Category Archives: Life Happens

Why we write at times like this

Men_reading_the_Koran_in_Umayyad_Mosque,_Damascus,_Syria
How can anyone, after watching the horrific events of this past week, this past month, this past year, think that putting imaginary worlds down on a blank page could have any meaning?

I will tell you.

It is precisely in times like this, precisely in times when all fabric of humanity seems to be unraveling, when we are struggling to make sense of actions that seem senseless, when we are determined to overcome fear and uncertainty, that we need to write.

Because it is precisely at these times that we need to read.

Because it is stories that most concisely encapsulate our human condition. It is stories that show us that there is good in the ogre; there is beauty in the ugly duckling; and that there is no place like home. It is stories that show us that no matter how awful or black the world may seem, there is some light in it. There is good behind the scenes, there are those attempting to right wrongs, there are those who will fight for the underdog, the downtrodden, the ones left behind.

It is times like this that story becomes even more important.

It is times like this, when the television becomes a weapon, delivering a slew of hate and violence until we just can’t take it any more, that we must unplug, turn it off, drop out and open a book. Who hasn’t lost themselves in a good book when life got just way too overwhelming? Who hasn’t sought solace in a favorite story, the one almost memorized, the go-to imaginary world of prose or poetry that softens the blows, that reminds us that yes, everything will be all right.

It may seem frivolous to pull out the laptop. It may seem even silly to again enter that world you are creating, to create more myths, more monsters, more heroes. But it is those monsters that we can slay. It is those heroes that we can root for. And reading these stories will help us to enter into our own narrative with a fresh perspective, give our mind a little space to process all that it has seen, all the unanswerable questions and perplexing nastiness.

So go. Write your stories. Write your poems. Work on the ideas that are playing in your head. Don’t try to imagine how things in this world can get worse or get better. Control the world you are creating. And when you come out of that world, this world might seem a little more manageable. You may have some answers, some solutions that you hadn’t thought of before. It’s a slim hope, but we need that.

We need to hope that the dragon will be vanquished. That traffic stops won’t be a death sentence. That scuffles won’t turn into vigils. That people will not be blown up as they pray. That some sense will prevail, as we write the most far-fetched story we can think of, the one in which color doesn’t matter.

“Best of” lists

Hey all -
I missed posting earlier this week, so to all of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! I am finally home, and there is a lighted tree and my village is up, and that’s about it. It’s been a long month.

One thing I did manage to do while on the road was to post my Best Books of 2013 list. These lists seem to come out earlier each year, which is kind of silly, I think. I’m sorry, but I actually am still reading all through December! So I used to post my lists quite late. But found that enthusiasm for them waned after the holiday, and they can serve as a bit of a shopping list for those interested. So this year I vowed to post it earlier.Stackedbooks

It is, I think, a great list. It is posted in my Minneapolis Books Examiner column, and as such, it is necessarily Minnesota-centric. I tried to include only those books that had Minnesota connections. But that meant I had to excise several great titles. Still, it’s so full of wonderful things.

And I’m pleased as punch to be included this year in the online list compendium to top all compendiums, put together by Largehearted Boy. You can find me under Minnesota Nice (as the Examiner interface really does make it hard to figure out what the column is called).

Please check out this list of wonderful Minnesota Nice titles, and peruse the other great links that Largehearted Boy has pulled together for your reading pleasure.

And now, I must get back to reading because only a marathon is going to enable me to meet my GoodReads Challenge for this year. sigh.

Does life ever get in your way?

Oh my. Now I have been experiencing some of the problems that so many writers wrestle with. My last post, which was supposed to be public, somehow got marked private. So see Thankfulness. In it, I am expressing thankfulness for good health, among other things. Well, the very night I wrote that, I ended up in the hospital. Isn’t that just the way it goes?

So yes, life happens. And things get in the way of your writing, and of your best intentions to promote your writing. I have talked to countless writers about this. The only thing you can do – the ONLY thing – is to get right back up on the horse and carry on. Don’t worry about what you should have done while you weren’t doing it. Just pick up where you can and move forward. The catch-up thing is a myth. The best way to catch up is to just start where you are.

If you will forgive me my series of terrible awful horrible no-good occurrences, I will do my best to continue onward with this and to help you with robust content, industry insider tips and helpful discussion.

While I know that many are busy this time of year, I urge you to check back often to see what new items have been added. I’ll be adding items to gear up for launch, and you, as an early reader, will get in free. Unfortunately, I can’t do much more than blog posts until next week. (Believe it or not, I’m in the middle of packing up my in-laws family home of 38 years, on top of everything else.) But then I’m out of the gate and running for the roses!

Join me!

Thankfulness

Hello all you bone-crushers!
I know, there are not many yet, but I am confident that there will be more. I have our first registration this week! If you are interested in registering and being grandfathered in when the paying model starts, go ahead and hit the Free Registration page. I am very excited about this endeavor, and I am sure that together, we will all be able to help each other. I look forward to sharing everything I know, and to helping you share your experiences with each other.

I am still reeling from the shock of the loss of my extraordinary friend. But I am aware that I have much to be thankful for. So this year, as much as you can, look around. Note the good things in life. Be aware that all complaints are relative (and I don’t mean that all complaints should be about relatives!). Take comfort in the good things in life. Hug those you love. Make time.

Here’s a short list of things I am thankful for:
Love in hard times.
Friends and family who love me anyway.
Books – and the awesome writers who write them.
The opportunity to work at doing what I love.
A cool clear glass of water.
My fuzzy slippers.

I am thankful every day that I am able to pursue my dreams, that I have the curiosity to do so, and that my body continues to hold me up. I know it may sound trite, but I’m happy that my hands function to type, my eyes function to read, and any pain is minor enough not to distract me. Anything is possible!

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.