Writer’s Weekend Edition – This Is Who I Am

Writers live and work at the intersection of life and ideas. Whether we write fiction or non-fiction, poetry or op eds, our life experiences and the words we share are connected. Sometimes, the connection is obvious. Sometimes, it’s more subtle. But, it’s always there – a thread or a “through line” that stitches life and work together into a whole.

I was reminded of this truth the other day when I came across Elle Luna’s 2014 Medium post, The Crossroads of Should and Must. In this piece (which eventually became a book), Luna uses Picasso as an example of someone who embodies this blended approach to being:

“Picasso’s life blended seamlessly with his work. It was all one huge swirling mix of bullfights and beaches and booze. And we could tell. Because to look at one of Picasso’s canvases is quite literally to look into his soul. And this is exactly what happens when our life, our essence, is one and the same with our work. It’s when job descriptions and titles no longer make sense because we don’t go to work— we are the work.”

She even offers a visual to illustrate the idea:

Credit: Elle Luna

Credit: Elle Luna

This concept of the artist (or writer) being the work has been on my mind more and more since I stumbled across Luna’s post, and it’s helping me to understand the transition I’m going through in my own work.

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I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact that I was deeply affected by the outcome of last year’s U.S. election. I might even go so far as to say that I have been transformed in some ways, both as a person and as a writer.

This transformation is taxing, and is at least partly to blame for my being absent from these weekend posts for the past three weeks. I have had an unexpectedly heavy work load for January; but more than that, I have been at a loss for words. I have been unsure of what I want to or should say. I have been questioning my purpose and my role here on the blog and as a writer in general. I have been reassessing my priorities.

Before I came to my desk to write this post, I took a moment to look back at some of the pieces I’ve published since the election. I wanted to see if they held any clues about my trajectory. In running through the post titles, I saw that I have been careening all over the place in terms of “who I am” as a writer.

My first batch of posts following November 9th included a craft piece on how to write effectively about issues, a quick rant about why art matters, a more direct post about discovering my civic voice, and a hopeful ramble about finding the silver lining when you’re lost in the dark. In all these pieces, I was reacting (without much editing) to what I was experiencing in my life as I witnessed the world changing. I was trying to make sense of what was happening.

And then, I turned inward. I tried to bring myself back to a place where I could write pieces that were a little more uplifting and in the style of what I have written here in the past. I wrote a short piece offering reassurance that we’re all still ourselves. I wrote about illuminating the beautiful, and I wrote about grounding and connecting.

After that, I hit a bit of a wall. I didn’t have the energy to write anything of substance. I felt so overwhelmed and so confused by the avalanche of information that I was trying to take in. (There is so much to learn!) Though I was feeling so much and had so many thoughts and questions, I was not in a place where I could articulate them even to myself, never mind manage to put them down in words. So, for two weeks I posted pieces that made almost no mention of all the Big Ideas swirling around in my head. Instead of tackling the hard stuff, I wrote about  getting back in gear after the holidays and put together a  summary of your favorite top five weekend edition posts from 2016. I treated my writing here as an assignment to publish “something to do with writing” rather than a place to share my innermost thoughts with fellow writers.

Finally, I went silent for three weeks. I just didn’t know what to say.

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I almost talked myself out of writing today. I almost let myself off the hook. But in the end I realized that – even if I didn’t feel ready … maybe especially if I didn’t feel ready – I needed to get myself back into the habit of doing it anyway.

I share these personal details not because I think anyone should care about the minutiae of my writing struggles (they shouldn’t), but in case I’m not the only one going through these stages of “evolution.” Crises (whether in Real Life or fiction) are necessary. They are the catalyst that moves a story forward, the thing that enables growth and change. Crises bring clarity by stripping away the superficial and leaving us with only the most critical elements of who we are. They help us define ourselves by revealing where our loyalties lie. They help us identify our true purpose by clearly demonstrating which beliefs matter to us most.

In the best scenarios, crises help us to grow by taking our attention off ourselves and expanding our perspective to include others. Caring about and understanding the world beyond our own doorstep is important for any human  being, but it’s absolutely essential for a writer. It’s our job as storytellers to do the hard work of stepping outside our own skins so that we can, through our writing, help others experience that same journey, see a story (and the world) from different perspectives, and learn to discover their own truth.

