Weekend Edition – Imagine A World of Writers Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

Imagine a World of Writers

"Dear Earth" by Katie Daisy via etsy

“Dear, Earth” by Katie Daisy via etsy

More people should write.

They should write about their days and their dreams, about their hopes and their fears, about their families and their histories and their possible futures. They should write lists and poems and wild ramblings that sound like the intoxicated rantings of a idiot savant. They should tell stories, wonderful, improbable, made-up stories. They should sink or dig or dive or fall or claw their way into that place inside where the stories live, and pull them out like blunt-edged gems from deep within the living, breathing earth. They should write lies that are true and truths that uncover lies. They should weave secrets into the spaces between the words, and then give those secrets gladly to the world.

For those of us bitten by the writing bug, it is near impossible (and quite terrifying) to imagine life without the ability to put our thoughts, ideas, and stories into words and onto the page. This simple act of using language to articulate the inner workings of our mind and heart serves to free the former and to ground the latter. Writing is both our wings and our roots.

I believe that the world would be a better place if more people would write.

I don’t mean writing professionally or even publicly. I mean that the world would be a better place if more people took the time to simply slow down and put into words how they are feeling, what they are experiencing, and why. We move too fast most of the time. We fly through our days and collapse into our oblivious nights. We live our lives in the context of other people’s stories, hardly giving a thought to our own.

It is all too easy for a lifetime to slip by unquestioned. And if we do not take the time to ask the questions, how will we ever know our answers? Not that the answers are all that important. It is the questions that matter. Writing helps us grasp the questions; and, in the process of seeking an answer, it helps us to understand the question more fully. Writing forces us to think more deeply and broadly and carefully. It  breaks a question open and invites us to explore. The process of writing – the digging in, the discovery, the meandering and wondering, the finding of the right words, the connecting of ideas and generating of more questions – makes it impossible for any question to be answered in simple black and white terms.The process of writing introduces not only all the grays that live in the thousands of stories behind a question, but every beautiful, brilliant color of life.

When it comes to writing, it is difficult to keep from slipping down the slope of my good intentions into a pit of proselytizing. And, even if I didn’t abhor the concept of coercive conversion, it would be silly to attempt such a thing here where I am, I imagine, preaching to the proverbial choir.

To write is a uniquely human skill that gives us the ability to transcend time and space, break the boundaries of reality, and understand the nature of life more fully. Writing connects us to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us. It is a powerful tool of self-discovery, communication, and self-expression. Writing gives us a magic lens through which to view our experiences with more depth and clarity, making us able to see into a moment in a different way. Writing helps us unlock questions and answers through analytical thinking, and it helps us create context and evoke empathy through creative play.

Imagine a world where writing is not considered a chore, a frivolous hobby, an indulgence, or the privilege of the few and gifted. Imagine a world where writing is simply part of what it means to be human. I wonder what that world would look like. I wonder.

What I’m {Learning About} Writing: You Need to Make Your Reader Care

book aurariaI downloaded Auraria by Tim Westover partly because it was free, but mostly because the highlighted promotional blurbs included this bit from Publisher’s Weekly: “Weaves tall tales and legends, Carrollian surrealism, and a fascinating cast of characters into a genuinely inventive novel that reads like steampunk via Mark Twain. Fact and fancy are intertwined cleverly and seamlessly in a top-notch, thoroughly American fantasy.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review) Sounds fabulous, right?

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t connect with the protagonist. Though the writing was lovely, and the setting and cast of characters was undeniably creative and whimsical, I just couldn’t muster much in the way of caring what happened.

Looking back, it’s interesting to note that the Publishers Weekly blurb does not mention the story – what is happening or why – in any way. It describes how the story is presented, but it doesn’t tell you what the story is about. It doesn’t ask a question that needs to be answered. It doesn’t even hint at the premise or the “what if” behind the novel.Sadly, this novel has earned a place on my “Did Not Finish” list in Goodreads.

Note to self: Make sure that you give readers a gripping reason to care about what happens to your protagonist and in your story. You don’t want to wind up in the unfinished pile.

