Weekend Edition – Story as a port in the storm plus writing tips and good reads

camp readerA good story is a port in any storm.

I missed you all last weekend. Even as I was sealing boxes and hauling load after load of books and clothes and unwieldy furniture up two, long flights of stairs into our new apartment, I was looking forward to being back here today. And, even though I am still surrounded by as yet unpacked boxes, I am happy to be typing this missive from our bright new space. Our home may not be fully put together yet, but I have my laptop, an Internet connection, and my two cats – one on either side of me on the couch. Life is good.

Like any move, ours was not without drama. The low point came in the afternoon of the “Big Move” day when we thought the younger of our two cats had escaped the house and gone missing. After an agonizingly long twenty-minute search in the rain (replete with hand wringing and tears), we found the little rapscallion under the kitchen sink (a hiding spot several of us had checked multiple times).

All’s well that ends well, they say, but it’s hard to maintain peace and calm when you’re right in the thick of things. Throughout the packing and moving, I was very glad to have a good story to distract me from the high stress of my situation. My long To Do list, anxiety, and exhaustion all seemed to melt away as soon as I surrendered to the tonic of the page. Slipping into the story helped me escape, for a moment, from the demands of the Real World. Though part of me chided that I didn’t have time to read, a wiser (and thankfully more persuasive) part of me insisted that taking time to read was exactly what I needed most. She was right.

No matter your worry or woe, a good story will always offer comfort. Never forget to take the time to indulge your inner reader, especially in times of chaos and discord.

What I’m Writing:

old red truckThese past two weeks have provided the perfect opportunity to practice cutting myself some slack. Instead of dishing out a self-destructive guilt trip because I’d come up short on all my writing goals, I gave myself a pass. I was, after all, moving house and home. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you need to let things go or risk losing your sense of sanity. This was definitely one of those times.

A friend of mine shared a great metaphor on this subject. She likened life to a truck that’s packed with all the things we are responsible for, obligated to, and want to do. In my mind’s eye, I pictured an old-fashioned farm truck – candy apple red with broad, sweeping curves and a deep bed that’s bounded on three sides with wooden slats. My friend said that every once in a while you need to look at everything you’re hauling around in your truck and decide what should stay and what should go. You need to consider which things are valuable, which are useful, which are nourishing, and which are just taking up space. Then, when you’ve figured out which things have ceased to serve a purpose, you simply throw ’em off the truck.

I love this idea.

Maybe it’s my recent move combined with the seasonal urge to do a major spring cleaning, but I’m starting to see lots of things that need to be thrown off the truck. This week, I had to toss unrealistic expectations about my writing schedule. Next, I’m thinking about tossing some social media habits that aren’t providing any return on the investment of my time … but that’s a story for another post.

What I’m Reading:

The book that got me through my move week was a little gem by one of my favorite fantasy authors, Jane Yolen. Yolen co-authored Pay the Piper: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fairy Tale (affiliate link) with her son, musician Adam Stemple.

The tale was a fairly simple one, based on the lore of the Pied Piper, but with a contemporary twist. It was a quick read, but one that kept me engaged from start to finish. This was another book that reminded me how much I enjoy reading (and would like to write) urban fantasy for kids and young adults. Though I am less drawn to the high fantasy that I devoured as a child, urban fantasy has become more and more interesting to me . I love the way it blends the mythical and the modern, bringing a little magic into our ordinary world.

If anyone has any suggestions for great urban fantasy, I’d love to hear them.

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 creativity fun

Glad to be back. Happy writing. Happy reading. 🙂 
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.
Camp Reader Photo Credit: Spencer Finnley via Compfight cc
Old Red Truck Photo Credit: aussiegall via Compfight cc

24 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Story as a port in the storm plus writing tips and good reads

  1. Congratulations on your new home, Jamie!! I’ve been meaning to tell you for a while – you wrote about Tiny Houses recently, right? Do you follow Cheri Lucas Rowlands new blog about their adventure in building a Tiny House? I think you’d enjoy it: http://tinyhousetravelers.com/

    Thanks for linking to my podcast post, and kudos to you for giving yourself a pass. Moving is an exhausting enterprise and you deserve a break. Glad you’re back!

    • Thank you, Andrea – for the happy home wishes, the link to Cheri’s blog (I hadn’t read it before), and the welcome back. 🙂

      Really looking forward to checking out the podcasts you featured. I just added them to my Stitcher favorites and will tune in soon!

      Have a great weekend.

  2. Congratulations on the new home! It’s great to see you back! Spring cleaning can do wonders not just to the house but to the mind as well. Great links and quotes as always!

    • I agree wholeheartedly re: spring cleaning being good for the mind and even the soul. More on that soon! 🙂 (Tks for happy home wishes!)

  3. Glad the move went (reasonably) well 🙂 and you found your cat! I know how that story goes. What is it about cats and moving house? Loved your friends wise words, certainly nothing helps us get a better perspective on what’s worth holding onto and what’s not than a major move. Thanks for sharing, glad you’re back online 😀

    • Thanks, Yolanda! I agree re: a move being a great way to clean house, so to speak. For all the pain and agony, it felt wonderful to get rid of so much stuff!

      Happy to be back online, too!

  4. Congrats on the move! I hate moving. I cry every time. I do love unpacking, though! We have had a few quick moves in the last few years that didn’t allow time for really purging stuff. I’m trying to slowly tackle the clutter this spring!

    Thanks as always for the links. Lots of interesting pondering on this maximum productivity vs slow life enjoyment conundrum!

    • Thanks! 🙂 I’m unpacking (more) books today – definitely rather enjoyable.

      I have been reading a lot in the vein of “productivity vs. slow life enjoyment.” It’s an endlessly fascinating subject and a puzzle to be solved, for sure.

      Good luck with your clutter purging!

  5. Dear friend,
    Images can be real life experience through writing. The nature and reality of working life together.’s Love and the power of travel writing. Then I could write a story, I can still write, but in reality does not. Every encouragement, love and blessing.

  6. Jamie, I so loved this post! Congrats on your new place. It’s kind of ironic that as writers we may forget the deep value of having our own reading time. It feeds the soul, doesn’t it?

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  8. Have you read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane? I thought it was a wonderful mix of what might happen if the magical world crossed paths with the ordinary.

    • I have read it and I liked it very much. I’m an unabashed Gaiman fan. I’ve seen him read/speak twice and really enjoy his novels. You’re right – they are a wonderful combination of the magical and the ordinary. If you like that type of story, you may also like Charles deLint. 🙂

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