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My identity as a writer is not yet fully baked. I’m still finding my way to more solid ground. But, I’m choosing to (as much as possible) find a way to create the blending of life and art that Luna talked about in her essay and her book.  Even while I’m on the journey to that place where I am “being” more than “doing” the work, I need to own my life experience and how that experience influences my writing. My life experience should be an asset to my work, not a hinderance. I don’t want to have to hide or downplay my beliefs or my personal feelings. I want to have the freedom to be myself. All the time – in my life and in my work.

This is who I am.

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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.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Top 5 Writer’s Weekend Edition Posts of 2016

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m having a little trouble getting back in gear after the holidays. It’s the start of a shiny New Year, but I’m not quite all the way into the swing of it yet. Though part of my malaise may yet be due to holiday hangover, I think I must admit at this point – nearly two weeks into 2017 – that it’s also partly due to my continuing struggle to process and deal with all the crazy things happening in the news … in my country. The results of last year’s election have awakened my inner activist, and I find that I am frequently distracted by the latest developments on the political scene. (Those are words I never thought I’d write.)

That said, I am a writer, and I must write. So, while it may take me some time to adjust to being consistently productive in this new environment, that is what I will do.

For today, however, I would like to share the top five Writer’s Weekend Edition posts from last year. I’ve selected them based on the number of comments they received, because I figure if someone likes something enough to take the time to comment, that is the truest measurement of how much that piece of writing has done its job.

Looking forward to another great year of sharing my random (and not-so-random) thoughts with you, and hopefully once again having the privilege of engaging in dialog with you about those ramblings.

_jamie sig

 

 


Number 5: Stillness, Solitude, and the Practice of Writing

Retreat HesseWriting is a solitary act, but being a writer is not.  We live in the Real World with everyone else, and our lives are just as full and noisy and chaotic as the next person’s. We have friends and family to care for and enjoy. We have day jobs (with meetings and emails and conference calls) and households to manage (via negotiation and sometimes bribery). We are subjected to the same onslaught of news, social media, and sundry other local and global communications as every other non-luddite member of this hyper-connected human race.  [Read more …]

Number 4: 3 Steps to Your Perfect Writing Life

Image from megankatenelson.com

Image from megankatenelson.com

Do you remember the first time you wrote? I don’t mean the first time you formed the letters of the alphabet or wrote your name. I mean the first time you sat down alone and wrote something all your own. Do you remember what  you wrote, why you wrote it, or what it felt like to put words – your words – down on the page? Did you have any idea then that you would keep writing – day after day, year after year?

Today marks thirty-nine years, one month, and thirteen days since I wrote my first journal entry. I was seven years-old at the time, and the words I chose for the first page of my first notebook were not my own. They were Shakespeare’s.  [Read more …]


Number 3: Why Writing Matters (How to Justify Your Passion)

free diverSometimes, the gravity of real life threatens to pull me out of my creative orbit. The inescapable responsibility of being human weighs heavily – the “Real World” of work, relationships, and surviving on this fragile planet crushing in on me like pressure on an ascending deep sea diver. The closer I get to daylight, the further I am from the intimate, interior depths of my creative endeavors. That inner life disappears into the darkness below as I’m drawn toward the surface, my tenuous connection lost until I dive again.

Above the waves, my belief in the importance of the world below fades.  Submerged in the process, my work felt real and worthwhile. [Read more …]


Number 2: A Writer’s New Year

Like the years, the days are each part of a continuum.

Like the years, the days are each part of a continuum.

The New Year is a time to reflect and plan. It’s a time to reevaluate our priorities and our progress toward our goals. Midnight on December 31st marks the seam between the old and the new; it is the boundary between the past and the future – the threshold over which we must step in order to enter the next phase of our lives.

