Hey, writers. Need a laugh?

So, if you happen to have caught any of my recent posts, you already know that the election has thrown me for a bit of a loop. I’ve been coping with the unexpected and violent shift in my perspective by exploring how to successfully write about issues in fiction, reading comforting words from other writers (here and here), learning how to use my civic voice, and looking for the silver lining.

But, sometimes, the best medicine is laughter.

If you need the sweet release of some plain, old-fashioned, silly fun, I highly recommend you listen to the November 29th bonus episode of the fabulous Writing Excuses podcast.  The podcast’s topic is fantasy food, but – while I did find the subject fascinating (and full of world- and character-building potential) – what I loved most about this particular episode was the uncontrollable laughter and full-on, spontaneous hilarity that seemed intent on derailing the discussion at every turn.

Please, do yourself a favor and check it out:

writing-excuses-masthead

11.Bonus-04: Fantasy Food, with Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch

Elizabeth Bear  and Scott Lynch joined Howard and Dan at GenCon Indy to talk about fantasy food, and how we engage our readers’ appetites with our fiction. We talk economics, logistics, sensory engagement, and we goof off quite a bit in the process. We might have been hungry at the time. There is good fun to be had here, and plenty of (pun intended) food for thought.

 

And, if you don’t already, I highly recommend listening to the Writing Excuses crew on a regular basis. I have learned SO much from these authors. Not all episodes are as rowdy as this one, but I always feel like I’m hanging out with a group of warm and inviting writer friends when I tune in. I love them so much that I’m a supporter of their Patreon.

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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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The Delights of Summer Irresponsibility

IG sunny flowersIn honor of the solstice and full moon coinciding yesterday to welcome summer – a once-in-lifetime event, by the way – I’d like to share something a little different. This is a piece that I wrote a year ago about the way summer entices us to shirk our duties and indulge in being deliciously irresponsible. I needed to remind myself that it isn’t a crime to surrender to summer’s sultry wiles. In fact, it’s something of a virtue. I’ve been putting in some extra hours lately, trying both to catch up and to get ahead; but while my inner writer wants to be super productive and diligent, I have to remember that all work and no play make Jill bitter and angry (not to mention exhausted). And when Jill is bitter and angry (and exhausted), her creativity suffers.

So, time to think about getting out from underneath the weight of the world. Even writers need to goof off once in a while.

··• )o( •··

Irresponsible

“How’ve you been?” someone asks.

My default answer is almost always the same, “Busy, busy but good.” It’s a knee-jerk response that pops out of my mouth before I’ve even had the chance to properly process the question.

I’m usually sorry the minute I’ve said it. It’s an impersonal and somewhat self-important reply that doesn’t really mean anything.

“Busy” has become a sort of modern virtue. If we are not running late for something, we feel inadequate. If we are not multi-tasking, we feel incompetent. If we are not buckling under the weight of a massive To Do list, we feel deficient.

We sit, each of us, at the center of our own personal universe of responsibilities and obligations. With a magnetic pull worthy of mighty Jupiter, we draw an endless procession of cares and concerns into orbit around our already-spinning heads, enough to keep us running in circles forever and then some.

We commiserate with each other over the undeniable demands on our time, lamenting our inability to extricate ourselves for more than a moment.

Even our children are too busy. With the best of intentions, we rush them from here to there and back again. We enrich their lives with all manner of events and activities, cramming each minute of each day full to bursting. I cringe thinking of how many times I utter the words, “Hurry up!” in the course of any twenty-four hour period.

But just in time to rescue us from ourselves, here comes summer – the season of playing hooky and letting things slide, of long lunches and impromptu evening get togethers that stretch out across the hours while the kids run amuck in the dark, hoping the grownups won’t notice the lateness of the hour.

Summer gives us permission to loosen our grip. It makes it easier to believe that we are not, in fact, responsible for holding the world together through sheer force of will. We regain our perspective, and most of our sanity. We are suddenly open to opportunities for play that until recently seemed too ill-conceived to even consider.

In the summer, almost anything seems possible.

As we slow down and come to our senses, time moves at a more leisurely pace, creating the illusion of longer days and nights. Our minds embrace a new kind of logic that makes it easy to justify choices that favor ease and indulgence over duty. We abandon the vacuum cleaner for a swim in the creek, accept being late to work so that we can enjoy an impromptu coffee with a friend, and find every excuse imaginable to knock off early so that we might savor just a little bit more of summer’s plenty.