What I’m Reading:  The Fairytales of Hermann Hesse

book hesse fairytalesAfter abandoning what was left of Auraria, I wanted  to read something that I knew would not disappoint. Since Auraria struck me as a bit fairytale-like, I decided to revisit an old favorite, The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse (translated by Jack Zipes).

I can’t recall exactly when I first began reading Hesse. It was quite far back in my youth, I think, a time when I was a little more starry-eyed. My memory of reading his books and stories was a feeling of being enlightened in small ways. It was a little surprising, then, that after all these years, these simple stories still held a sway over my head and heart.

There are three stories in this collection that are about the theme of artistic pursuits vs. worldly life. I read all three, “The Poet,” “The Fairy Tale About the Wicker Chair,” and “The Painter.” I also reread a story called “Iris,” primarily because it’s one that I remember reading. Though I could not recall the story’s details, I knew it was one I’d especially liked.

Interestingly, though the characters in Hesse’s fairy tales are, as is traditionally the case with the genre, only briefly “sketched” rather than being fully fleshed out, I was still able to feel a connection to them and to their stories. Unlike the challenge I had with Auraria, I cared enough about these people to continue reading to the end. Granted, short stories require a much lesser investment of time than a novel, but – still – I was not for a moment apathetic about the plight of the story’s players, or the discoveries they made. I’m looking forward to rereading more of these stories and thinking about how traditional tales like these might be adapted to a more contemporary kind of story telling. Hmmm … that might almost be a writing prompt. 😉

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 writing salvation gaiman Until next time – I wish you happy writing and happy reading! . Jamie Lee Wallace 

Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually. .

61 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – Imagine A World of Writers Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips

  1. Reblogged this on Crazy Beautiful and commented:
    “To write is a uniquely human skill that gives us the ability to transcend time and space, break the boundaries of reality, and understand the nature of life more fully. Writing connects us to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us. It is a powerful tool of self-discovery, communication, and self-expression. Writing gives us a magic lens through which to view our experiences with more depth and clarity, making us able to see into a moment in a different way. “

  2. Thank you Jamie. A great read! So many reasons in there why people should write. If only more people would jump on our band wagon of words, expression and story telling. My only regret is that I didn’t start writing sooner. Thanks again! Mark

    • Hello, Mark! Happy weekend. 🙂

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post.
      I am sure that you’re not the only one harboring the why-didn’t-I-start-sooner regret. I feel little twinges of that all the time … while I try to nudge myself closer and closer to working on more personal and creative projects.

      Did you happen to read the blog post I linked to above by @lumecluster? I have a feeling you may like it. 🙂

    • Thank you, Nancy. Nice to “meet” you, and not just because we share similar writing philosophies, but also because I see we’re both “Buffy” fans. 😉

      Happy writing!

  3. I’ve started to really look forward to your Weekend Edition, and this was as enjoyable an episode as ever. And I totally agree that everyone should write! I read a statistic once that 80% of Americans want to write a book. I think most people like the idea of it, it’s just the execution tends to be a lot harder than most people suspect.

    • Oh, thank you, Kaitlin. That’s so nice to hear! 🙂 #warmfuzzies

      80% of Americans want to write a book? That’s a lot of possible writers! I wonder, however, if instead of hanging all their hopes and expectations on the large and daunting task of writing an entire book – be it fiction or nonfiction – they committed to simply writing … even with no particular goal in mind. I wonder how many of those 80% never write anything because they aren’t writing The Thing. When, if they would just be happy with taking a baby step, they might now be writing journal entries, poetry, flash fiction, essays, anything.

      I wish we were taught from day one how to make writing not a thing we do, but a way we live … a part of our everyday existence. Funny … I mistyped that the first time and wrote, “… but a way we love.” Writing is a way we love, isn’t it? Like the quote from E.B. White (one of my favorite writers): “All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”

      PS – Did you update your blog’s look, or am I imagining it? Either way, looks sharp! 🙂

      • I’m glad to be a bearer of warm fuzzies. 🙂
        Yeah, it was in the New York Times piece here (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/28/opinion/think-you-have-a-book-in-you-think-again.html). I stumbled on it in a blog a while back when someone linked to it. Of course that author is not as supportive of the idea that everyone should write , but I agree that everyone should be encouraged to learn how to express themselves in a way that others can relate to, and writing is one of the best ways to do that, even if it’s small things they write.
        And yes, yes, I did. 🙂 Thanks for noticing; I had fun sprucing things up a bit.

