Isabel Allende

My Tabs

I'm not really sure what this has to do with writing, probably nothing, though perhaps we could say it has a lot to do with creativity.  Yes, that's the ticket.  It's all about the creativity.

For some reason today, I got an idea to write about my tabs.  You know, the ones that you keep open on your computer.  Wait, you don't keep tabs open on your computer?  I do.  I currently have 12 of them open, even though it's much easier to open and close tabs and keep track of them since I downloaded Google Chrome, replacing years of using Firefox.  (For the record, I love Chrome.)

So here goes, from left to right, the tabs I currently have open:

1.  My Gmail inbox.

2. The site for an online workshop called Yoriginality.  It's about becoming a yoga teacher.  Kinda not sure where this came from, I think Twitter.  I am not going to become a yoga teacher, but I have recently started doing yoga after years of resisting it, so I was interested in the mother site, which is Curvyyoga.  And, also recently, I discovered Alexandra Franzen (more on her in a minute), and she's one half of the Yoriginality duo.  

3. The page for an E-course on painting that I would cut off my right hand to take (but then, hmmm, I wouldn't be able to paint).  This is the site of painter Flora Bowley, and its worth exploring for all the interesting and inspiring things she features. This must have come from Twitter as well.  I love me the Twitter.

4.  A post from the above-mentioned Alexandra Franzen, titled, Read This When You Can't Remember Who You Are, What You Do, Why You Do It–or How to Talk About It.  The post features a handy little exercise to help you discover who in the hell you are.  Another site that is worth exploring (which explains why I have it and Flora's open on my tabs–so I can go peruse them in spare moments).

5.  My Typepad blogging site, which I keep open to stay current with comments and stats, and also to inspire me to blog.

6.  My latest blog post, so I can tweet it and such.

7.  My Twitter @connect feed so I can keep up with who wants to talk to me.

8.  My Comcast inbox.

9.  Page which has information on purchasing tickets for upcoming talks by Isabel Allende and Diana Gabaldon, both of whom I would very much like to see. (I went to a lecture by Isabel years ago, and it was one of the best I've ever heard.)

10.  The Slashed Reads site, which my publisher pointed out to me and which I may do a giveaway with (though they don't know it yet–haven't gotten around to contacting them, hence why the page is open in my tabs).

11.  My hootsuite page.  Which is how I manage all my Twitter people.  If I were ever on Facebook, it's how I would manage that, too.  But I'm never on Facebook.

12.  And finally, my Yahoo home page, where I have a really random variety of RSS feeds stored.  I know the whole RSS thing is going out of favor and Google ditched their version of it, but I stubbornly like it.  I like having all the blogs I read in one place.

And that's it–those are my tabs.   A day in the life of my computer, I guess.  Hopefully it reveals me as a fascinating, multi-faceted creature, but I'm not holding my breath about that.

So, reassure me that I'm not crazy–you keep tabs open on your computer, right?  Right?  Care to share which ones?

Can Writing Set You Free?

Firework_fireworks_July_268936_lToday is Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, a day in which we Americans celebrate the anniversary of our freedom from those pesky English overlords.  There's currently a lot of media attention to the themes of freedom and independence, and thus I've been thinking of how these concepts apply to writing.

Many years ago, I had the pleasure to hear Isabel Allende speak.  She was well-known then; I'd wager a guess she's even better known now.  I love her books, and I love her own personal story as well. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, here you go:  A native Chilean, she fled her home country in 1975, after her cousin Salvadore Allende's presidency was overthrown in a bloody coup.  When she learned her beloved grandfather, who still lived in Chile, was dying, she began writing a letter to him, and this letter eventually became her first and arguably, best-known, book, The House of the Spirits.  She's now a U.S. citizen.)

This is a woman who knows a lot about freedom.  And the main thing I remember from her speech that night, besides the fact that I was wicked inspired,was that she talked about how we writers who live in free countries are lucky, precisely because we are free.  And furthermore, we rarely stop to consider how writers in repressive countries and cultures don't have the freedom to put whatever words they want on the page.

Some of us might squander that freedom by oh, say, indulging in writer's block.  Or, making chores like the laundry and dishes more important than our writing.  (That, as my family can tell you, is not one of my issues.)  Maybe I you spend too much time on the internet or reading email?  Next time those temptations lure you, remember all those writers in faraway places who would love to have your freedom to put words on the page.

And, if you would like to ponder further, think about this:

–Writing can set you free from negativity.  It can release you from anxiety and fear and doubt through the simple act of getting all these toxic emotions on the page.  Out of your body they go, out into the world in a safe vessel. 

–The writing life itself can set you free.  Whether you're a bestselling novelist, a free-lance writer, or a jack-of-all-writing-trades, the writing life affords you freedom to choose your time, your jobs, your travels, everything.

–Writing can set you free from your story.  I know, ironic huh?  Here we are devoted to story, and here I am, advocating you free yourself from yours.  We tend to get really wrapped up in our stories, which many spiritually-minded people would say is just an illusion anyway.  As an example, here's one I've been struggling with lately:  I should never, ever abandon a writing project, even when it is clearly not working.   What's yours?  Write it out.  As Julia Cameron says, "Put the drama on the page."  (She learned this when her then-husband Martin Scorcese was gallivanting around Europe with his new lover, while "friends" helpfully send clips of articles back to her in L.A., where she was caring for their newborn baby daughter.  And continuing to write.)

–Writing can free you to fall in love.  Yes, it can.  Because when you are writing regularly, you're in love with the world, and nothing feels better.

–Writing can free you to be who you are meant to be.  Truly, there's no faster path to self-knowledge (and yes it is important) than writing–whether you are laying down words in your journal or writing that novel of yours.

So those are the ways that writing sets you free that occur to me.  What about you?  How does writing set you free?  Please leave a comment.

Photo by StheR.