (or below zero) temps and maintain your sense of humor. My favorite tweet of the week came from my friend and fellow writer, Tracy Mayor:
Yep … this is what it’s come to around here.
What makes the situation particularly frustrating is that there isn’t a thing you can do to change it. Weather is weather and winter is winter and you just have to deal with it. You can’t force winter to end. You can’t bribe spring to arrive early. You simply have to live through the season and make the best of it.
Writing is like that.
In my life, I have experienced many seasons of writing – sometimes I experience multiple writing seasons in a single day. There are seasons of planting ideas and seasons of harvesting them. There are seasons of cultivation and nurturing and seasons of surrendering to the quiet reflection of fallow fields. The wise writer works with the seasons, not against them.
Though the demands of my projects don’t always allow for the luxury of crafting my days around the seasonal shifts of my inner writing world, I always try to remain observant of the changes so that – when possible – I can align my writing tasks with the natural flow, whatever that may be at the moment. There are few things more painful than having to force the words when you should instead be letting ideas percolate. And vice versa.
Just like the seasons in the real world, the writer’s seasons are best appreciated when they are accepted for their own charms. This isn’t always easy, but it is always the best course of action. It’s never a good idea to argue with Mother Nature.
What I’m Writing:
I recently missed a few days (ok, maybe weeks) of doing my morning pages. Though I survived, I had a persistent feeling of having forgotten to do something – like when you pull out of the drive and wonder if you left the stove on or forgot to lock the door. Missing my morning pages didn’t keep me from functioning like a (mostly) normal person. It did, however, mean that I entered my day with a head full of distracting whispers and mumbles. Taking twenty minutes in the morning to capture and release my random thoughts clears my head. It lets me shake off the inessential so that I can focus on what’s important. Without this sunrise purge, I felt slightly muddled and weighted down by unseen worries.
Happily, I’m back on track with my morning pages.
What I’m Reading:
While I continue to nibble away at some longer novels, I had very little time for pleasure reading this week.
To keep from feeling completely deprived, I picked up a book of poetry.
I am a poetry idiot. If you asked me to name my favorite poets I’d say Robert Frost and Shel Silverstein (mostly because they are the only two poets I can name on cue). Clearly, I am not a connoisseur. After the requisite encounters during my high school lit classes, I rediscovered poetry when I was a new mom with an infant who hardly ever slept. I had little to no chance of finding time to read an actual novel. Even if I had somehow conjured the time, I doubt my sleep deprived brain could have comprehended something as involved as a novel.
Instead, I picked up an old poetry anthology that was sitting on my shelf. Poetry turned out to be the perfect balm for my reading ache. The pieces were short enough that I could sneak them in at odd moments, and the dreamlike imagery and was perfect for my state of mind.
This week, I came across a title called God Got a Dog (affliate link) – a slim volume of poems written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Marla Frazee. I am a big fan of Rylant’s work and have often found comfort in her various children’s books. This book is no exception, offering up a quirky series of poetic portraits that show God doing his (or her) thing in various everyday situations. If you need a little something to make you feel better about the world in general, this book might be just the thing.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- How To Write Well: 10 Essential Self-Editing Tips by @LiveWriteThrive via @WritetoDone – Some very practical tips on how to improve your writing with some specific editing exercises.
- Don’t let yourself talk yourself out of it by @justinemusk – A bit of inspiration to keep you from letting that great idea slip away.
- 20 essential online tools for writers by @KatelynPiontek via @mstibbe – A good list of resources and apps that might come in handy.
- Serial Fiction: How It’s Changing Publishing by @JaneFriedman – SO many interesting things happening in publishing today. I’m particularly intrigued by the serial trend.
- Examples of Irony – This word is so often misused (I’m guilty, too) and these examples helped me get it straight.
- 12 Things They Don’t Teach You In School About Being A Designer by @Jeff_Archibald via @FastCoDesign – This was written with designers in mind, but it very relevant to writers as well.
- Measures of Success by @BarbaraOneal via @WriterUnboxed – Just how do you define writing success?
- 10 Apps to Help You Stay Focused on Your Writing by @CaballoFrances via @JaneFriedman – Need a little help in the productivity department? This might help you out.
- Writing Reality Check by @ZettaB via @shewritesdotcom – Interesting behind-the-scenes look at the working lives of famous authors.
- An Open Letter to JK Rowling: Please Don’t Stop Writing by Mark Pryor – A thoughtful rebuttal to another open letter that’s been making the rounds this week, begging Rowling to stop writing.
- You Could Soon Read An Entire Harry Potter Book In Under 90 Minutes With This App by Alexis Kleinman – I’m not saying you’d want to read a whole Harry Potter book in 90 minutes, BUT for certain types of reading this training might come in really handy. (There’s a training module right in the post!)
- Are you letting the numbers deflate you? by @sarahkpeck – If you’re struggling to build an audience, you know how frustrated it can feel to see other writers racking up the big numbers of followers and fans. This post will help you gain some perspective and appreciate the numbers you do have.
- What It Takes: Boiling Frogs by Shawn Coyne via @SPressfield – Excellent piece (with examples) on what separates a great story from a not-so-great one.
Finally, a quote for the week:
Or, rather, an image. I thought this was a perfect picture to help us appreciate the last few days of winter while casting a hopeful eye towards the coming season of spring.
Thanks, as always, for sharing part of your weekend with me. Here’s to writing in any season and always enjoying the journey – in sun, wind, rain, or snow.
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.
Image from my Pinterest board, but originally sourced here from sarolta ban.