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!
The Power of Happy
I just spent my morning dancing around to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Hey! Want to join me?
Wasn’t that fun?
I swear, even the animals in my house seem to dig a little early morning dance jam. The cats come running from wherever they are in the house and little Benny swims out from his hiding place in the aquatic weeds to swish his tail.
At the beginning of the year, instead of a typical resolution like finishing my novel or getting a story published or losing twenty pounds, I decided to stick with something simple: Figure Out What Makes Me Happy. Do More of That. Truth be told, this isn’t always as easy as it seems, but I’m making progress. The hardest part is usually the figuring out part. We get so wrapped up in the shoulds of life that we forget about the bits that make us come alive. We lose track of why we’re here in the first place.
I recently downloaded a cool little app called Happier. The site bills the app as a “fun, social gratitude journal.” Basically, it’s a tool to capture the things that make you happy. I’ve only been playing with it for a week or so, but the simple act of recording what makes me happy definitely seems to make me … um … happier. The app helps you get into the habit of noticing your own happiness, and before you know it you’re noticing a whole lot more happiness than you might have expected.
The best part is that happiness makes you more creative and more productive. It’s true. If you do a few quick Google searches, you’ll find dozens of articles that talk about the correlation between having a smile on your face and being able to work harder and more creatively. This one from Forbes on how happiness boosts worker performance, for instance, or this one from FastCompany about how one agency is using happiness to increase creativity. Pretty cool stuff.
What I’m Writing:
All this happy talk reminded me of an itty-bitty blog that I wrote back in (gasp!) 2009. (Was it really that long ago?!?) My Good Mood Gig Campaign blog was part of a 30-day competition for a writing gig with a vitamin company. I didn’t get the gig, but I had a lot of fun creating and running my very first blog.
I look back at these posts and wince a bit. I was, after all, only two years into my blogging journey. I was more or less fumbling along in the dark. Still, the assignment was an inherently fun one and – if nothing else – I was able to create a mini archive of happy stories including links to great music, videos, and other content.
And – hey! – even though I’m slightly embarrassed by the writing, it makes me HAPPY to realize that I’ve been making progress since then and continue to learn my craft and improve my writing with each and every blog post and column, article and essay. That’s enough to make me smile.
What I’m Reading:
Last week, I shared a great novel called Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore. This week, I read Robin Sloan’s follow-up Kindle Single, Ajax Penumbra 1969 (affiliate link). You know that feeling you get when you finish a book and really love it and don’t want to leave the world the author has created? I was definitely feeling that after turning the last page of 24-Hour Bookstore, so this 60-page story was the perfect “just-a-little-more” fix.
I also loved having an excuse to use my usually neglected Kindle. It’s a first generation model that typically sits forlornly on my bedside table. I use it mostly to download and read book excerpts in order to decide if it’s worth requesting the “real” book from my local library. It was fun to actually read a full-length piece on the Kindle. Even if it was only a “single.”
The Kindle Single is really quite an ingenious product. Not quite a book, but weightier than an essay, the Kindle Single is often a perfect length read … especially when you’re really busy and making time to read anything more involved is just impossible. Animalish (Kindle Single) (affiliate link) by Susan Orlean is another Kindle Single that I own and have read more than once.
Maybe I have accidentally discovered a use for my Kindle beyond reading excerpts. Perhaps my Kindle is meant for collecting fabulous essays, short stories, and novellas – capturing them in digital format so they take up oodles of space on my shelves. Besides, it’s just fun to get that quick and instant gratification – click, and – whoosh! – there the piece is. And at $1.99 – $2.99 a hit, it costs less than a chai latte. Hmmm … I may be onto something here.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- 23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing by @joebunting via @write_practice
- It’s Not Always Fun by @SPressfield
- Being a freak and making art by @dmscott
- Why You Really Need To Step Away From Work by @seandsouza
- ARCHETYPES: Empowering Source-Driven Characters and Plots by Robert Jones via @storyfix
- John Updike on Writing and Death via @brainpicker
- Can You Call Yourself a “Writer” if You’re Not Currently Writing? by @aliventures
- Resistance is not us by @SPressfield
- Advice that every young writer needs to hear… by @chrisrobley
- 17 Problems Only Book Lovers Will Understand
- 17 Joys Only Book Lovers Will Understand by @InkSlinger9
Finally, a quote for the week:
I just love this piece. It’s likely a meme adaptation, but the character is the creation of the fabulous Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half. Her art and stories seem simplistic, but she has a wonderful way (as both a writer and an artist) of seeing right to the heart of a thing. Pretty amazing, actually.
So, that’s it for me (for now). Happy writing & happy reading & happy SPRING! 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.