Damn. That’s a lot of pressure.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of a fresh start. I also relish poring over the old year’s journal entries looking for thematic patterns in my thoughts and dreams. I love the creative process of finding the perfect word to embody my intentions for the year ahead, and the more arduous work of drilling down to discover exactly what those intentions might be. I love the myth and magic of the many New Year’s traditions that help us whisk away the old and ring in the new. [Read more …]


And the Number 1 Writer’s Weekend Edition Post of 2016 (based on number of comments): What’s Holding You Back from Your Writer’s Life?

Don't be scared of paper tigers.

Don’t be scared of paper tigers.

I’m in need of a writer-to-writer pep talk today, so I’ve decided to give myself one.

This isn’t going to be easy. I’m realizing, to my chagrin, that being optimistic and upbeat comes much more naturally when things are going well. Who’d have thought? Maintaining a good attitude is a bit more challenging when you’re stuck at the bottom of the proverbial well with no rope and no ladder (and a creeping suspicion that something malicious may be lurking down there with you, just waiting to jump out from the shadows and give you a nasty bite, or worse). [Read more …]


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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. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Getting Back in Gear After the Holidays

snowflake

It’s snowing today – many, many, MANY of these falling from the sky and making me feel SO cozy. Love it!

How long does it take you to get back into the swing of things after the holidays? How much time do you need to find your usual groove and get all the gears turning smoothly again? We are seven days into the New Year, and I’m only just starting to ease fully back in to my usual routines.

I was fortunate enough to be able to take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. I didn’t turn my computer on once. I spent time with my family, especially my daughter and my beau. We watched a LOT of movies (mostly chosen by  my daughter, so there were many superhero movies in the mix). On the Thursday after Christmas, I had the loveliest day, all to myself. I had a great riding lesson, wrote in my journal in the morning, read a beautiful illustrated book about faeries by Charles Vess and then a novel called A Wolf in the Attic, which was the perfect magical, gothic tale for a day of solitude in the lull between holidays. Later that night, still alone, I watched the not-so-great-but-still-lovely movie adaptation of one of my favorite books, Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale. Did I mention it was a lovely day?

I had the best intentions to use the week’s “down” time productively. I meant to do some organizing and administrative work. I was going to get a head start on some proposals and follow up on some existing leads. I was going to (finally) deal with the massive to-be-filed pile of paperwork that I had shunted into a drawer while cleaning for the holidays. But, I did none of those things, and – honestly – I should have known better than to believe for a moment that I would.

You see, I’ve known for a long time that I have two speeds: 100mph and standing still. I’m usually going at 100mph, juggling multiple client projects, personal projects, running the household, raising my daughter, and trying my damnedest to also put some effort in to taking better care of myself (journaling, yoga, meditation, etc.), while still finding time for pleasurable pursuits (mainly reading). But, when I manage to carve out some time to relax, I really relax. The first two days after Christmas were spent sprawled on the couch with my daughter, binge watching movies and series on Netflix. I already described my blissful Thursday, and the rest of the days in that week were subtle variations on those two themes. Translation: I did next to nothing. If it weren’t for my beau coaxing me out for walks in the woods, I might not have left my house at all.

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I did feel a little guilty about my complete lack of activity. Mostly, I felt guilty for not using this precious free time to do some writing. I am, after all, forever lamenting my lack of available writing time. And here I was with the better part of a week at my disposal. But, sometimes, you just need a break. Sometimes, before you can do any creative work, you need to give your mind and your muse time to unwind and unfurl.

I know it kind of sounds like an excuse, but it’s true.

You’ve probably heard the expression about “replenishing your creative well.” That’s what last week was all about for me, and it’s a valid (I’d even go so far as to say “non-negotiable”) part of the creative process.

After months of being mostly away from my morning pages and feeling uninspired when I did sit down to write, I was thrilled to feel the hum and whir of my creative machine coming to life as my pen raced across the page, scrawling lines that felt like poetry after a long period of mostly dull accounts of daily activities. It made my heart race a little to know that I still had this kind of emotion inside me, looking for a way out. I was relieved to discover that I hadn’t been sucked completely dry by the challenges of 2016.

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While I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I do tend to be more open to change in the month of January. So far, the changes I’m making are small, but that doesn’t mean they are insignificant.