The warmth and light, intensified by our increased proximity to the sun, seem to affect an involuntary shift from our usual pragmatic and responsible Yankee outlook to something more suited to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, or perhaps the south of France.

We relax. We let go of expectations. We rediscover the joy and contentment that can be found in simple pleasures like unplanned meetings that blossom into afternoon adventures, the smoky taste of food cooked over an open fire, the gritty warmth of sand between the toes, and the magic of fireflies in the field.

Yes, here comes summer, our chance to be delightfully irresponsible. Our chance to give up being so busy all the time, and just surrender rebelliously to the spontaneous impulses of the season. In these sun-dappled days, we can recapture, for a moment, what it felt like to be a kid without a care in the world. I can hardly wait.

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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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Short and Sweet Advice for Writers – Write Like a Puppy

Writing is serious business. Doing it well requires study, commitment, and dedication. There is a lot to learn – form, structure, style, voice – more craft nuances than I can name. “Real” writers sacrifice for their art. As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

BUT …

Sometimes, you just gotta play.

I mean, you don’t want to be this guy, do you?

Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo

I didn’t think so.

Writing may be hard work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. The trick is learning to approach it with a different mindset. Instead of coming to your writing with the weight of the world on your shoulders, try thinking about your time at the keyboard as a play session.

Going for it

Going for it

Which brings me to puppies.

Puppies know how to play. They can make a game out of almost anything, and they let loose with wild abandon. They aren’t concerned about following rules or worried about looking silly. They aren’t playing with purpose or comparing their play to another puppy’s. They are simply having fun – being joyful in the moment, exploring, and experimenting.

To a puppy, nothing is sacred. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to play. There is just play. Water = play. Ball = play. Stick = play. Slipper = play. Tail = play. It’s all just one big, happy game – a frolic, a romp, an excuse to roll around on the ground with your paws in the air.

What would happen if you “played” with your writing? 

There is power in unleashing your enthusiasm, so go ahead and loosen up. Follow the example of my friend Shanna’s adorable rescue puppy, Milo, and just let ‘er rip.
https://instagram.com/p/5SmcqhMmXI/?taken-by=shannatrenholm

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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. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Puppy Splashing Photo Credit: cobalt123 via Compfight cc

Imagination plus life experience creates story

Imagination comes in handy for writing fiction. For instance, I ‘remember’ seeing a mini octopus in the stream around the corner from my house during my childhood.

It was real, Mom. Sure it was, honey. I’ll prove it!

I grabbed my Polaroid camera and went back to the stream. No octopus.  Maybe tomorrow. After several days and never seeing the creature again, I gave up. Okay, so maybe it was my imagination. Then again, maybe the octopus was shy and hiding behind one of the small rocks. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

I loved my imagination then, and I still love it now.

In writing non-fiction about places to visit, people to know, or things to do in NH, I rely on my past real experiences.

But what I love most is combining imagination and life experience.

For instance, in the image below is a large tree that I see when I walk up my road.

large pine tree with a swoop at the bottom

Let's dance, Tree.

It probably isn’t big news that there are trees in New Hampshire, right? There are a lot of pine trees, in particular, too. So it’s hard to think any one tree would stand out.

But the moment I saw this, I thought “dance”. I see a swirl starting with a pine bough in the center of this portion of the tree that angles down to the right. (The green seems longer on the right side.) And the non-needled branches add to the swirling sensation. (And the brown branches seem shorter than the green.)

This tree makes me think about a dress swooping around as a woman twirls around her partner. It may even be a poodle skirt with petticoat in the midst of a twirl. Can you see it?

If you’re familiar with Hip Hop Abs, there’s a dance move called the “throw down.” It’s where two arms cross in front with fisted hands toward the floor and the back leg extends in the same direction. There’s a ‘swish’ as the arms come across the body and down.

Thanks to my imagination and ‘hip hop’ dance experience, this tree has become more than just another pine tree in the state. How could I not write about this tree?

I’m ready to dance, are you?

Have you noticed when your reality and imagination collide in your writing?

Lisa Jackson is an independent editor, writer, journalist, and chocolate lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. © Lisa J. Jackson, 2011