      • An interesting piece. Thanks for the link. I have to say that, despite my dislike of his somewhat morose outlook, Mr. Epstein makes some valid points. In her work as a freelance editor for one of the better “vanity” presses, my mom encounters many books that would have been better off never seeing the printed page. Still, I do not think that means they should never have been written, only that perhaps they should not have been published except for the enjoyment of their authors.

        Not everyone has the necessary skills to become a successfully published and read author. The “and read” part is key. With the advent of all the new Indie publishing avenues, getting published is no longer the hard part. Earning your way into the hearts of readers is.

        But, my thinking is that even if being published (and/or read) is not a likely reality for a writer, that should not stop him or her from writing. Though I am moved to share my words in a variety of ways, much of the value I derive from writing comes from the writing itself – the process of thinking through an idea or a question or a story. Whether or not the result of that process ever sees the light of day doesn’t diminish the work I did.

        ANYway … thanks for sharing. Like I said – interesting perspective.

        And yay for sprucing things up. Looks great! 🙂

  4. I love your opening rant 🙂 It’s always my favourite part. Writing gives us wings. So true. Writing helps us discover which questions to ask. Also true. It is sadly true that many live unexamined lives – and this is more than sad – it is destroying the planet.
    I also have a did not finish list on Goodreads – and it is the saddest, most pathetic list of all. There’s not many books on there, but they are all there because of the very reason you say: I did not care how it ended, and I didn’t connect with the characters.
    Have a lovely weekend Jamie xo

    • I’m so glad you liked the opening, Sara. I struggled with it a bit this week – many false starts. And then I remembered that it’s usually best to say what you want with as much directness and simplicity as possible. Boom. Rant started. 😉

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only one with a “never finished” list. I feel guilty to send books to that exile, but I try to remember that there are only so many books in my lifetime. I don’t want to waste precious hours on stories that are just killing time.

      Love to your second dad. xo

  5. Hey Jamie.. This is a really interesting thought. There are many times i wished writing could have replaced talking. (Coming to think of it, its a really good process to filter content out of otherwise long talks ) Few conversations are better off on paper rather than being spread out in air (noise pollution is one way of putting it too..) Not that i despise talking in person , there are rarely instances where a conversation is more than information broadcasting and tons of relaying at that. There is this one quote which is pinned in to my mind for no apparent reason but made a lot of sense during many moments in my life.

    Dalai Lama says “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. When you listen, you learn something new..”

    Writing would make a lot more sense. It inhibits repitition and can reach new avenues,wider audience in an impressive span of time. Personally, more than the regret of not starting to write sooner, the thought of sitting down to write while it mutes many more future moments of your uncertain life with its repercussion on other events.. worries me more. The thought is horrifying and screams true especially to novice writers. (You have written about this years ago in your blog. Something on how writing consumes time.) Might seem like a silly thing but learning to cope with it takes a lot of time. Thank you for writing this Jamie. Does pave paths of new grounds of thoughts. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Hello, Pretam.
      I love that quote. 🙂

      Writing refines our thoughts, doesn’t it? As you say, it cuts away the excess and the repetition. It gets more quickly to the core of what we are trying to say. And, perhaps most importantly, it slows the process down. Rather than letting words fly, unchecked, from our lips, we take more care in putting words to paper.

      Thanks for being here and for sharing your thoughts.
      Have a lovely rest of the weekend!

  6. Reblogged this on Brokencrowe's Tangents on Writing and commented:
    This. This. This. Writing and story telling have the power to change the world. Call me an optimist, but I agree so much with the sentiments in this post. Writing has the power to shake boundaries, to cause people to cry, to form personal attachment to words and fictitious characters!

    This post really resonates with me. Give it a look. :).

  7. “If we do not take the time to ask our questions, how will we ever know our answers?” This right there is enough of a reason to reflect in writing more often. Really enjoyed your post 🙂

    • It is. 🙂

      So glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for taking a moment to say so.
      Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  8. Wow!!! so well written and so deep – i started blogging regularly a week ago thanks to writing 101. Namaste to you – which means, from my soul to yours I salute you.

