The Importance of Readers

Tonight a friend invited me over for dinner with her book group. All eleven of them have read my books, and Marianna invited me over for dinner and discussion. I am so looking forward to this, and to meeting with folks to talk about Clock and Dagger. I am also so grateful for the opportunity. It is a kind gesture by a friend, one of many by friends and family over the course of the last year.

One year ago, on October 6, 2015 I realized a lifelong dream and became a published novelist. It has been a fun journey so far. I have a couple of author thoughts that I’d like to share.

When someone says “I read your book” I stop breathing until they finish their sentence.

I hate it when someone apologizes because they borrowed one of my books from the library rather than buying it. I love that my book is available in the library, and that folks are borrowing it! Readers are readers, and without readers there aren’t books.

I don’t go out of my way to read reviews, but I know that a lot of folks do when they are thinking about buying a book. I am so grateful to the people who take time to add their thoughts to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads.

Getting an email or seeing a Facebook post about my books never, every gets old. I had a woman I know write me a thoughtful note about Clock and Dagger,  going into detail about the plot and some of the characters. I told her how much I appreciated it, and that she’d made my day. It reminded me to write notes to folks whose work I appreciate.

I still get a thrill when I meet a reader who I don’t know personally.

Friends, do you reach out to authors you don’t know personally? Do you post reviews? How do you connect with authors?

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Julie Hennrikus writes the Clock Shop Mystery series as Julianne Holmes. Clock and Dagger came out in August. Just Killing Time was the debut in the series, and was nominated for a Best First Novel Agatha award.

 

Weekend Writing Ruminations and Links – The Odd Thing About Time

crows-timeTime flies, she said.

But where does it go? he asked.

In circles mostly, she answered.

I wish I knew more about time. I wish I understood quantum physics and theories of time relativity. Maybe then I would have power over time.

One of my recurring childhood fantasies involved a magic pocket watch that could stop time. I dearly wanted to be able to freeze time and bring the whole world to a halt so that I could catch my breath. I was fascinated with the idea of never running out of time, of being able to “have it all” because there was always enough time to do everything.

I could have used that watch this summer. I feel like this was the summer that wasn’t. My time was eaten up by projects that ripped hours from my days and swallowed them whole, making no distinction between weekdays and weekends. If only I’d had that watch, I could have stopped the world long enough to finish my work and still had time to indulge in the simple pleasures of summer irresponsibility.

But, I don’t have the watch. And neither do you. All we have, you and I, is the same twenty-four hours as everyone else and the very real power to decide how we spend them.

_jamie sig

 

 


 What I’m Reading:

book-many-selves-k-northI have just finished listening to the astonishing debut of author Emma Geen. I wish I could remember who first told me about the novel, The Many Selves of Katherine North, because I would like to send that person a thank you note.

The reviews on this book use words like exhilarating, horrifying, compelling, and riveting to describe the story of a girl named Kit who is a phenomenaut – someone whose consciousness is projected into the bodies of lab-grown animals for research purposes. Readers quoted on her website refer to the book as a “literary thriller,” “spine-chilling science fiction,” and a “compulsively readable sci-fi thriller,” but I like Havi Carel’s description best, “Geen weaves together philosophy and science fiction to create a magical, intelligent and intense novel.”

I was initially drawn to this book because I was intrigued by the idea of humans being able to project themselves into the lives of other animals, and I was not disappointed. While Geen’s disclaimer at the end of the book makes it clear that she is not a zoologist, she is nonetheless able to transfix her readers with the way she describes life as other creatures: fox, spider, whale, eagle, tiger. Her immersion into these other lives goes beyond the physical perceptions and sensations. When Kit slips into another body, she also slips into another set of emotions and impulses. It was a fascinating and thought-provoking shift in perspective.

While I was definitely carried along by the story (even becoming so caught up in the last few chapters that I abandoned my Friday afternoon deadlines and surrendered to a half hour of dedicated listening in the middle of the day), as a writer, I was also impressed by Geen’s prowess with both structure and language. Though I already own the audio version of this book (which was, by the way, beautifully narrated by Katy Sobey), I may end up purchasing a hard copy of the book. I want to be able to leaf through the pages so I can better understand the way Geen built the story, and there are probably (no lie) hundreds of passages that I’d end up underlining for future reference. 

Kit’s narrative bounces back and forth between two timelines – present and past – that eventually converge. To add to the complexity, much of the story takes place while Kit is projecting as other animals. Despite all this bouncing around in time and place and body, the story hangs together in a way that’s easy to follow. Geen does an excellent job of creating a pattern of rhythm and context that makes it easy for the reader (even one who is listening as I was) to stay in-step with the story.