For instance, earlier this week (as part of my effort to get back into the groove) I took my own advice about using Trello to organize my writing projects, and am very pleased with the results. I’ve even created a couple shared boards to use with clients and am finding them to be super helpful on the collaboration and communication front.

I also deleted a couple self-improvement apps off my phone. One was meant to encourage and track my efforts to form positive habits, and the other was a collection of games meant to improve brain elasticity and speed. In my week of enjoying the unstructured nature of down time, I realized that these apps, though designed with the best intentions, were really just creating more stress in my life and taking up time that could be better spent reading or writing or simply staring off into space and letting my mind wander. Seriously.

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The point of all this is that it’s okay to cut yourself some slack. Take a break. Ratchet things down to zero miles per hour. Do nothing. It’s a necessary part of the creative life, and if you deprive yourself of these times of rest you will feel depleted and uninspired.

You will get back into your usual groove soon enough. I promise. I can already feel myself sliding back into the familiar routine. It’s taking a little extra time, but I’m not worried about it. I’ll get there. Right now, I’m actually more focused on making sure I remember how to give myself the gift of unstructured time off so that I stay tapped into my own creative energy. The routines will always be there. I need to practice a little free falling.

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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.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Writer’s Weekend Edition – Grounding and Connecting

Michael Meade of mosaicvoices.org

Michael Meade of mosaicvoices.org

Other than a year-in-review post that I’m putting together for the 31st, this will be my final post of 2016. I can’t say I’m sorry to see this particular year come to an end, but – despite being a chronic optimist – I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to see what 2017 holds.

This year has been dramatic, to say the least, and the repercussions of recent political events here in the states and abroad will have far-reaching social, economic, and environmental consequences for years to come. They will change the stories we tell.

It’s a lot to take in.

We also suffered some especially painful losses in the world of arts and entertainment. Each year brings its own sorrows, but we lost so many amazing artists in 2016, among them David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen, and Gene Wilder.  And we lost writers, too, including Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.

It’s no wonder that most people I know are looking forward to putting 2016 in the rearview mirror.

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Despite its many challenges, 2016 has also offered us opportunities for deep learning, which translates into a chance to grow. Like many other people I know, I am currently engaged in a self-taught crash course on the mechanics of politics. For the first time in my life, I am actively engaged in monitoring and discussing the kinds of news stories I’ve always avoided and ignored because they “weren’t my thing.” I was proud of not watching the news, of keeping my distance from such matters. Now I feel the sting of shame and regret for having been so irresponsible and for the unearned privilege that allowed me to say such things without even a twinge of remorse.

As a result of this new awareness, my eyes are now much more open to the true depth and breadth of the many injustices in the world. It’s not a pretty sight, and bearing witness even in the most benign way – via news stories and videos shared on social media – has wrought irrevocable changes in my perspective and my priorities. My inner champion for justice rails against the unceasing and often unspeakable wrongs perpetrated against not only the many persecuted peoples of the world, but also against the planet herself.

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All of this makes me want to cry. The massive scope and scale of the challenges we face is crushing. The weight of the responsibility we now must bear for ourselves and our children and the natural world is almost too much. And yet, we must shoulder it and move forward.

I understand the urge to flee. Earlier this week I posted a link on Facebook about a tiny, self-sufficient Scottish island that’s for sale. I captioned the link, “In certain moments this is so, SO tempting. #runaway” … and sometimes it is tempting. But, running away is not the answer, and neither is turning away.

The change we’re going through is hard. It’s painful and scary and we have no  idea how things are going to turn out. That is, perhaps, the worst part – the deep-seated uncertainty that haunts us … the not knowing. But, we can’t allow our fear of the unknown to keep us from looking our problems in the eye. This is not the time to allow ourselves the false luxury of pretending that everything is okay or that someone else will fix these broken things.

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Now, more than ever before in my lifetime, it’s so important for everyone, but especially for writers, to be plugged in to what’s happening all around us. It’s so important for us to find our footing in this new and changing world, find the stories that need telling, and tell them. The storytellers of the world have a lot of work to do.

We – you, dear reader,  and me and all the other writers and artists out there – must ground ourselves in our creative work. We must dig deep and hold on. We must remember why we started creating in the first place and stoke the fires of that passion so that the light never, ever goes out.

