The Art of (Not) Writing

How do you not write is the question?  Or rather, how do you step back enough to recharge and refocus in order TO write?  It can become an addictive habit, this writing thing.  Write  for 20 minutes straight, write every morning for an hour, publish a post every day, write, write, write.

But, as James Kirk said, “Too much of anything, Lieutenant, even love, isn’t necessarily a good thing.”  In the same way, even if writing as a career, too much writing can lead to a very unbalanced life.

The past 2 years of my life have been a journey about finding balance in all things:  food, faith, family, friends.  I have come a long way, but I’m certainly not home yet.  This summer has shown me that.  I became part of a small group of women studying The Daniel Plan, and have seen that I still don’t have it all together.  I have been learning about how Faith, Food, Focus, Friends and Fitness all play a part in keeping us healthy, strong and vital.

Focus seems to be my biggest challenge – I tend to get stuck on doing one thing, and it quickly becomes a habit.  You’re probably wondering by now how this all relates to writing, but wait for it!  I chose to take both Blogging 201 and Writing 101 this month.  I should have learned from Blogging 101!  What do you mean, you ask?

Just that, it was so much fun, that I blogged and read blogs to excess!  I was reading blogs, thinking about blog posts, writing blog posts, talking about blog posts!  Yikes.  So, now, taking 2 courses at the same time – my eyes actually were hurting by last week.  I had to stop, not read your lovely articles, not respond to your requests.  I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t see straight!  So, I took the weekend off, read a real book, knit some more, spent time with hubby. No blogging, no reading blogs.

So my advice to all it – TAKE A BREAK!  Now, I plan to follow my own advice, leave the computer, and go watch TV with hubby (unless he still has The Outer Limits on.  In which case, I’m going to play solitaire!)


The Coffee Klatch

If we were having coffee right now, I would have to ask you why you retired at 26. I mean, watching you on the court was a thing of beauty.

If we were having coffee right now, I would want to know how you remained so calm – after all, there was some serious nonsense happening all around you sometimes, thanks to Johnny Mac and Ilie!

If we were having coffee right now, I would ask you about life in Sweden – What is it like there?  Is it as cold as they say?  What are your summers like?  How do you manage the winters?

If we were having coffee right now, I would ask you if you still maintain friendships with your on-court rivals, and which ones.

If we were having coffee right now, I would simply have to know… would you ever consider playing a tennis match in my area, so that I could finally see you play in person, Björn Borg? Pretty please?

Dear Miss Austen

Writing with Ink,

Writing with Ink,

My dear Miss Austen,

I pray you will forgive any familiarity in addressing you thusly, but I feel as though I know you, although ‘as through a glass darkly.’  You see, I am a devout fan of your writing that I presume to write to tell you just how ardently I admire you.  Yes, I understand you sought to remain unknown for your world considers it most unseemly for a mere woman to write – simply scandalous!  But I wish to assure you that your writing has had more influence that these small minds could ever conceived!

On my part, dear Miss Austen, I have learned about the dangers in judging either by one’s own prejudices or by another’s appearance.  Oftimes, I have learned the lesson in looking backwards, but learned it I have.  You have also taught me of the value of kindness and loyalty; of the difficulty of adhering to a moral standard when the world around you scorns such standards; of the importance of friendship, oh, and so many more lessons that I find myself unable to fully express them all!

May I also say that your words have shown those of us living in a less gracious time a glimpse into how to act with more civility and courtesy (even while your rather pointed barbs at conceit leave us with sides aching with laughter!)  I believe that one reason that we are still so devoted to reading and talking about your writing is that we long to experience some of this same civility in our own interactions.

In closing, I just want to thank you once more for your wonderful words and characters, Miss Austen!  Rest assured your novels will continue to be read as long as there are people of good sense and good taste.

Most sincerely,

Your devoted reader

Jane and Friends

A discussion began during Blogging 101 last month between Sarah Hemsley and myself about, naturally, Jane Austen.  In one of her comments, Sarah asked me Do you have a favourite Austen novel? That was actually a difficult question to answer.

My go-to read when I need a ‘dose of Jane’ (to quote D. E. Stevenson in one of her Mrs. Tim books) is Pride and Prejudice.  However, I sometimes head over to visit with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth, and there are occasions when only the much under-valued Fanny Price will do. You see, all these characters become friends over the course of time.  The ever-so-sensible Mr. Knightley would be a wonderful person to seek out if one were in need of advice. Do you need a good laugh?  Then try a quarter of an hour in Mr. Collins’ company (I cannot recommend anymore, lest you begin to worry about your sanity.)  Do you need a gentle and loyal friend?  Then most definitely it’s Anne Elliot for you!

In any case, I am going to also start rereading Emma in anticipation of Sarah’s online celebration of the 200th anniversary of it’s publication.  I encourage you to join the discussion when it begins in December.

The places I’ve been to

image from Open book | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

image from Open book | Flickr – Photo Sharing!

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul –
by Emily Dickinson
To paraphrase the John Denver song, “the places I’ve been to, the stories books tell.”  I’ve been to India, Morocco, Egypt; to Polynesia, Hawaii, Alaska.  I’ve seen the rice paddies of China, the red stones of Petra, the falls at Iguazu. I’ve sailed before the wind on a man-of-war, orbited Vulcan, cycled the lanes of Holland and trekked with Lewis and Clark!
Oh, how did I manage all that, you ask?  It’s easy and cheap – I read a book.  From The Far Pavilions to Spock’s World, I’ve done it all.  Authors open new worlds to their readers, new and exciting places to explore!  How else would we get to experience the beauty of Narnia, or stark landscape of alien worlds without books?
Have you ever gotten so lost in a book that you forgot to put it down?  I have.  Have you ever decided, ‘I’ll read one chapter.’ and your next thought is, ‘Oh, wow, I finished the whole book!”  I would love to hear your experiences in reading:  what moves you, what are your favorite places to ‘visit,’ which characters’ company do you seek out time and again?
“Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are” is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.”
François Mauriac