And then there is Geen’s use of language. Had I been reading this as a print book, I would have had to keep a pencil with me at all times so I could make notes in the margins on every other page.  In Geen’s hands, something as simple as describing looking out onto the day turns into poetry, “I wake to the sky flashing lilac. Thunder follows soon after, a sound like the foundations of Heaven grinding loose. The silvered gleam of rain and vegetation writhes against the dark.”

Coming back to theme, I once again have to agree with Havi Carel’s assessment that this book is as much about philosophy as it is about science fiction. Or, perhaps, the two are so closely related as to be much the same thing. At any rate, I found this book to be a powerful catalyst for musings on what it means to be human, how we define self, the relationship between humans and animals, the relationships between humans, and how we perceive our lives. As deep as Geen dives into these waters, taking us along for the ride, it’s clear to see that there are depths still waiting to be explored. The Many Selves of Katherine North is an invitation to sink a little further into the darkness in search of the light.

··• )o( •··

My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:

CRAFT

PUBLISHING & MARKETING

INSPIRATION

THE WRITING LIFE

··• )o( •··

Photo by Gina Easley

Photo by Gina Easley

Being so busy with deadlines means that I haven’t had much time for curling up with novel-length reads. (Hence, my liberal use of audio books to feed my story habit.) I can usually manage, however, to carve out a few minutes for shorter pieces; and have been known to bribe myself to the finish line on a piece of client work with the promise of a short story or an essay.

This week, I very happily returned to one of my favorite online stomping grounds, Full Grown People, and had the pleasure of reading Machines We Dream Into by Randy Osborne. This brief piece touches on themes of aging, art, and human interaction. If you have a few minutes, I recommend it.

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Sundry Links and Articles:

emotion-wordsI came across this quirky post, 23 Emotions People Feel But Can’t Explain. on either Twitter or Facebook, and although I can’t verify that these are real words (the list looks like it covers a variety of languages), I absolutely loved this collection of emotions.

My favorites:

Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own

Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops

Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm

··• )o( •··

On a related note, there was this little gem that I initially saw on Facebook, but ultimately tracked back to a tumblr site called Red Blood, Black Ink, written by someone named Raquel. I just loved this piece. It’s a feeling I’ve felt countless times in my life.

I don’t know, my favorite was always witch weather. That moment that in a gust of wind or in the rumbling sky or at the edge of a fog bank where suddenly, you feel different. A restlessness, a sense of longing for a place that does not exist. I don’t know if anyone else has felt the electric tense changing of that moment. It calls the magic to your skin. For a moment, you feel ancient and powerful and lonely, as if you forgot something important. Witch weather. For some reason, in that wild instant: you remember you are alive, and that means some part of you belongs to the everlasting.

··• )o( •··

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin-running-out-of-time

Here’s to making the best use of each hour you have – reading, writing, dreaming. 
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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 FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

Resources for Readers

As a writer, I’m also a huge reader. Over the last 10 years, I’ve transitioned from someone who reads all my books in paper form to someone who uses multiple formats to get all my reading done. I love listening to books on CD and I always have a book on my Kindle app on my phone. Now I’m never, ever caught without a book to read!bookssmall

I use my local library all the time, mostly for CDs to listen to. If they don’t have the book I want, I can usually get it through inter-library loan.

One resource I didn’t use until recently is the online library resources I have access to with my library card. I’ve tried to use it multiple times in the past but there has always been some difficulty with using a Mac computer and getting access to the online library.

Well, either it’s gotten a lot easier or I’ve gotten a lot smarter—okay, it’s definitely gotten a lot easier—but I now have access to a whole new world of library resources.

You can get started by downloading the Overdrive app to your smart phone or going to the Overdrive website on your computer. Once there, you choose your local library and enter your library card number to get access to the state library resources. In my case, I have access to the NH State Library.

The NH State Library works very similarly to your local library. You can check out books that are available and you can put a hold on books that are already checked out.

Here are some of the resources available to you:

Audiobooks: my favorite way to read a book these days! You can download a book using the Overdrive app and listen on your phone or you can listen on your computer while you clean the kitchen!

Periodicals: I downloaded the Nook app to my phone and then checked out the latest Writer’s Digest Magazine. Once I’m done I can delete the magazine, but I don’t have to. Periodicals, once downloaded, are not returned. You can read them and keep them for as long as you like.