Some of us will choose to create in a way that addresses the global, societal, and cultural situations of the day head on. Others will choose to take a more subtle and oblique approach. But, each in his or her way, we will speak; and each story, each piece of art will make a difference. Our work is our voice, and our voices matter.

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As the year draws to a close, the way forward may be unclear. You may, like me, be hesitating, unsure of which path you should take. Don’t worry. Find your center and move from there.

I came across an interesting quote by someone named Michael Meade:

“We live in initiatory times when each soul can feel more isolated amidst the dying breath of one world and the uncertainty that attends the forming of life’s next design. It is not the lack of time that we modern people suffer from, but a lack of connection to things timeless, mythic and eternal.”

I believe there is much wisdom in this sentiment. We do need to connect more deeply and openly to “things timeless, mythic and eternal.” And that’s what story does. That’s what writers help us do when they share their stories. That’s what you do.

So, keep writing. Keep shining your light in the dark. It does matter, even when it feels like it doesn’t. And remember – you are never, ever alone.

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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.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Writer’s Weekend Edition – Illuminate the Beautiful

On the multiple roles of The Artist …

My Instagram feed @suddenlyjamieI have made no secret of the fact that my worldview has been irreparably changed by bearing witness to the recent U.S. election and the ensuing fallout. As someone who has spent most of her life avoiding political discussions because it “wasn’t my thing,” I am now engaged in a self-guided crash course in civics so that I may speak and act responsibly and proactively in the days ahead.

That said, I am and always will be a writer – an artist – at heart. While I feel an urgent responsibility to actively engage in standing up against tyranny in all its forms, I do not want that battle to consume my every thought, or indeed, my ability to appreciate all the beauty and magic the world has to offer.

Earlier today, a friend of mine posted on Facebook inviting friends to find and share the “beauty in the madness.” Peter Beach is a designer/illustrator/photographer who, among other things, has created a startling and piercing collection of black and white photographs documenting the lives of the homeless of Miami Beach. Here is what he said in his Facebook post:

… let this image begin a new series: “Beauty in the Madness” – random observations of beauty in everyday life.

The goal: to create an awareness… acknowledgment… a conscious effort to notice, embrace and celebrate the smallest and most insignificant things that life presents each day — ultimately and most importantly, to counterbalance the daily negative onslaught we’re experiencing.

>>> feel free to extend the series – your own observations and personal interpretations of beauty throughout your daily travels – can’t wait to see them – the creative soul awaits!

This is an invitation I have accepted and would now like to extend to you.

Whether you are capturing your observations of beauty with a camera, a paintbrush, a pen, or a keyboard, I invite you to share them far and wide. Link to them in the comments. Tweet them. Instagram them. Snapchat, Facebook, and YouTube them. (Sorry for the grammatically incorrect use of nouns as verbs. My inner editor is cringing, but I’ve asked her to count to ten and move past it.) Send them in letters. Leave them on café tables. Tuck them into library books.

Seek and cherish images, words, and stories of beauty, and let your definition of beauty encompass all the world in all its astonishing mystery and diversity.

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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.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Writer’s Weekend Edition – You’re Still You

qt-knost-broken-world

Today’s post will be a short one. I really only have one thing I want to tell you:

You’re still you.

Maybe you’re feeling like the world has gone mad; or maybe it seems like it’s always been mad, but you’re only noticing now, and it’s like waking up to find out that your bad dream wasn’t a dream at all.

What’s happening isn’t normal, but you’re still you.

Maybe you’re feeling disappointed about the way 2016 turned out for your personally. Maybe you didn’t meet your goals. Maybe your heart was broken. Maybe you lost your way.

I know it hurts, but you’re still you.

Maybe you are feeling doubtful or guilty about your creative endeavors. Maybe you’re worried that they are an indulgence, or that they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Maybe you’re second guessing yourself.

I understand your fear, but you’re still you.

No matter what happens around you, no matter what people say, no matter how many setbacks you experience – You’re. Still. You. You are who you’ve always been and you’re always growing into the person you’re meant to be. What happens around you can touch you and influence you and affect your emotions, but it can’t change who you are unless you let it. All those forces exist outside of you. They aren’t really part of who you are in your heart, and  your heart is where your stories come from.

