Weekend Edition – A Place to Write plus Writing Tips and Good Reads

Welcome to the Weekend Edition. Grab a cuppa and settle in for a meander. Glad to have you here.

fairytale cottageA Place to Write:

We’re moving in a couple of weeks. I have spent the last year trying to find a house to buy (an “adventure” partially chronicled in a piece by fellow L2W-W2L blogger Lee, How to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market), but – alas! – we were unable to find a suitable home. Part of me is disappointed. Part of me feels like I dodged a bullet.

I will be keeping a close eye on the market, but I’ve begun to question whether or not I want to buy a house. Though my nester’s heart loves the idea of having a little corner of the world to call my own, the physical and financial responsibility of home ownership is enormous. Life is short and we have limited resources. Am I sure I want to invest so much of my time, money, and attention in the procurement and upkeep of a physical space?

As a writer, my priority is to be able to write. But, what does that mean? It isn’t so much about having a room of my own as it is about having a different kind of space. Owning my home is less important than owning my time. To own my time, I need to create space in my life. I need to have the freedom to spend my minutes and hours and days doing the thing I love. While owning a home is a lovely ideal, it comes with a price. Am I willing to trade not only my existing financial assets, but also my future time assets in exchange for being able to say, “This is mine?” As my dad likes to say, “You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want.”

Or, would I be happier if I created a life that left more room for the creative work I love? Would I be more fulfilled if I had a wealth of time to spend as I pleased instead of having to sell all my hours for dollars in order to ensure the security of four walls and a roof?

Though I’m not ready to make the leap, living in a tiny house is a fantasy I share with fellow L2W-W2L blogger, Wendy. I read stories about people, like Tammy Strobel (aka “@RowdyKittens“) who are changing the way we think about the American Dream. They are passing on the white picket fence and instead choosing freedom. Imagine if your monthly expenses were half what they are now, or a third, or a tenth. How would you spend all your reclaimed time?

For now, my daughter and I are very fortunate to have found a beautiful little apartment on the second and third floors of a darling house overlooking the river. It’s not ours and it’s not grand, but I have a feeling it will be the perfect place for us at this particular moment. And – who knows? – maybe one of these days I’ll be telling you about our tiny house. You never know …

What I’m Writing:

I am dying to share some of my latest columns with you, but I’m sticking to my guns and will no longer post my essays on my business blog. I clearly had a bit of an identity crisis there for a minute. Mixing my marketing blog posts with my lyrical writing was confusing even to me. In case you missed it, last week I shared a great post by Ann Handley on a related topic, How Do You Balance Your Personal and Professional Social Media Presence? This is a conundrum I’m still sorting out. It will likely involve the launch of another site/blog in the not-too-distant future. If it does, it’ll be the first time I’ve made my creative writing a central focus instead of a sideshow to my marketing writing. Yikes!

art is messy

Art is messy.

I’m happy to report that my use of the  Way of Life app is helping me to be more consistent about my fiction writing practice. Though I’ve only been able to carve out a few minutes here and a few minutes there, those are a few minutes more than I was spending before the app. Works for me! Even better, I’ve found that even though I may spend only a few minutes actually writing, the practice is helping me keep my creative juices flowing “in the background,” so to speak. It feels good.

Affiliate Link

What I’m Reading:

I read another Kindle Single this week. I think I may be developing a minor addiction these bite-sized reads. This week’s selection was another piece by Robin Sloan, Annabel Scheme (affiliate link). After reading Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra stories, the story of Annabel Scheme was quite a switch, but I enjoyed the SciFi/ghost story romp through a world not unlike our own where a massively powerful search engine called Grail has all but taken over the world … except for the demons, they seem to do what they like.

I really enjoyed the way Sloan combined these futuristic concepts with the traditional private eye/gumshoe genre. It took what could have been standard fare and gave it a quirky flavor that was really fun.

On the other side of the literary continuum, I’m also reading Susan Orlean’s latest creative nonfiction novel, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (affiliate link). I acquired my copy back in (hangs head in shame) October 2012 when I saw her speak up in Portsmouth, NH. I wrote about the event in my post, Susan Orlean on Curiosity and Courage. I can’t believe it’s taken me all this time to pick it up and start reading it!

