Writing Your Way Back To Yourself

This morning I woke up tired, headachy, and full.   Yesterday was, after all, Thanksgiving.  And I cooked for 12 people, which is enough to give anybody an exhaustion hangover.  As I stood in the kitchen, sipping my coffee, I thought that I'd skip my morning routine of writing first thing.  Because, well, I didn't feel like doing anything more than slumping over the newspaper at the kitchen table. But then I told myself I would feel better if I wrote.  So I dragged my tired ass up the stairs to my office and my journal.  And after about a page of writing, I realized something.


I was beginning to feel like myself again.

I can feel the writing bringing me back to myself, I wrote.

And isn't this a most wonderful gift?

All you have to do is write.  It doesn't matter what you write on, or with, or where you write or how, or even what you write about.  All you have to do is write and you'll find your way back to yourself.  And if you do this regularly, well then, miracles might even happen.

It doesn't matter if you write for a living, writing for a business, write with the hopes of someday publishing, or write for your own pleasure, I believe firmly that establishing a regular writing habit will serve you well.  It actually doesn't even matter if you want to be an artist, or a dictator, or the best barista on the planet, I still think that a regular writing habit will serve you well.

Because it will bring you back to yourself.  Again and again and again.  And I think it is one of our strangest and dearest foibles as humans that we need to be brought back to ourselves over and over again.  For most of us, this is a lifelong quest, to remember who we are and come back to it.  Some people never figure it out.  But I believe we writers and creative types have an advantage–because through our creations, we are constantly figuring it out.  And that is why we return to the page again and again and again.

And now, please excuse me while I go eat some leftovers.

I'd love to hear how your writing habits serve you.


Photo by clarita, from MorgueFile.

Yet Another Post on Gratitude

In the United States, tomorrow is Thanksgiving day.

News flash, right? Not.


If you're anything like me, and I like to think that you are, your inboxes and online readers are probably clogged with bloggers and marketers telling you all about gratitude and why it's so important.  And even I jumped onto the bandwagon yesterday, with a post on creating energy that included some bits on gratitude.

Because of all this (or maybe despite it all), I've been thinking a lot about gratitude.  And what I think is that sometimes in our very human way, we do gratitude all wrong in a couple of ways:

1. We see gratitude at the booby prize.  Oh lord, I'm so guilty of this.  It's like, if I can't have what I want (and if anybody is listening, a publishing contract for my novel is at the top of my list) then I have to settle for what I've got.  Settling.  Ugh.  What a dull, boring, blah energy there is to that word, at least in the way I've used it.  And who wants to spend time being grateful for anything dull, boring and blah? Not me.

2. We use gratitude in order to get something.  We're told that if we're only grateful for what we have, we'll get more.  If we are grateful for the money we have, more will come to us.  And so on.  And, the thing is, I believe this is true.  But wouldn't it be nice just to be grateful for what we've got for the sheer lovely joy of it?  Which I think is the true intent of most spiritual and religious practices which emphasize gratitude.

And I think that is how to do gratitude right: just do it.  Because you really do probably have more than 99.9% of the rest of the world.  As Anna Griffin, a columnist for my local newspaper put it this morning, "No whining on the yacht."  Cuz must of us are steering pretty good little boats, even with all the terrible problems of our troubled world.

It really is pretty damn wonderful that we still have a holiday that is devoted to the practice of gratitude.  Well, and eating.  But the point is to eat the abundance for which we are grateful.  And so tomorrow, as my extended family gathers around the table to eat our feast, we'll go around the table and take turns saying one thing we're grateful for.  And as I try to think about what one thing I'll say, there's so much I'm grateful for, truly, deeply grateful for, that I can't even begin to narrow it down.

So I'll say this: I'm grateful that I have so many wonderful things in my life that it is difficult to choose just one thing.

And, by the way, my loyal and wonderful blog readers are included in the many wonderful things in my life that I'm grateful for.  What are you grateful for this year?


The awesome raindrop turkey was designed by my the very talented graphic designer, Christine Rains.  Check out her website here.  You'll see why I'm so grateful that she also happens to be my sister.  Plus she's bringing mashed potatoes and hard sauce for dinner tomorrow.



