Writing Advice

I didn’t write much over Thanksgiving break. I caught up on all of the stuff around the house I’d been ignoring like the enormous laundry pile in the garage and flipped through some of the magazines I’d ordered from my niece’s school but never had time to read. I felt an inordinate amount of joy when I crammed that final load into the washing machine and chanted the phrase It’s a Christmas Miracle to myself over and over, even though it was technically more of a Thanksgiving Miracle. Then I glanced through Martha Stewart’s calendar in the November issue of her magazine.

Here are a few to-dos from Martha’s Month: Horseback ride, plant vegetables in greenhouse, yoga, fly to Dubai to attend Sharjah International Book Fair, clean gutters, have ice skates sharpened. I got to the part about the ice skates and my own Christmas Miracle fell a little flat. I don’t particularly like horses or ice skates but I like the idea of them. I like the idea of a magical holiday moment involving mittens and hot chocolate and freshly sharpened blades gliding effortlessly beneath twinkling string lights. I like the dream of galloping on a rented horse along a sea shore while wearing a flowing white dress, the kind that looks great on hangers and basketball players but like maternity wear on us mesomorphs. In the dream, I look great though. I’m there in my winter whites cantering just like Martha, a little sea spray splashing lightly on my ankles. You get the idea.

Instead of flying to Dubai, I changed the litter box and cleaned the lint filter. I was about to get a little depressed comparing my insides to Martha’s outsides when I stumbled across the story “Let it Snow” by David Sedaris in an old copy of The New Yorker. In it, he describes a particularly challenging snow day when a winter storm caused an unexpected break from school.

“On the fifth day of our vacation, my mother had a little breakdown. Our presence had disrupted the secret life she led while we were at school, and when she could no longer take it she threw us out.”

I read that story and couldn't help thinking, here's a mother I can relate to. While I've never thrown my family out into the snow to drink myself to oblivion, I am definitely in touch with that feeling you get when vacation goes on a few days too long. Getting back into reality feels pretty good after that. Not as great as Martha’s reality, but it's still ok.

What does all of this have to do with Creating A Creative Life? Well, sometimes we have to take drastic measures to make time for ourselves. We have to make an effort to surround ourselves with the kind of people who will help us see the beauty in our own lives instead of all of the things that are going wrong. It means looking for connection wherever we can find it. For me, Creating A Creative Life means getting into my writing practice even after a hectic holiday break.

Speaking of which, we’re moving our Mornings with Moms writing group to Fridays at noon. That’s not exactly morning any more, but it kind of goes with my magical thinking theme: Picture it, there you are, leisurely rolling out of bed without an alarm. You take a nice long hot shower since your imaginary nanny Sheila came in early and got the kids ready and off to school for you. She also left a plate of crepes on the table with some strawberries and a cup of coffee. Sheila is so thoughtful. You have a breezy Friday morning with ample time to blow-dry your hair then roll on into Panera Bread at 11:59 (still officially morning) for a fun hour or two of writing with your pals.

It might not be quite like that, but we can dream. We can dream and we can write. And like David Sedaris says, "The only real advice you can give anyone is to keep writing." Follow his advice and join us this Friday.

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