Following my own fortune (cookie)

November 9, 2014 |  by  |  Live life fully  |  , ,

writebook

You know writing is good when you feel you have a one-on-one relationship with the author after reading their words. (Does this feeling grant me first name basis? Hug to you, Ann!) Today I’m finishing “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” a collection of essays by New York Times bestselling author, Ann Patchett.  Each of these curated essays are autobiographical in nature, painting the scene of her dashingly successful writer’s life.

While disparate and not chronological, each chapter spells out the broader story of Ann’s life. She uses simply poignant words, sharing her successes without shying away from her faults.  She loves her dying grandmother, swipes a puppy from a child, leaves her first marriage thinking she’d never succumb to matrimony again (although, spoiler alert, she does on p. 265.)

While I find Ann’s personal life interesting, what really intrigues me is her advice on writing. I think of her with something akin to awe, impressed at her gumption and raw talent.  She also inspires me to go after my own writing dreams:

If a person of any age picked up the cello for the first time and said, “I’ll be playing in Carnegie Hall next month!” you would pity their delusion … Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. (p. 28)

With that wisdom in mind, I’m recommitting myself to make time to write, for the sheer pleasure of learning how to write better. You can see the Chinese fortune I’ve kept for years. “You have a charming way with words and should write a book.” Sometimes this fortune taunts me, reminding me I haven’t yet quieted the compulsory urge to be an author. I don’t aim to be the next J. K. Rowling; I’m not after fame and glory. It’s more the sheer delight of capturing a story in words I’ve never gotten over, not since kindergarten.

I sometimes get distracted by other interests, but I’ve always felt writing beckoning me. I’ve had idea after idea, and even started a few books, but put them off with internal justifications. “I’ll get to it after I’m done with grad school assignments,” was the reasoning for a long time, and now, “Oh, maybe when my baby is older, or when I’m in my thirties.” The most logical (and true) excuse is my lack of desire to even look at a computer after a full day of office work. (As Ann states, “The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living.“) While there is validity all of those reasons, something inside me knows I’m procrastinating my own good. (Besides, I make time to keep up with multiple social news feeds. Time’s there for the taking.)

And so, this week I’m following my own fortune, even if I’m starting small. I publicly commit to write for one hour every day this week. I’ll report how it goes.

Here’s a question to consider: If you could write your own fortune – what you really want to achieve – what would it say? And are you going in that direction?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2 Comments


  1. Love your blog it is beautifully written. I try to write each day and have resolved to post a blog every two weeks, missed my first deadline by 4 days but it was posted yesterday. I hope you enjoy you personal writing time and make it for seven days.

    I took advice from On Track to go out to a cafe to write, with just a pad and a pen, really enjoyed got a lot written and it was great to be free of distraction of going to Google to look something up, the phone…… I will now do this every week.

    • Merry, thank you for your kind comment. Wonderful idea to break free from the computer at a cafe, and to leave the computer behind. I hand write my journal because of that very reason – it feels more raw and authentic without the distractions of a screen. I’ll be reporting soon on my week experiment. Cheers to you!

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