E-books: You can check out books and return them just as in the brick and mortar library, or they are returned automatically when your time is up. No more late fees!

Videos: The NH State Library apparently only has one video available, but if you have access to another state library, you might have a bigger selection.

Before I go, I’ll just mention one other reading resource you need to know about, if you don’t already. Through the website BookBub, you can sign up to receive a daily email with free and low-cost books from best-selling authors, among others. You can get the newest books here; you just have to scroll through the daily email. Not every author on this list is someone you’ve heard of, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the (free) books I’ve read using this website. I just download the books to my kindle app.

I love having my own personal library I can carry with me everywhere. It’s a book lovers dream come true, especially a frugal book lover!

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I’m a writer, blogger, and master life coach, among other things. I’m an avid reader as well as an almost daily writer.

 

 

 

On Creative Drought Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links Jul 31

Even a withered stalk can generate a beautiful flower.

Even a withered stalk can generate a beautiful flower.

While our situation is not as severe as the one in California or many others around the world, this summer has been one of the driest in recent history for our little north-of-Boston town. Water bans are in effect all across the region, causing lawns to wither and crisp under the cruel and oppressive rays of the sun. Garden plants and flowers wilt and fade during the day, recovering as best they can in the slightly cooler and blessedly darker overnight hours. Rooted in the ground, the parched plants have no escape from the heat or the searing touch of the sun’s rays. They can only endure in silence and hope to survive long enough to feel the life-giving caress of a good, soaking rain.

For weeks now, we have been watching the weather reports for any signs of precipitation. On a few occasions, the meteorologists have forecast rain, but it seems like our tiny town has some kind of forcefield around it. Again and again, our hearts are lifted by the promise of rain, but more often than not, the storm detours around us, or the drops evaporate before reaching the ground. Even last weekend, when towns on all sides were ravaged by impressive thunderstorms, we had only a brief shower that barely managed to properly wet the dry earth before rushing out to sea.

I feel for the plants. I can imagine how they pine for a long, slow drink of water. I can imagine this because I have been feeling the same way about my creative work lately. Summer arrived at my doorstep with a flurry of client projects, and while I’m always grateful to be gainfully employed, keeping up with the deadlines has meant putting aside not only my Big Picture creative projects, but all of my daily creative and self-care routines as well.

My morning pages practice has dwindled to only a few pages every couple of weeks. I have only done yoga (a practice which provides me with time and headspace for nurturing random thoughts and writing ideas) a half dozen times in the last four or five months. My pleasure reading has been slow to the point of having to sometimes back-track when I return to a book because it’s been so long since my last read that I’ve forgotten what was happening in the story.

Each of us faces period of creative drought. Whether we’re overwhelmed with work, dealing with a personal crisis, or have had our creative time usurped by the family and social obligations of summer, there will be days (or weeks, or months) when we simply can’t make the time we’d like to nurture our creative projects. Though I’m in the middle of such a period, and – I won’t lie – am feeling a little cranky about it, I can still step back and offer a little encouragement to others who might be going through a similar experience right now:

  • Number One: This too shall pass. Yes, I know it’s a bit trite, but it’s also true. Whatever is taking up your time and keeping you from your creative endeavors will eventually move on and out of your life. You will get back to your projects and your dreams. You might have to be patient for a while, but that’s not such a bad thing. Just try to roll with it.
  • Number Two: Even in times of creative drought, you can create. While I have been feeling frustrated and put out by my inability to make time for my usual creative pursuits, I am trying to remember that there are tiny creative acts that only take a few minutes. I may not have large chunks of time to write on a story or tackle the complex task of organizing source materials for a larger work, but I can pen one or two lines or edit a photo for Instagram or doodle in the margin of my notebook. Those may not be impressive accomplishments, but something is better than nothing.
Despite it's diminutive size, our smallest tomato plant is yielding the most robust crop of the season.

Despite it’s diminutive size, our smallest tomato plant is yielding the most robust crop of the season.

We must remember that we are not the drought. The drought is just an external circumstance, not a reflection of our creative spark or spirit. Even if we are unable to engage in the external act of creation, the source of our creativity is alive and well – hunkered down beneath the cracked earth, just waiting until the rains some so it can burst forth and blossom.

Just you wait and see.

