Though the Type-A part of my brain would very much like to be the kind of blogger who always has several posts “in the can,” so to speak, I’ve never managed to pull it off. Despite my good intentions, I’m always writing more or less in real time – putting my thoughts down and hitting “Publish” in a single sitting.
It’s not something I’m exactly proud of. In my perfect world, I’d be able to take more time and even (gasp!) do a second or third draft. As it is, my best case scenario is a week in which I was able to spend twenty minutes (usually while sitting ringside at my daughter’s riding lesson) to jot down rough notes or even a loose outline for my weekend edition in advance of sitting down to write.
For the past few weeks, that best case scenario hasn’t been an option. In addition, I’ve even fallen off the wagon when it comes to keeping up with my favorite writing-related blogs. For years, my typical evening routine has included a half hour or so of reading blog posts on my iPhone while I wait for my daughter to fall asleep. But, lately I’ve been distracted from my standard reading fare by the news. For this reason, I haven’t been able to share my list of favorite writing posts in these Sunday missives. I apologize for that. I feel like I’m shirking a responsibility or breaking an unspoken promise.
This morning, I thought about scrambling through as many of the 656 unread posts in my reader as I could in order to serve up a selection of picks per my usual post format. But then I thought, “Why?” Why try to force something that isn’t coming naturally? I’ll get back to my regular format in time, but for now I need something different. And, you might need something different, too.
These posts were never meant to be a slick and polished presentation of formulaic content. I think part of the reason I’ve never managed to get myself to write them ahead of time is because, deep down, I believe that doing so might change the “feel” of them for you as you read them, and – just as importantly – for me as I write them. If I come to my keyboard and don’t know what to say, I’ll share that. And if I come to my keyboard unprepared to share my usual collection of posts filled with writing and publishing advice, that’s okay, too.
Back before blogging evolved into “content marketing,” it was just a bunch of people journaling for an audience. We weren’t trying to sell anything or build a platform or create a brand for ourselves. There was no strategy or editorial calendar. We were just writing. We were just sharing whatever was on our mind that day. It’s all much more sophisticated now, and there’s nothing wrong with that; but the freeform part of my brain revels in telling the Type-A part to relax a little and just enjoy the ride. I hope you will stick around and enjoy the ride, too, even when it takes an unexpected detour.
A Few Blog Posts:
Continuing on the theme of blog posts about the importance of writing in challenging times, I have these posts to share. They provided me with comfort and inspiration, and I hope they do the same for you.
Grady puts my feelings into words more eloquently than I have:
It’s Saturday, and usually that means I round up all of the week’s best writing about books and related topics for you. But this is an odd week for thinking about books: As much of the country reels in the wake of an extremely contentious presidential election, it can feel pointless at best, and actively destructive at worst, like fiddling while Rome burns.
So I’m going to use this space to collect some thoughts from writers about why art is important, and why it’s especially important now, when so much feels so uncertain and so dangerous to so many. We need art more than ever, and here’s why.
And then she shares inspiring quotes from Toni Morrison, Junot Diaz, Dan Plepenbring, Chinua Achebe, John Irving, and Roger Ebert (whose quote is about the power of movies to create empathy).
No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear – In times of dread, artists must never choose to remain silent. If you’d like more badass advice and encouragement from Toni Morrison, this piece published by The Nation provides hard perspective and specific instruction on what to do now.
In the post. Now What?, Eric Utne collects the thoughts of several writers including Naomi Klein, Charles Eisenstein, and Rebecca Solnit among others. My favorite quote is this one from Michael Meade:
Solstice means “sun stands still.” At mid-winter it means the sun stopping amidst a darkening world. We stop as the sun stops, the way one’s heart can stop in a crucial moment of fear or beauty; then begins again, but in an altered way… There may be no better time than the dark times we find ourselves in to rekindle the instinct for uniting together and expressing love, care and community.
But politeness is no substitute for morality, and won’t save us in the end. We only get to decide who we are. As a writer and a person my bedrock is perennial hope for a better world than this one, and for that I’ve borne the radical brand, not by choice. As outlaws go I’m as boring as toast, a polite, southern female who’s never broken any law but the speed limit. Despite this gentility I’ve endured FBI investigations and personal threats, and once had to travel on book tour with a bodyguard. This was during Republican administrations that sounded infinitely friendlier to dissent than the one that’s now on deck. So you’ll forgive my weak faith in broad-shouldered American tolerance and the guaranteed free pass for good behavior.
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Books I’m Reading:
Renowned author Natalie Babbit passed away on October 31st of this year. Best known for her novel, Tuck Everlasting, Babbit wrote numerous other children’s books that will no doubt endure for generations to come.
In honor of Babbit’s life and work, I recently read two of her books.
Tuck Everlasting was made into both a movie, starring Sissy Spacek and William Hurt, and a short-lived Broadway musical. I’ve never seen the movie, but I very much enjoyed the book.
While the story is simple on the surface, it’s easy to see why it has captured readers’ hearts for so many decades. The question of eternal life is a big one, and Babbit explores it gently in the story of Winnie Foster’s unexpected meeting with a family who have accidentally become immortal.
If you haven’t read this classic, it’s worth the hour or so you will spend wrapped in its story.
The Search for Delicious is less well known, but I’ve had a copy sitting on my bookshelf for years. I think I may have picked it up at a library book sale, but I hadn’t ever read it. Still, the concept intrigued me enough that I’d kept the old paperback despite the book purges that accompanied the five times my daughter and I moved over the last eight years. From the publisher’s site:
Gaylen, the King’s messenger, a skinny boy of twelve, is off to poll the kingdom, traveling from town to farmstead to town on his horse, Marrow. At first it is merely a question of disagreement at the royal castle over which food should stand for Delicious in the new dictionary. But soon it seems that the search for Delicious had better succeed if civil war is to be avoided.
Gaylen’s quest leads him to the woldweller, a wise, 900-year-old creature who lives alone at the precise center of the forest; to Canto, the minstrel who sings him an old song about a mermaid child and who gives him a peculiar good-luck charm; to the underground domain of the dwarfs; and finally to Ardis who might save the kingdom from havoc.
Interestingly, I found some of the thematic messages in the story to be very appropriate for our current times. Again, a quick story that is worth reading … even if you’re a grown up.
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Sundry Links and Articles:
There is a new, experimental video game that is designed to get people writing. Elegy for a Dead World invites “players” to explore three, long-dead worlds and record their observations. Each world is based on the work of a poet from the British Romantic Era: Shelley, Byron, and Keats. How about that?
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Finally, a quote for the week:
Here’s to writing in the moment, finding your courage, and knowing that – even at 3AM – you’re never alone.
Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, 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.
This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.