It’s okay to take time to grieve. It’s okay to give yourself space to worry and question and process all the change in your life. And, it’s okay to step back for a minute and just let it all wash over you. Just remember, always remember, that you are still you. Your stories are still your stories. Your voice is still your voice. That hasn’t changed. That will never change. And, that is your greatest strength and your most brilliant light. So, be you, be strong, and shine your light in the darkness. We need it more than ever.

xo

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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.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Writer’s Weekend Edition – Finding the Silver Lining When You’re Lost in the Dark

Every journey begins with a first step.

Every journey begins with a first step.

A writer friend I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years called me earlier this week, and I’m grateful she did. She’d picked up the phone, she said, because she could tell by my Facebook updates that she and I were experiencing a similar post-election state of mind. Like me, this woman is a freelance marcom (marketing & communications) writer, an animal lover, and a nature nut. We met a few years back while doing projects for the same agency, hit it off, and just were beginning to get to know each other a little bit better when she and her husband moved halfway across the country. We’ve kept in touch via Facebook, but haven’t really talked.

Until Wednesday.

I was on my way to pick up my daughter, so our conversation was brief; but it went a long way toward making me feel less awkward about the emotions and creative challenges I’ve been facing in recent days. I learned that I am definitely not the only one trying to feel my way through a dark and disorienting maze of guilt, confusion, fear, indecision, and all manner of other emotions that seem to be (at least on the surface) decidedly unhelpful to the creative process.

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The truth is, I have been struggling to come to the page lately. Client deliverables are taking me much longer than usual, I completely gave up on NaNoWriMo, and even crafting blog posts – one of my favorite writing activities –  is only possible with great effort. I realize, however, that my hesitation and inability to focus aren’t due to the usual culprits. Though she still has plenty to say, it isn’t entirely my inner critic who is to blame for my feeling so inept at the keyboard. My procrastination can’t be attributed to the expected demons associated with fear of failure or expectations of perfection. My distraction and anxiety are rooted in much deeper questions about my writing life. This goes beyond craft and practice into the realm of purpose and vision.

This line of thinking isn’t new for me. As I pointed out in a recent post, I’ve clearly been having a kind of “crisis of writing faith” for a while now. At first, I was disheartened and scared by the idea, but I’m starting to believe that maybe this is something I need to go through … something all writers need to go through.

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My friend pointed out that one of the silver linings to what has otherwise been a deeply divisive and disheartening election is that dark times have the potential to bring people together, and she’s right.

I am beginning to see that in addition to creating new conversations and connections, these trying times also have the potential to help artists of all kinds – writers very much included – clarify the purpose, meaning, and strength of their creative efforts. Clarity has great power to not only inspire a writer, but to motivate her and shape her work so that it creates a more lasting impression on readers. So that it makes a difference.

We know there is no story without conflict. Can it also be said that there is no writer without conflict?

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Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself thinking more than once that this moment in history feels like the “all is lost” point in the story – the moment when the protagonist’s hopes are dashed to the ground, when the possibility of success has been torn from her grasp and it seems there is no possibility of redemption.

But, while tragedies may end on that beat, I don’t think life in general is a tragedy. I believe the story goes on. And I am finding that, while it’s uncomfortable and scary, being thrust into the action of the story ultimately empowers a writer. In recent days I have been reading much more about everything that’s happening in our country and around the world than I ever have before. And I am paying attention not only to the stories, but to how those stories make me feel. I am using my experience to forge a more defined and distinct identity as a writer. Each day, I learn a little bit more about who I want to be as a writer, who I’m writing for, why I’m writing, and what kinds of stories I want to write.

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I will continue this journey, and I plan to share it with you. My dispatches will likely be messy, but I hope you will forgive that and maybe share some of your experiences, too. I don’t think there’s a playbook we can follow here, but perhaps if we share our different perspectives and insights, we can help each other along the way. If nothing else, it’s good to have company on the road.

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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.

Photo Credit: Pictures of Wales Flickr via Compfight cc

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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