_jamie sig

 

 


My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:

CRAFT

PUBLISHING & MARKETING

INSPIRATION

THE WRITING LIFE

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Finally, a quote for the week:

I’m stealing borrowing this week’s quote from the lovely and delightful Sara Foley, who borrowed it in turn from Raising Ecstasy:

pin vonnegut edge

Here’s to getting close to the edge, weathering the droughts, and always being ready to emerge from underground when the rains finally come.
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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 FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Summer Reading Makes the World a Better Place

Summer Reading II by Catherine Nolin

Summer Reading II by Catherine Nolin

When I think back to my childhood summers, one of my favorite memories is the feeling of coming home from the library with a heavy armload of new books. Our weekly forays to the children’s room were a cherished ritual. There were (and still are) few things that filled my heart with such happy anticipation as a book not yet read.

Now that I’m all grown up, I love reading in any season, but there’s something about summertime that suits the literary pursuit particularly well. Even people who rarely read during the rest of the year are apt to pick up a “beach read” when they head to the shore. Perhaps it’s the way slipping between the covers of a book so perfectly complements our summertime proclivity for escape.

But there’s more to reading than just escape. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the stories I devoured during childhood were a significant part of my education on how to be a good human being. Looking back now at my book selections from those early years, it’s not difficult to identify the roots of my personal mythology. From the elementary grades through high school, I read almost exclusively fantasy and science fiction; and my virtual excursions into the imaginative and wondrous worlds of authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. LeGuin, C.S. Lewis, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams, and many others shaped my view of the world. The boundless diversity of the characters, ideas, beliefs, and themes in these books opened my mind and my heart, page by page.

“If minds are truly alive they will seek out books, for books are the human race recounting its memorable experiences, confronting its problems, searching for solutions, drawing the blueprints of the future.” Those words were penned by Harry Allen Overtreet, an American writer and lecturer best known for his book The Mature Mind, which contains such gems as, “All children, Diderot once observed, are essentially criminal. It is merely our good luck that their physical powers are still too limited to permit them to carry out their destructiveness.” Overstreet points out that maturity – the development of empathy, patience, respect, etc. – is the result of cultivating a particular mindset, not of chronological aging. Sadly, our society is plagued with immature grown-ups who never evolve beyond the self-centered perspective that, in adults, leads to sociopathic behavior.

Happily, there is hope. Study after study has revealed that reading fiction has a very real and positive influence on our ability to empathize with others. When we read fiction, we experience life from the perspective of the protagonist. We put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. What’s more, some studies indicate that reading fiction stimulates the same neurological regions that would be activated if we were going through the protagonist’s experience ourselves.

So, stories can expand our knowledge, insight, and capacity for caring. They can also, apparently, heal. According to a fascinating article by Ceridwen Dovey in The New Yorker, bibliotherapy, a term that dates back to the early 1900s, is the practice of reading for therapeutic effect – prescribing particular books as tonics to cure apathy, heartbreak, doubt, etc. According to a number of studies, even reading simply for pleasure has many benefits including deep relaxation, lower stress, higher self-esteem, better sleep.

Books, in short, make the world a better place – a more accepting, open-minded, and empathetic place. I recently read a blog post by a mom whose family lives in a tiny town of about 1,200 people in Nevada. The local school library hadn’t been able to purchase new books since the 90s, so she sent out an SOS asking people to donate “just one book.” In her plea she wrote, “We need racially diverse books. We need graphic novels. We need women’s studies. We need science … Everything that would make a difference in a young person’s life … Will you donate a book? … Something literary or fun—something that speaks to your truth, their truths. Something that teaches them something about the world. Makes them feel less alone?”

It is perhaps ironic that the solitary act of reading a book can make us feel less alone, but in these deeply troubled times, it may be one of our best hopes.

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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. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition – a long-form post on writing and the writing life – and/or introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Get Out!! Plus Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links

Sunlight on the surface. A snapper in the depths.

Sunlight on the surface. A snapper in the depths.

Summertime is in full swing around here. Though the longest day of the year is behind us, it feels like the season is just hitting its stride. The kids have only been out of school for a couple of weeks, so we’re still settling into the new routine (or, should I say, “un-routine?”) of structureless mornings, spur-of-the-moment events and outings, and late nights. While our friends on the other side of the world are preparing for winter, here the beach is calling, making it harder and harder to consistently keep my butt in the chair.

It’s an annual challenge to reconcile my daughter’s sense of summer freedom with my reality of summertime work. These are the months when my ability to focus is repeatedly put to the test. I do my best to be responsible, but sometimes the right thing to do is to forget the focus and just get outside.

