Something Wonderful

A Winter Ride
by Amy Lowell

Who shall declare the joy of the running?
Who shall tell of the pleasures of flight?
Springing and spurning the tufts of wild heather,
Sweeping, wide-winged, through the blue dome of light.
Everything mortal has moments immortal,
Swift and God-gifted, immeasurably bright.
So with the stretch of the white road before me
Shining snow crystals rainbowed by the sun,
Fields that are white, stained with long, cool, blue shadows,
Strong with the strength of my horse as we run.
Joy in the touch of the wind and the sunlight!
Joy! With the vigorous earth I am one.

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Encouraging Words

A cornucopia of wonderful thoughts and sayings I wanted to share to uplift and energize us all:

“Play is the highest form of research.”  Albert Einstein

“Money, is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around
encouraging young things to grow.”  Thornton Wilder

“Life is an adventure.”

“Always find time to do the things that make you happy to be alive.”

“The lighter you live the further you go.”

“Be your own kind of beautiful.”

“I argue that Love hath Life and Life hath immortality.”   Emily Dickinson

“Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by the imagination.”   Voltaire

“To get the full value of a Joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”   Mark Twain

From a journal I bought to give a friend:

“We are the music-makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.”   Arthur O’Shaughnessy

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”   George Bernard Shaw

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.”  Salvador Dali

“I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity,
is daring to dare.”   Maya Angelou

“From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines.”    Walt Whitman

May these words inspire and encourage us all. Write on!

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Taking Time

“…you can’t rush creativity.” John Legend

“You can’t rush creativity”—how true! I was reminded of these words when I came across a chapter called “How Long Does It Take?” by Louise DeSalvo in her helpful and spirited guide, The Art of Slow Writing.

“How long does it take to write a book?” When a fellow writer asked her this question, Louise didn’t know what to tell her, but she “suspected she was asking me if it was all right that she was taking a long time to finish the book she was currently working on.”

Louise went on to recount long bouts of writing she’d heard of:

Ten years passed for Jeffrey Eugenides between his writing of Middlesex and The Marriage Plot, during which he was writing “most every day.”

It took Charles Johnson six years to write Middle Passage. As he recalls, “I had a draft done after a year and it didn’t work. So I went back and rewrote it for five years.”

John Barth, author of Lost in the Funhouse takes about four years to write a book.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote The Signature of All Things in four months after spending “three and a half years on research alone.”

How long does it take to write a book? It takes as long as it takes.

The shorter answer is WIT: Whatever It Takes.

Story, novel or a play—putting in the time is what matters.

When we put in the time we figure out what we’re trying to say.

When we put in the time, muddy places get clearer.

When we put in the time, the universe rewards us.

When we put in the time, magic happens. Write on!

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Worlds Within

A writer is a world trapped in a person.” Victor Hugo

I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein

A world within us and the imagination to encircle the world without us.

How powerful we are as creatives! We all have worlds trapped inside us, everyone on the planet, but as writers, we have the will and the skill to share our world with others—or to share someone else’s world through our words.

Only think of it! Worlds within and the power to “encircle the world” through our imagination. Let’s ponder that power for a moment:

We can share our own thoughts and dreams and fears. And when we do, the people who read about them know that they are not alone.

We can give voice to others who may not have the ability to share their stories. We can bring those stories to the world through our words.

We can let our imaginations soar far beyond the limits and problems of day-to-day life—we can envision worlds that are unencumbered.

We can help people to see and understand what they haven’t seen or understood before—we can open eyes and hearts.

We can create characters and stories that lift people up and allow them to dream and plan for a future that’s far kinder and better.

Our pens and pencils and computers—are mighty! Write on!

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Even Better

“Some people think I work too hard, but the important thing for me is to keep going…Whether you are 24, 64, or 74 makes no difference. The only thing that counts is how good the show is.” Irving Berlin, songwriter and composer

“Self-discipline is an individual’s greatest asset.” Lou Holtz, football coach

The creator of “White Christmas,” and “God Bless America” —Irving Berlin—and Lou Holtz, a football coach,might seem like strange bedfellows, but to my mind, these two bits of wisdom belong together.

Wherever we are on our writing journey, there’s a way to keep going—to “go on with the show” and more than that, to make the show you’re working on—the story or the novel or the play—even better than the last one.

There’s always something new to learn that can improve our craft, always some new, better idea to reach for that can enrich our work. And always a clearer, truer, deeper way to say what we want to say.

But finding our way there isn’t always easy. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes heart. It takes self-discipline.

To say something even better than we have in the moment, and even better than we ever have before, isn’t easy. Sometimes it eludes us. Sometimes we feel too tired or discouraged to reach for it. Sometimes we feel no one but us really cares about what we’re striving for.

That’s when self-discipline kicks in and keeps us going. I like to think of self-discipline as that extra fuel in our creative gas tank—the extra bit of energy that’s created and renewed each time we push past a barrier. Each time we fight through an obstacle and come out the other side, we get a little stronger, a little tougher. We renew our precious supply of self-discipline—of stick-to-it-I’ve-ness. What a gift!

So let’s remember to keep going and growing. Write on!

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Martin Motivates

Martin Luther King’s birthday is actually January 15th, but since it is being celebrated this Monday, as I do each year, I hope to inspire us all with some of his words of wisdom about hope, faith, life, and excellence:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom.”

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”

“We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

“We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well.”

