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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Staying in Shape

Nicole talked about writing in the face of tragedy.
Jen talked about writing in spite of everyday hurdles.
But what about when life knocks you on your butt?

There I was, a completed first draft, half the edits already accomplished, requests from two agents . . . and my husband was laid off from his job. Suddenly fiction was the furthest thing from my mind.

What do you do?

You keep writing. If you can't write fiction, journal. Every word on the page helps keep your writing muscle in shape. Every word is an act of hope that you will return to your stories.

Think of it like being an athlete. When a player gets an injury he does whatever he can to stay in shape. He does not become a couch potato. When Derek Lee of the Chicago Cubs broke his wrist, he concentrated on lower body workouts. As soon as the cast came off he started--carefully--working on his upper body, throwing, catching, preparing himself to rejoin the game.

When life temporarily takes you out of the game, don't let your writing muscle get flabby. Do what you can to keep it in shape. Journal. Freewrite. Do a writing exercise using a prompt. Every single word on the page keeps you in shape for when you can return to the game of fiction.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Everyday Hurdles

Nicole did a great job yesterday writing about overcoming the big stuff, facing the page, and choosing hope. In everyone's life, from a national scale to a family scale, there will be unexpected, heart-wrenching, seemingly insurmountable events to overcome. And in everyone's life, there will be the same old day-to-day to overcome.

Nicole thinks globally; I'm the local same old same old girl.

My life is not unlike the life of the woman sitting in the next office.
Both of us rise in the morning, feed and walk the dogs, wake the kids, pack their lunches, give them the ninety-second lecture on resisting peer pressure and maybe, just maybe -- if the gods of the red lights are with us -- stop at 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee before we get to the office. (Well, I'll stop at the 7-Eleven. My office neighbor keeps kosher; I'm not sure 7-Eleven is on her hit parade.) We spend the next eight, nine, ten hours focused on our jobs, and then we do the morning in reverse: stop at the market to pick up dinner, pick up the kids from football practice or the babysitter's, feed and walk the dogs, make the dinner....

Any of this look familiar to you? Maybe it feels familiar -- the burned out, brain dead, no strength to laugh at the end of the day feeling? BE honest. Sometimes an average day will suck the life out of you.

So here’s my survival mechanism, the thing the woman in the next office doesn’t do: at some point during the day -- be it a stolen moment at lunch or be it waking up an hour (or two) early -- at some point, I face the page. (And sometimes I have to play Aerosmith really loud but that’s just a bonus quirk.)

To sit and write is easily one of the most selfish endeavors I engage in. But I can’t stomach the thought of giving it up. The joy, the exhilaration, the sheer FUN of writing is MINE, mine to savor and cherish and revel in. I’m greedy for the sense of accomplishment I get from simply putting words on the page every day. They don’t have to be plentiful, they don’t have to be gems, but they have to be there. If they’re not there, I’m not a writer.

So in the midst of all the day to day, same old same old, I make the time to do myself the kindness of facing the page and keeping “I am a writer” a true statement.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Welcome to Face the Page: Choosing Hope

Six years ago, we faced a national crisis. But many of us faced a personal crisis as well. In the face of such tragedy, such monumental sorrow, how could we move on? How could we continue our pursuit of happiness, when so many others’ had been cut off?

Our society often tells us that the pursuit of art is self-indulgent. But a friend of mine once told me that art is the soul of the world, and artists are the protectors of that soul. I thought about his words often after 9/11. I think the soul of our world is bruised and battered and that our work is more important than ever.

I was four blocks away when that first tower fell and I’ve avoided every anniversary. The anniversaries remind me that I’m not safe. But this morning I woke up determined not to avoid this day. I woke up thinking that it would be better, braver and more productive to choose hope. So today I am choosing hope instead of fear.

Facing the page is about choosing hope. It’s about saying, “I’m a writer, and yeah it’s hard, and yeah it’s a struggle, and yeah I might not sell a book this year, but I’m still going to sit down and write something today.” Every sentence we write is an act of bravery. Every page we pen is a victory. Every day we face the page instead of avoiding it is a day that we are choosing hope instead of fear.

So my wish for you, today and all days, is to choose hope. I don’t think the fear ever goes away, but hope is always more powerful. Hope will put words on a page; fear won’t. Choose Hope. Face the Page.

Friday, September 07, 2007


It's overcast and muggy, but I get out of work in an hour and a half, there's leftover ice cream cake in the break-room fridge and tomorrow is Saturday. What could be bad?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

interesting quote

"I'll match my flops with anybody's, but I wouldn't have missed 'em. Flops are a part of life's menu and I've never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses."
~Rosalind Russell

Saturday, September 01, 2007