Take yesterday morning. Though I had a half a day’s worth of work to do (and would usually have tried to get it done earlier rather than later), I abandoned my desk and instead enjoyed a leisurely and mostly aimless morning with my daughter. We walked to the local coffee shop where we read and wrote while sipping our respective drinks – a cinnamon chai for me and a raspberry fizz soda for her. We watched from our window table as a mom in an oversize SUV mangled her parallel parking job, and then we cooed over the two small dogs the woman and her daughter left in the car – a Maltipoo and a small King Charles Spaniel. When mom and daughter passed by on their way out, we asked if we could meet their dogs and wound up having a lovely conversation and learning all about the personalities of the two pooches.

Leaving the coffee shop, we headed toward the local farmers’ market, but wound up spending nearly a half hour on the bridge that spans the river near an in-town dam. Initially, we paused to look for turtles sunning themselves on the rocks below; but our stay was prolonged when we ran into a couple we know and got to talking about her new job and what we were all doing for the fourth and so on. Together, the four of us scanned the shallows, pointing out painted turtles, snappers, and schools of tiny fish. After they left, we lingered, and struck up a conversation with a couple of guys who had spotted a massive snapping turtle on the other side of the bridge. We all watched, fascinated, as this prehistoric-looking beast chased a smaller one of its kind through a maze of algae-covered rocks in an amphibian version of a high-speed car chase.

At the farmers’ market, we ran into more people we knew and engaged in that most delightful of pastimes – friendly small talk. We patted dogs and returned kicked balls to small children. My daughter got a henna tattoo of a crow in a tree. I bought a couple butterfly-friendly plants for the yard. A friend promised to bring some cuttings from her garden. We listened to some local folk musicians and relaxed in the shade.

My point is this – even writers need a break, and the ironic thing is that often when you give yourself a break, you wind up getting inspired. This morning’s walk, for instance, wasn’t just a lovely outing and a chance to spend time with my daughter, it also provided me with a great topic for the column I have to write later this afternoon. Sometimes, there’s a lot to be said for getting away from your desk and out into the world. No artist creates in a vacuum. It’s vital to get out and experience things and talk to people – to be a participant as well as an observer.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there!

_jamie sig


What I’m Reading:

Art copyright © 2016 by Keith Negley

Art copyright © 2016 by Keith Negley

I’ve been so busy, I’ve had little time for pleasure reading. I manage to sneak a little in with bedtime stories and audio books; but it’s never enough. I’d dearly love to curl up for an entire afternoon of uninterrupted reading. Such afternoons seemed so easy to come by when I was a kid, but now they seem almost mythical – a figment of my overactive imagination. How is it that I now have so little time to spare?

Once again, short stories come to the rescue. Since it can be frustrating to have to consume the novels I’m reading in such tiny nibbles, I often mix it up with a short story to fill in the gaps and deliver a small sense of having finished something. This week, I read Monica Byrne’s story “Traumphysik” on Tor.com.  I recently became one of Monica Byrne’s Patreon supporters (a story I’ll share in more detail on another day), and learned about this story in one of her supporter emails. Byrne’s challenging and fascinating novel, The Girl In The Road, intrigued me, as did her recent TED talk, which was more a performance than a presentation.

“Traumphysik” was, as are many short stories, a tale that left me with more questions than answers. I used to detest short stories for this reason, but the older I get, the easier it becomes to hold ambiguity without flinching. I love the way this story loosely weaves together the ideas of lucid dreaming, solitude, and alternate realities.

··• )o( •··

My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:

CRAFT

PUBLISHING & MARKETING

INSPIRATION

THE WRITING LIFE

Sundry Links and Articles:

audible encyclopedia

Earlier this year, Audible released an  April Fool’s recording of professional narrators reading the encyclopedia.  I’m not sure how I missed it until now, but I am glad that I found it and took the time to listen. As an avid fan of audio books, I have a great respect for the skills of these voice actors. This particular showcase of their talents was both funny and also a little awe-inspiring because of the way their individual styles put completely unique spins on simple encyclopedia entries. Hysterical. The piece also includes some behind-the-scenes Q&A that’s pretty interesting.

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin living an art

Here’s to getting out into the world to collect our stories. 
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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 FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
.

Shareworthy Reading and Writing Links Apr 3

Never a Dull Moment

Up through the discarded amber and rust of last year's autumn, a firework of cerulean blue and sunlight yellow bursts into being.

Up through the discarded amber and rust of last year’s autumn, a firework of cerulean blue and sunlight yellow bursts into being.