    • Thank you, and namaste to you, too.
      Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. Enjoy the journey and good l uck on your writing 101 project!

  9. Wonderful quote and equally wonderful post. People have to be more open about their feelings. Especially those who are connected to each other intimately. I find that most couple (or family) don’t really know each other’s deepest thoughts, longings, and fears. They just never discuss them. Perhaps they have to start by writing letters to each other. For some it’s easier that way than talking face to face.

    • Sadly, I think you are right about people, even family, being mostly unaware of their loved ones’ deepest thoughts. Sometimes, writing is an easier way to bridge those gaps. Sometimes, the writing doesn’t even have to be directed at anyone in particular, just sharing your words reveals things that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

      Thanks for adding this perspective to the conversation.
      🙂

  10. “Writing connects us to ourselves, to others, and to the world around us. It is a powerful tool of self-discovery, communication, and self-expression. Writing gives us a magic lens through which to view our experiences with more depth and clarity, making us able to see into a moment in a different way. Writing helps us unlock questions and answers through analytical thinking, and it helps us create context and evoke empathy through creative play. Imagine a world where writing is not considered a chore, a frivolous hobby, an indulgence, or the privilege of the few and gifted. Imagine a world where writing is simply part of what it means to be human. I wonder what that world would look like. I wonder.”

    Seriously – I am in AWE of your talent, lady! If I could whistle, I would scare the patrons of my little cafe right now 😉

    I missed you, sweetie. Since I couldn’t be here last week, I decided to make your post my ‘Priority Sunday Read’ 😉 hehe

    Love you and your talent #HUGSSSS

    OODLES of love
    Kitto

    PS: As someone who is on a quest to expand her vocabulary, I find you to be a great master. I learn a new word every week. Today’s Word of the Day: Proselytizing

    PPS: Thank you for Neil’s quote – I NEEDED to hear that today ❤

    • Hello, Kitto! Missed you, too! 🙂

      Always so nice to see you here. You bring such enthusiasm to the page. Thank you.

      I clicked on over to your site, and have to ask – am I crazy, or is it a different or updated site from last time I visited? Not sure, but it felt new. Loving the orange.

      I love that quote from Neil, too. I love the way it balances hope, reality, and a focus on just getting the writing done … one word at a time.

      I hope you are well & enjoying the weekend.
      Thanks, as always, for being here!
      xo

    • Thank you so much. I do not know if I can claim wisdom, but I will gladly offer enthusiasm.
      So glad you enjoyed the post. I just enjoyed taking a little detour to your site to look at all your wonderful photo essays. You have a wonderful eye, and the writing that accompanies the images is a pleasure to read.
      Thanks for coming by!

  11. Writing is therapy for many people, it helps clear the cobwebs and to put things in perspective. When I was younger, I used it for a means to get my feelings out to someone I may not have had the guts to confront orally. Whether they saw it or not didn’t matter, I relieved myself. I suppose that is why I write.

    • I used to do the same thing – use writing to communicate when a face-to-face, verbal conversation was just too much to handle. I seem to have outgrown my need to do that (in most cases), but I definitely still write to process my feelings and thoughts. Sometimes the writing is about release, and sometimes it’s simply about exploration. Either way, it’s an incredibly valuable tool for me, each and every day.

      “… clear the cobwebs …” Exactly. 🙂

    • Thanks so much. Apologies for the late response, but very glad you liked the post, and I hope you found some of the other blogs interesting and helpful as well. 🙂

  12. Reading this, Rilke comes to mind: to love the questions, like locked rooms, and to live the questions now. I think it’s about living into the questions == walking our way through them. And writing allows us to write our way into the answers.

    • Yes, yes, YES. I almost included the Rilke quote. 🙂

      “Living into the questions” … I love that.

      Thanks so much.

  13. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Planting the Seeds of a Writing Life Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write – Write to Live

  14. Pingback: Weekend Edition: Love Your Mistakes Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write – Write to Live

  15. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Writing the Hard Stuff | Live to Write – Write to Live

  16. Pingback: Saturday Edition – In Troubled Times, Write | Live to Write – Write to Live

  17. Pingback: Writing through Pain and Confusion Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links | Live to Write – Write to Live

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s