Embracing the Journey, Each Twist and Turn
Autumn is in full swing here. After weeks of blue skies with n’ere a cloud in sight, Mother Nature has changed her tune. Each day this week, I have woken to gray drizzle and a raw-edged wind that is more malevolent than playful. There is a damp chill in the air that pries its way indoors, reminding me that Winter’s wrath may only be a few short weeks away.
I don’t mind this weather. After the frantic energy of our recent move, these monochromatic days are something of a relief. The cold and wet give me ample excuse to remain ensconced – guilt free – in my new home, puttering through the boxes that remain to be unpacked. The wind that rakes over the treetops and whistles by the windows raises in my heart a sense of wistful agitation.
I remember days like this from my childhood. I remember standing in the middle of a wide open field under charcoal skies with a mid-air cyclone twisting the leaves above my head. Rooted to the ground and looking up into the clouds, I felt like a wild thing. I tingled all over with an electric awareness of something I could never name. I felt connected to the whole world, and yet apart from it. The fall wind rushing around me seemed to be calling me back to a home I couldn’t remember.
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Fall has always been, for me, a time of reflection, renewal, and change. It is a time of endings and beginnings, a threshold between the seasons. This year, being in a new house, these blustery days feel like a semicolon that has inserted a pregnant pause into the turning of the year. And in that expectant moment, I find myself considering my writing life and reimagining my journey.
Each writer’s path is unique and “right” for that writer. There is no magic formula, no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a writer. Comparing your journey to another writer’s journey is futile. It serves no purpose since each of you must find your own way. Your paths may cross or even run in tandem for a while, but ultimately you will each need to make your own choices and take your own turnings.
We don’t know, nor do we need to know, where any path might lead us. Writing is a journey, not a destination. You are never done with writing, you are always working at it. Though you may have an idea of where you are going, focusing all your energy on that false end point will not help you. It is better to stay here, in the moment, embracing the journey no matter where it takes you. The point is to travel the road awake and with intention so that you can read each signpost and take advantage of every opportunity for adventure and growth.
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Often, the day-to-day responsibilities and obligations of our lives consume us, leaving us only enough energy to sleep walk through our “real” lives. My move, for instance, has commandeered the lion’s share of my time and thoughts over the past few months. My writing was forced to exist on the edges of this urgent crisis. Sometimes, it feels like my creative self is subsisting on a meager life support system. It feels like my energy is all ebb and no flow.
But, I know that such a state won’t last forever; and I can be patient. I can stay creatively awake in a little corner of my mind even as I spend all my waking hours handling the non-creative tasks that demand my attention. As I’ve said many times before, a writer is not only a writer when she is putting words down. A writer is a writer all of the time. Writing is not a hobby or even a vocation, it is a way of life.
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The uniqueness of each writer’s path is a beautiful thing. It means each of us gets to experience our own untold tale. Like a literal journey, the writing journey never leaves you standing still. You are always moving toward one thing and away from another. Your direction and next destination may change, but that doesn’t mean the journey is over. In fact, your direction matters little. Like exploring a new place, writing is a discovery. It gives you the opportunity and the tools to stop and look around, take in the world, and see inside your own heart.
And then, having embarked on your curious and courageous exploration, through your writing you have, if you choose to take it, a chance to share your discoveries with others, to make new connections that inspire new adventures, which in turn reveal new discoveries.
Being a writer is like living in a perpetual season of autumn. It’s like being abroad and at home at the same time, like always stepping over the threshold onto a new path that leads you to a new part of your journey. There are twists and turns, your practice ebbs and flows, but if you simply put one foot in front of the other with dedication and intention, you will travel far and find much to write home about.
What I’m Writing:
Despite the chaos and overwhelm of my days right now, I am thankful that I have so far been able to carve out a few hours every other week to write my column for the local paper. One piece I wrote easily did double duty, also appearing in the inaugural edition of the digital magazine, Sophisticated Fantasy. This publication is the work a client who I wish lived closer because we would definitely get together for tea and long chats. As it is, each time we get on the phone to talk shop, our conversations veer way off course into exciting but tangential territory. The good news is that these side trips invariably deliver important insights that are helping her to reimagine her fantasy boutique at Gryphon Piffles.
In the meantime, she has taken on the not-so-small challenge of launching her own digital magazine. My first piece for her (I am sure there will be others) is a short essay on Mabon, the pagan holiday of thanksgiving, reflection, and balance that is celebrated on the fall equinox. I hope you’ll give it a read, and maybe also explore some of the other pieces in the September issue. Enjoy!
What I’m Reading:
As I mentioned last week, I had a lot of time while preparing for our move (cleaning, painting kitchen cabinets, packing) to enjoy the pleasure of listening to audio books while engaged in manual labor. Another of the books I read in this way is Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes, Please.
I’m not usually a big fan of memoirs, but I was intrigued by this one because Amy Poehler, along with her frequent partner in crime, Tina Fey, are two women whom I find fascinating. They are smart, funny, and irreverent, but also seem like very grounded individuals with good hearts. Yes, Please demonstrated exactly this about Poehler in a way that made me wish we could be friends.
The book is a series of essays, some of which feature cameos by a range of characters including Poehler’s parents, Patrick Stewart, Carol Burnett, and Mike Schur. The chapters feature titles like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon,” and – my favorite – “The Robots Will Kill Us All.”
Surprisingly sweet in places (a passage she wrote about taking her sons out to see the moon nearly brought me to tears), this book was a delight to listen to. It felt like sitting down at the bar for a drink with a really cool chick and having one of those rare, unplanned conversations that make you feel better about humanity in general.
And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:
- The 5 Building Blocks Of A Brand by @bernadettejiwa
- Why time is a feminist issue by @BrigidSchulte
- All Storytelling is About Metaphor by @SPressfield
- Our Life Begins: The Age of Play via @farnamstreet
- The Art of Submission: On the Importance of a Writing Tribe by Emily Lackey
- The 6 Most Common Marketing Mistakes Made by Authors by Jon Bard
Finally, a quote for the week:
Welcome to your writer’s journey. I hope you enjoy each step and each side adventure and each surprise ending.
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 Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.