Give Thanks for Being a Writer

Everyone and their uncle are writing thank you posts and sending out newsletters telling about how grateful Everystockphoto_162217_m they are today. 

Don't get me wrong,this is a good thing–I'm all for gratitude, especially now that I've figured out being grateful doesn't mean settling.  (This is generally where I get hung up on my spiritual journey, misunderstanding the basic tenets of it.)

The only problem I have today is how to say something original about being thankful and full of gratitude.  It is not yet even Thanksgiving, and I've read a gazillion posts and emails and newsletters that say essentially the same thing: we're so grateful for you, our customer reader, its all about me you, I'm going to give you something that costs a lot of money if you read the fine print free, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

All these people are well-meaning, even if some of their emails are thinly veiled sales pitches.  But from a writer's point of view, they tend to repeat the same old platitudes.  And let's face it, even the sweetest among us get tired of platitudes after awhile.  I'm not in the least bit sweet, and I get damned sick of them really fast.

But before you accuse me of massive curmudgeon-hood, hold up a minute.  Because I have lots and lots of things I am grateful and thankful for, not the least of which is you, my wonderful loyal readers.  But I'm not going to say that because everyone else already has and I need to be original.  But if I were going to say it, I would truly, deeply mean it because I do so appreciate every one of you.

What I am going to talk about being grateful for is the fact that I am a writer.  How I had the great, good fortune to get a career that is centered not only around words, but on pulling words up from the deepest levels of self to share.  A career that is about making meaning of life through story.  A career that enables me to spend my days doing what I love most–putting words on paper.  And, let us not forget, once in awhile I get to go out in the world and share my love of writing with you, and I love that, too.

Sometimes, even after all these years of doing this, I sit at my computer working away and the thought overtakes me: I'm writing.  I'm writing and it is the best thing ever.  I know people who write for a living and hate it (I'm not naming any names, you know who you are) and the thought is simply unfathomable to me.  Just as the thought of being alive and not writing in a journal is unthinkable to me, or not coming up with fifty million ideas for novels I'll never have time to write.

I've recently had the wonderful experience of someone coming up to me and saying, "I want to be you."  And in general, when I stop to think about it, I'm pretty happy being me–because I get to write. So besides the fact that I'm grateful for my family, my friends, many of whom truly are family, and so much else in the world this Thanksgiving, I want to state again, how grateful I am to be a writer.

It is a privilege, an honor, and a thrill.  I hope that all of you out there think of it the same way, no matter where you are with your writing, a beginner or an old pro.  And don't forget to give thanks for it.

Oh, What a Night

It is Thanksgiving Eve here in the states and I, like so many others, have much to be thankful for.  Health, family, a career I love, a house that isn’t going into foreclosure, new energy in the country after the elections….I could go on and on.

Tonight is a night that many of us are focusing on preparing a feast for our loved ones.   I should be making pie crust and pondering the intricacies of the vegetable dishes I’m preparing.

But I’m not.  Tonight I’m glued to Twitter, watching real-time updates of the situation in Mumbai, and alternately cringing in horror at what is going on over there and marveling that I can be so up to date on it through the power of social networking.   People on the scene are tweeting, people in other parts of Mumbai are tweeting, people are aggregating news from TVs and other sources and tweeting.  It is citizen journalism at its finest, and it is beating out any other media source for real-time news.

What’s happening in Mumbai is shocking and horrible beyond imagining.  My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who is affected and to all of India.

But in an odd, strange way, the reaction on Twitter tonight gives me hope.  Terrorism and evil breeds in hidden, dark places and citizen journalism shines a light on those dark places so that the rats and vermin have to scatter.  Physicists say that all matter changes just by being observed.  Social networking, at its finest, has the capacity to change matter and more by virtue of the fact that everyone is paying attention now.

Global is now truly local.  General is specific.  The universal is in the details.

Join with me in sending prayers, or positive thoughts, or good wishes for the people in Mumbai.  And let’s all be grateful for what we have on this Thanksgiving Eve, okay?

Happy Thanksgiving to all.