ReadRightNow: August 19, 2013

This week’s ReadRightNow is about quality, not quantity. Which is really my roundabout way of saying that I only have two articles to share.

As of last week, I have been working in a concentrated manner on my novel for one year. It first showed up in my journals on August 14 of last year, and a year later, I sat down to take stock, to have a reckoning with my writing. I examined where I am, how far I’ve come. I tried to distill the things I’ve learned. I compared the difficulty of writing a book to writing a MFA thesis. And I examined who I am, one year later, after time with these characters, this subject matter, this crazy life happening alongside a book being born.

That examination is another post for another day, but I can tell you that these two articles I’ll share with you helped me in big ways. One speaks more specifically to writers, though the tone and approach could easily translate to any great challenge you are facing. And one speaks more to being human, to forgiveness and acceptance and pushing on.

ReadRightNow:  August 19, 2013

  • Writing a book is hard. That’s what I wrote to my writing buddy for about the fourteenth time this week. Writing a book is hard, and learning how to write a book while writing a book is doubly hard. It’s easy to look at the mountainous task and decide it’s too big. This week, as I was looking back, I felt like I had finally climbed to the top of a mountain, but instead of going on, instead of keeping on climbing, moving on to the next mountain, I sat down. I refused to move. I react similarly when I’m stuck on a hike that I don’t want to be on, or when my blood sugar drops and I can’t make food decisions; I sit down and wait for someone to figure it out for me. But the thing with a book is that no one else will figure it out for me. I have to stand up and keep going. And this post by Delilah S. Dawson on the 25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author reminded me of it. It’s a kick in the butt, and it’s a good laugh, and it’s a provocative map of the trail ahead of me.
  • I’m about a year late to the party, but I’m currently reading Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, for a book club I’m in. I first encountered Cheryl Strayed as an anonymous advice columnist called Dear Sugar – we didn’t know Sugar was Cheryl Strayed until years in, until we had fallen in love with her and her advice and her love and gentleness and no-nonsense clarity. As I’m reading Cheryl Strayed’s book, I’m taken back to her column, in particular to this post, where she is asked what advice she would give to her 20 year-old self. It’s called Tiny, Beautiful Things, and this post is, in itself, a tiny, beautiful thing, a reminder of acceptance and forgiveness and love and writing and living. When I am feeling low, when I’m being super harsh with myself or feeling like a failure or a bad wife or a rotten friend or an even more rotten human being, I read this, and I take it to heart. I get thankful, and I practice patience (which I need a lot of practice at).

And so, one year later, one year into the world of The Ladies of my book, I can distill these articles into one mantra:  keep going. And find the voices to take with you who will keep you going.

4 thoughts on “ReadRightNow: August 19, 2013

  1. I am so excited to read both of these articles (after just now skimming my eyes over them), that I am now making tea in preparation for some serious relaxing/reading.

    Also, writing IS hard. Crazy hard. Soul sucking hard. My sister is a children’s book editor for a publishing house – and award winning author herself. We often talk about the struggle – especially now, as we both have projects on the go. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said/whined, “but… it’s just SO HARD. I don’t wanna do it no more. Wait. Yes, I do. Will you write it FOR ME? Pleeeeeeease? Writing sucks. I hate it. WHY is writing SO hard?”

    Hard. Really hard.

    1. Yay! Tea + reading = fun.

      Writing = hard. So true. I find solidarity helps – someone you can complain about it with. It is just so big. But I’m excited about your project – I can’t wait to see the outcome of all that hard, hard work. 🙂

  2. i am also waiting for some nice alone/quiet time (read: not at 6 am and not ahead of a busy day) to sit down with both of these articles, as i know i’ll enjoy them. and now i’m excited about both yours and rachael’s projects.
    writing is hard. it’s the hardest thing sometimes, but only when you really care about it, i think.

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