Saturday, October 25, 2008


Well, it's beginning to feel like Fall here—even if it is still much warmer than it would be places I've lived most of my life. Time to begin making soup, baking more, bundling up when I take Sophy for early morning walks. Well, okay, at least putting on a light jacket!

It's also the time of year I feel like curling up with good books—and working on my own. That's why the timing of NaNoWriMo is so great. For those of you who are writers and don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Here's the website for NaNoWriMo. It's a good way to really get yourself in the habit of writing every day—or at least most days—and perhaps writing faster than you thought you could. It's a way to do it and get lots of support from other writers.

We're obviously living in a time of change. Even for non-writers, keeping a journal or in some way writing down how we feel or think about what's happening can be a useful way of coping with the anxiety that times like this can produce.

Here's hoping all of you are enjoying Fall where you are and perhaps taking pen in hand or typing on the computer as we go into the days and changes ahead.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Week that Got Away

This is one of those weeks that got away from me. You know the kind I mean. Just when you're ready to unwind and relax you remember you have a meeting—and it's one you want to attend. Just as you sit down to write a blog post the phone rings and someone you care about needs help with something. The dog figures out how to pull down the drapes . Or your kid says, “Mom, I think I might have a concussion.”

Everything turns out okay but....the week gets away from you.

One of the blessings of a week like this is the reminder to double check what someone tells you—rather than getting upset before you check if it's true or maybe can be changed. It was a reminder that much of what we worry about turns out okay. Why put energy into worrying before we have to? And it was a reminder that sometimes it's better to laugh than get angry at the surprises life hands us. (The drapes went right back up with no damage.)

If you're a writer, how do your characters handle situations like these? What do they do or say that's both unique and universal? (Example: It's universal to fall in love. It's unique if the way the person shows that he has is to give the other person a dragon figurine because he knows that to her it represents the strength she wishes she had and which he knows she does.) How do different characters handle things differently? Who worries? Who refuses to worry? Who goes still and who gets active? Who goes for walks and who insists on staying by the phone and talking to friends?

One of the blessings of being a writer is realizing there are all sorts of possible answers and that there is rarely only one that's right. It can make us more understanding of others and help us realize that we can choose which one serves us—and those we love—best.

Here's hoping you're all having great weeks and they're not getting away from you!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Plea for Civility

Right now emotions are running high—as they always do right before major elections. We see ads running that are misleading at best and outright lies at worst. Fear drives people to take stands denouncing anyone who disagrees with that person's position. Today I'd like to make a plea.

Please listen with respect to someone who supports the person you oppose. Listen for the fear that lies behind that support. And then listen to your own arguments and hear the fear in your own voice. We all want what's best for this country. Where we disagree is in what might provide that solution—or who might provide that solution.

I don't believe anyone has a lock on wisdom. Our best shot of creating a happier, healthier and yes, safer country and world is to work together, all of us treating each other with respect as we do so.

I understand ambition and I cringe every time I see or hear someone abandon their principles in order to succeed. I admire those who are willing to acknowledge that someone with whom they disagree could be a good and decent person anyway.

It's hard to do that when we are afraid and yet paradoxically it's our best shot at solving whatever crisis is scaring us.

If you are a writer, how do your characters deal with disagreements? Do they listen with respect? Do they attack? What in their past experience has shaped how they deal with disagreement? What does it mean to them? What do or could your characters who disagree learn from each other?

Even if ultimately we or our characters must take a stand, our best shot of persuading others to stand with us is to begin by listen to and hearing and respecting the fear that shapes the other person's position.

Stepping off my soapbox now. But just imagine what kind of world this could be if we all began by treating each other with respect.