This is my current “dining” book – the book I keep handy so that I can read a bit while I have my morning toast or lunchtime sandwich. I’ve also been known to pick it up while I’m cooking (never a good idea since cooking isn’t my strong suit to begin with).

Anyway – lots more of this one to enjoy, but I’m really liking it so far. Orlean is a wonderful storyteller and this story is one that can’t help but fascinate.


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

SPECIAL NOTICE: There’s been a nasty virus wending its way around the web. There are MANY passwords you should be updating – Facebook, Google. Instagram, etc. Please check out The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now via @mashable for details.

Finally, a quote for the week:

home books

Wishing you that feeling of home no matter where you are. Have a wonderful weekend! 
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.

27 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – A Place to Write plus Writing Tips and Good Reads

  1. I’m with you and your minimalist tendencies. Our next move, which won’t happen for at least 3+ years-till our youngest graduates from H.S., will be to a place that is less expensive, less upkeep, and less taxes, and less cleanup. Which all means, a smaller place. More writing. More freedom.

    • Exactly, Michele! 🙂
      My daughter is only ten, so we have a ways to go, but I’m already thinking about how I can streamline things to create more space in my life for the things that are most important to me. Here’s to minimalism and downsizing!

  2. The fantasy of the tiny cottage with a large garden hidden down some little road has utterly captured my imagination and my desire. I currently am living the “American Dream” in a large home with too many bathrooms to clean and too large a mortgage. Can not wait for kids to go off to college so we can down size to something a bit more writerly.

    • You’re right, Sara, that this downsized dream has a certain writerly flavor to it. As writers, we live as much in our heads as in the world (if not more so). It only makes sense that we would need less space and fewer possessions. 🙂

  3. I like the separation of your marketing and your creativity… yes, entwine, but not to strangle… wouldn’t it be lovey to rent a lovely little cottage? great space, not responsible for upkeep, feels like a home, can have the white picket fence… very inspiring, too…

    • Thanks, I’m definitely leaning towards a separation. It seems much more sensible. “Entwining” is a lovely word. 🙂

      I have a soft spot for cottages. My favorite ones manage to combine charm with a rustic utility that seems to sweep all the complications of life away. Something to look for. 🙂

  4. I love your quote of the week! And as always, your blog readings are gems.
    I hear you on the house issue. We were former condo owners who were stuck in housing bubble years ago. We have been in a “house” for almost 4 years. A lot of perks and I’m glad we are here, but yes, there is a never ending list of things to do. One thing our house has allowed me to do is start gardening a few years ago. It has been very rewarding (although at times can be time consuming) and therapeutic and an opportunity for me to think about writing/ideas while weeding, mulching, pruning, watering,harvesting. Plus I feel like another trade off is my children have become more interested in gardening and food, which is important to us. I try to make sure we have an overall balance. If we have spent the past few weeks “stuck” doing home related things, we try to take a break and do what we want, especially if the weather is nice.
    But it sounds like you have found something that works for you at the moment and that is what is important. A year from now, you might find yourself in a different place with different needs.
    I am currently working on a Fairy Tale project that I hope to submit by the end of the month.
    For my reading, I just finished reading Anna Karenina and had lunch to discuss it with my book reading partner. We are so relieved to be done and are looking forward to moving on to a shorter book with less POV hopping. Have a great weekend!

  5. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and process! Home is absolutely where the books are : ) If and when you do buy a home…just remember to find one were you own it and it doesn’t own you. I have lived in very tiny spaces off and on through out my life. The key is multi-functional furniture and rooms! I have lived and traveled in Europe often and they do small very well. Having a view of green spaces is a plus or at least a little balcony with pots. During a life course change I moved to London with two suitcases to live for a year. I lived in a one room bed/sit with a shared bathroom. The first time I went to the cinema there was this Nike advert that said “Life’s a trip, travel light!” The perfect message for me at that time and place : )

  6. Hi there,

    I know I haven’t been here for awhile so here I am. Following on what you blogged about, since I am 12 years old, I only have my room to write in. I don’t have a special area or anything but I always wish I did. Maybe one day I will…But for now I am grateful for what I have. It’s better to have this house and my awesome room than nothing.