Last week, Mother Nature was whispering spring secrets, sending delicate blossoms up through the last fall’s detritus, injecting flashes of color into the otherwise drab landscape. This morning, she has covered us in a blanket of wet snow, and the meteorologists are advising everyone to batten down the hatches in anticipation of some wild winds due later this afternoon. There’s nothing so mercurial as spring weather in New England.

Like our weather, the writing life is full of unexpected twists and turns. We must be flexible in our expectations and agile in our execution. We must be prepared for anything and willing to keep on writing in any circumstance or condition. In snow, sleet, and hail – in good times and bad – we must keep putting the words down – one after another. As I wrote yesterday, we can’t let anything hold us back.

No matter how bizarre the weather or how challenging our writing tasks, we can take comfort in the knowledge that Mother Nature and The Muse both work in cycles. Neither of them stays the same for long. As they say here in New England, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” And so it is with our creative energies and inspirations. If you’re not feeling the spark, just wait five minutes. Keep putting down the words and things will shift. They always do.

_jamie sig


 What I’m Reading Watching (Don’t Worry – No Spoilers):

star wars force awakens

Though I grew up with the first trilogy of Star Wars movies, I was never a rabid fan. I didn’t have a single Star Wars action figure or ever dress as Princess Leia (slave or otherwise) for Halloween. I liked the story and was fascinated by the special effects, but the galaxy far, far away did not capture my imagination nearly as much as the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Anne McCaffrey. But last night, my beau talked me into watching the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, and I was blown away.

In case you haven’t seen it, I won’t give anything away, but the movie does a near seamless job of connecting the characters and storyline from the original films to this new cast and narrative, set thirty years after the fall of the Galactic Empire. As someone who was a kid when those first films hit the theaters, I was delighted with the many nods and homages included in this seventh installment of George Lucas’ opus. It never felt like schtick or sentimental crap. It was warm and funny and respectful. It was heartfelt. I was drawn in and on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

As soon as the movie was over, we watched the two-hour documentary on the making of the film. The scope and scale of the undertaking is amazing to see – all the designers, artists, and craftspeople, all the sets, special effects, and costumes. It’s an astounding feat of creativity, skill, collaboration, and organization. But, what impressed me most (and what ultimately made the movie work) was the entire team’s focus on the authenticity of the story.

Although writer/director J.J. Abrams used all kinds of cutting-edge technology, many of the production methods were actually very old school. They filmed on celluloid, not digital. They used puppetry and meticulous motion-capture techniques instead of straight CGI for key characters. They built things with real-world materials instead of pixels. They brought the Star Wars galaxy to life in as authentic a way as possible because they knew how important it was for the world to “feel” real. They realized the huge responsibility they had to this story. As many of the people involved said, they felt that Star Wars had to feel like something that had really happened in history, because – in a way – it had. It was a shared experience that has become part of our culture, part of who we are.

Great stories are like that. Whether they live on the pages of a book, up on the silver screen, or (in many cases) both, great stories are bigger than any one person. Great stories help us tap into a kind of universal yearning – a sort of infallible truth.  They put us in touch with something that makes us feel more connected to everyone and everything else.

My favorite scene in the documentary was one that captured a few minutes of the first full read-through of the script. The writers, actors, and production crew sit on chairs and couches in the middle of an enormous sound stage. There are no sets or costumes, just the people and the story. And as Mark Hamill begins to read the narration, you could almost feel the magic coming off the page. I love that something as big and spectacular as a movie like The Force Awakens starts with something as comparatively modest and simple as a great story. The story is the heart of the whole thing, and the power of story can move mountains and touch the lives of millions of people around the world. Pretty damn amazing.

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My Favorite Blog Reads for the Week:

CRAFT

PUBLISHING & MARKETING

INSPIRATION

THE WRITING LIFE

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Sundry Links and Articles:

Four years ago, inspired by a hysterical (and not at all appropriate for work) viral video, I wrote a post called Blog Like a Honey Badger. Earlier this week, I came across another video, this one produced by the BBC, about an astonishingly clever and persistent honey badger who simply refuses to stay in his enclosure at a wildlife facility. As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about overcoming the obstacles that hold you back from your writing, I thought this latest video might offer a little additional inspiration and – if not that – at least make you smile. Honey badgers just don’t take no for an anwer!

Finally, a quote for the week:

Via 30somethingdq.tumblr.com

Via 30somethingdq.tumblr.com

I hope you weather whatever storms may be in your life at the moment and never, ever stop writing. Have a great rest of the weekend, and I’ll see you next week!
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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.
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