At this time of the year, I always feel as if the days are passing in a kaleidoscope-like frenzy that leaves me wondering which way is up. No matter how prepared I intend to be, I am always running late. On everything. Shopping, writing deadlines, cleaning, visiting, card writing … you name it, and I’m behind on it.
I do my best to manufacture small havens of quiet amidst the chaos, but lately those moments of respite have been few and far between. It’s okay. Over the years, I have grown used to this routine and I know that the wildness of these days will eventually spend itself and I will be left to happily curl up on the sofa with a soft blanket, a mug of tea, a satisfyingly thick book, and my journal.
That day can’t come fast enough. 😉
How goes your journey through the last few weeks of the year? Are your celebrations shaping up to your liking? Are you feeling ready for the holidays? What kind of goodbye will you wish 2016? What are your favorite guilty pleasures at this time of year?
As promised, I will continue to highlight one or two “deep” posts in these Sunday missives – posts by writers who are exploring and addressing the role of art and specifically writing in the world today.
In the New York Times article, Now Is the Time to Talk About What We’re Really Talking About, novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes, among other things, about the importance of accuracy in the words we choose and the stories we tell:
Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriolbetween Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.
Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.
Stories aren’t merely for entertainment – no matter what the writer intends. Stories are entertaining so we’ll pay attention to them – it’s biological. Stories press the pause button, allowing us to slip out of our own lives the better to experience the protagonist’s inner struggle. Stories thus tacitly change our perception of what’s right and wrong. What is sacred and what is profane. What is fair and what is not.
Stories are simulations that put facts (real and imagined) into a human context that gives them meaning and makes them actionable.
And so your novel will change how your readers see the world. It will also – in ways large and small — change what they do in the world.
Last but not least, in his post Putting Your Purpose on the Page (also for Writer Unboxed), Don Maass writes about the power of fiction to change the world and offers inspiration and tactical tips for writers who want to do just that:
If your intention in writing is to “illuminate” or “explore”, or simply to entertain, why are you aiming so low? Make a statement. Declare yourself. Teach us what we don’t know. Show us how to accomplish that which we are afraid to do. Don’t just challenge our thinking, change it. Don’t just create conflict, shine a light on injustice, stir our timid hearts, make us want to leap up and act, show us the better world in which we could live. Don’t just warn us, inspire us to change.
The novels that will change the remainder of the 21st Century have yet to be written. You have a keyboard. You have the craft. You have the eyes, mind and heart of a great storyteller. What are you waiting for? As I commented the other day, we are all writers. The worst thing we could do, especially now, is to keep quiet.
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My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:
- Anti-Heroes and Villains: What’s the Difference (and How Do You Write Them Well)? by @aliventures
- The Writer as Compass Rose by @sarahrcallender
- My Cat, Teaspoon by @SPressfield (This one was a special favorite this week!)
- Pick a Genre and Run With It by @SPressfield
PUBLISHING & MARKETING
- Writing Wednesdays: Don’t Be Afraid to Make Sh*t Up by @SPressfield
- 7 Excuses We Use That Crush Our Dreams by @jeffbullas
THE WRITING LIFE
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Sundry Links and Articles:
The Oatmeal is mostly known for it’s snarky style, but “Plane” is both poignant and inspiring. It’s a story I didn’t know about one of the most prolific and successful storytellers of our time, and a story that reminds us that even though we may feel helpless, we should still try to help people.
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Finally, a quote for the week:
Here’s to pockets of calm in whatever storm you’re navigating, holiday cheer that lights up your days and nights, and the courage and passion to tell your stories.
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.