And whatever your goals and dreams are, your words matter. Your writing can make a difference — believe in their power and write on!

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Something Wonderful

Sneezles

A.A. Milne

Christopher Robin
Had wheezles
And sneezles,
They bundled him
Into
His bed.
They gave him what goes
With a cold in the nose,
And some more for a cold
In the head.
They wondered
If wheezles
Could turn
Into measles,
If sneezles
Would turn
Into mumps;
They examined his chest
For a rash,
And the rest
Of his body for swellings
and lumps
They sent for some doctors
In sneezles
And wheezles
To tell them what out
To be done.

All sorts and conditions
Of famous physicians
Came hurrying round
At a run.
They all made a note
Of the state of his throat,
They asked if he suffered
from thirst;
They asked if the sneezles
Came after the wheezles,
Or if the first sneezle
Came first.
They said, “If you teazle
A sneezle
Or wheezle,
A measle
May easily grow.
But humour or pleazle
The wheezle
Or sneezle,
The measle
Will certainly go.”
They expounded the reazles
For sneeles
And wheezles,
The manner of measles
When new.
They said, “If he freezles
In draughts and in breezles,
Then PHTHEEZLES
May even ensue.”

Christopher Robin
Got up in the morning,
The sneezles had vanished away.
And the look in his eye
Seemed to say to the sky,
“Now, how to amuse

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Tillie Triumphs

Tillie Olsen was born today, January 14. She is a daring writer associated with the political upheaval of the 1930s and with the first generation of feminists. A few of her wise words to ponder and apply:

“And when is there time to remember, to sift, to weight, to estimate, to total?

“It is distraction, not meditation, that becomes habitual; interruption, not continuity; spasmodic, not constant, toil.”

“She would not exchange her solitude for anything. Never again to be forced to move to the rhythm of others.”

“I could not live by literature if only to begin with, because of the slow maturing of my work and its special character.”

“Women have the right to say: this is surface, this falsifies reality,, this degrades.”

“Literature is a place for generosity and affection and hunger for equals, not a prizefight ring. We are increased, confirmed in our medium, roused to do our best, by every good writer, every fine achievement.”

“Literary history and the present are dark with silences…The silences I speak of are unnatural: the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being, but cannot.”

“”It is a long baptism into the seas of humankind, my daughter. Better immersion than to live untouched.”

“Not to have an audience is a kind of death.”

“Every woman who writes is a survivor.”

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”Fourth Wind”

“If an unusual necessity forces us onward, a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue gets worse up to a certain point, then gradually, or suddenly, it passes away and we are fresher than before! We have evidently tapped a new level of energy. There may be layer after layer of this experience, a third and a fourth wind.

“We find amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own, sources of strength habitually not taxed, because habitually we never push through the obstruction of fatigue.” William James

Wow, I’ve heard of a second wind, but never a third or fourth wind. But since William James is considered the father of American psychology, I’m willing to give this a go.

How about you? Chances are, you’re going to hit a wall sometime soon. I’ve hit one right now, today. I can feel that I’m flagging a bit, even after a good night’s sleep. I’ve been firing some brain cells recently working on a project and I’m feeling a bit tapped out.

But I’m going to take William at his word. I’m going to go forward with velocity and see what happens—I’m going to see what’s on the other side of the fatigue I’m feeling. If I can catch a second wind today during my writing time, I’ll be happy. But maybe, there’s a third or a fourth wind just waiting to be caught—wouldn’t that be wonderful!

Just imagine, if we caught a second wind—an unexpected burst of energy, and then caught a third or a fourth wind! Just think how high we’d be flying! What marvelous ideas might be within our grasp.

So often, we sell ourselves short. We retreat when we hit a bit of rough weather on the writing front. It’s encouraging to think that there may be sunshine on the other side of our decision to keep going. Write on!

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Roving Reading

“There is more treasure in books than in all the loot on Treasure Island…and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” Walt Disney

“If you don’t have time to read, you on’t have the time (or tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King

Walt said it more graciously than Stephen, but as writers we all know how important reading is. It’s one of the key tools in our writers kit bag. We read, not just to lounge around and be entertained, b;it to learn—to discover how other writers do what they do as a way of improving our own craft.

With lots to do and limited time, it’s easy to spend our reading time staying “close to home” in our own genres, rather than ranging farther a field. But sometimes getting out of our comfort zone on the reading front can be energizing and enlightening. Here are a few ways to expand our reading range:

Read books on writing: I have a shelf or two of writing guides that I turn to again and again for ideas and guidance. Sometimes we forget about these old friends, but they are always waiting for us. Why not make it a point to dip into one trusted guide every week?

Read articles outside of your personal interests: There’s nothing like reading an engaging story about a topic you have no interest in and seeing how author managed to entice and hook you just through the sheer writing skill.

Read books outside your genre: It’s safe and easy to read inside our genre to see what other authors are doing—how they construct their plot lines and use accepted tropes. But genre jumping as a reader can also be valuable. If you’re writing a fantasy, spending some time reading, say, a mystery, can be instructive. You may learn how to raise more questions in your readers’ minds by planting clues in your story.

Read books on self-help: Even here, we don’t have to limit ourselves to personal growth guides. We can also venture into unfamiliar territory. Reading about entrepreneurship, for example, can help us understand how to navigate the business side of writing.

Writers are readers. So let’s be adventurous as we all write on!

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