    This week, I have been writing a lot of poems as in school I have learning about poems but also since it’s NaPoWriMo a.k.a. National Poem Writing Month. I have also been making a list of writing pieces I want to get done this year. As a kid, I have a lot of free time. Many people judge me when I say I want to be a writer but I never doubt myself. I love writing and that will be one of my future aspirations/careers.

    I am reading a book called Switched at Birthdays. It’s pretty good as it is about two girls who switch bodies on their birthday and have to experience what it’s like to be somebody else and in the end realize they are really grateful for what they have. Since I told you that I read Harriet the Spy, I am reading the sequel called,”The Long Secret.” It’s really good and I am only halfway through.

    Until next week, Happy Early Easter. May this Spring bless you with happiness and creativity.


  7. I am also dreaming of living in a tiny house right in the middle of nowhere or silence and nature! Someday I will! 🙂 But for now I enjoy living in a nice apartement in the middle of a big city where coffee shops, restaurants, parks and theatres are right around the corner. It’s so inspiring! So all the best for you in your new apartement! 🙂

  8. Jamie, mixing lyrical writing with business may reveal a perk. I once wrote a business exercise in the form of a story, only releasing a portion at a time. Two weeks into it, a half dozen participants approached me as a group. They tried to get the entire writeup from me. They had been reading the excerpts to their friends, who wanted to know what will happen next!

  9. Jamie, You wrote another wonderful column. But…I still want a little home I can call my own, my anchor, my safe place to go from.

    The links were wonderful. I’m happy someone called out Grammar Girl, because I use her all the time, and I learn new stuff – I can’t believe I forgot what Past and Past Perfect were; duh. I also liked the writing tip; I use a 31 minute timer, and it works for me.

    A long time ago, I think you mentioned an App that I could use to edit my songs. I had it on my other computer, but it died, and I lost the app. I wonder if you remember what that was?

    Thank you,


  10. I, too, am obsessed with tiny houses! I have mentioned them before in my blog (linked a video here http://theselfstyledlife.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/the-details-downsizing-prioritizing-and-living-with-less/)
    along with questions on the “American dream” (or at least the current interpretation of it) and how it puts the focus on stuff — the bigger the better! Lots of important questions to explore!

    We live in a city, Toronto, where the average home sale price last month was something like $1.2 million in our area. We will not be buying a house here anytime soon. For now, we are happily tucked into our rental house, which, while an absurdly expensive rental by some standards, is practically a bargain here.

    But I also feel that nesting desire so strongly. I have faith it will happen one day, in some form. Perhaps we’ll always rent our primary home in the city, and instead build a tiny house on a plot of land in the country that will be for weekends and writing retreats. There are many different ways to go about it 🙂

    Thanks, as always, for a lovely weekend read!

  11. Hi Jamie,
    Hang in there, and stick to your guns about choosing the home that suits you. My husband and I succumbed to family pressure to buy a house (‘You have a child, therefore, you must own a house’). We bought a house, which we loved, but it was hard work, sucked up all our time and money, and it wasn’t the life we had imagined for ourselves. The life we imagined was somewhat different, and after only two years in the house we decided to follow our dream, which was to live on a yacht! You can imagine how crazy our families thought we were then. We sold the house, sold the car, sold pretty much every piece of unnecessary tat that we’d been dragging around with us for years. We bought a 36-foot, 35-year old boat. We radically changed the way we live and work. We home educate our two daughters (a second one came along in the middle of all this upheaval!). We’ve lived on the boat for six months in both 2012 and 2013, renting a small cheap house in winter, and right now we’re in the process of moving on board permanently, and plan to sail from the UK to the Mediterranean in about six weeks time. We couldn’t be happier. The boat, Carina of Devon, is our home. In that tiny space I find room to write, the girls find room to learn and play, and my husband finds room to bake great bread (among the thousands of other things we do in our home). Life is good. We stuck to our guns. We followed our dream.
    The less clutter in our lives, the more time we have for each other, and the more time we have to pursue the things that matter to us. When it comes to your home, size really doesn’t matter.
    Love reading your L2W-W2L posts.

  12. Pingback: Weekend Edition – The Writer’s Home Office plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write - Write to Live

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