For ‘Tolkien Reading Day,’ a Favorite Quote

As someone with a strong sense of wanderlust, the second line of this quote always meant something special to me.  I heard it long before I became familiar with J.R.R.Tolkien or The Lord of the Rings, but when I found out Tolkien wrote it in The Fellowship of the Ring, I smile and thought, Yeah, that makes sense.

In honor of Tolkien Reading Day 2011, I’m happy to share a few of his words.

Resources: The Tolkien Society, Playdura on Flickr, The Daily Post
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For the Love of Literary Landmarks

Literature and travel.  They’re as good together as chocolate and peanut butter.  Thanks, Reese’s!  One of my favorite things to do while traveling, is visit an author’s home.  I find it inspiring and motivating to be in the presence of greatness, and I often leave a visit with a renewed commitment to my writing.

I’ve seen many homes already and plan to keep going, but one of the challenges in planning a visit like this, is that there’s no clearing house of information on these homes.  They’re not exactly Disney (to some), so tourism guides often overlook them.

A.N. Devers, a writer with an obsession similar to mine (the literary/travel one, not the chocolate/peanut butter one), found the same thing.  In response, she created Writers’ Houses, an online travel guide to writers’ homes in the U.S., with a sprinkling of homes around the world.  The homes are searchable by author, city, state, or country.  Each listing includes links, photos, hours, addresses, and other details to help make trip planning easier.

The website, launched in July 2010, is a work-in-progress, and Ms. Devers hopes to expand it with contributions from other literary travelers.

If armchair travel is more your speed, Writers’ Houses is a fun place to visit.  Just point and click to visit Walt Whitman’s birthplace, Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home, or the F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald Museum.

To get your trip started, here are a few of the literary landmarks I’ve visited:

William Faulkner’s office at Rowan Oak in Oxford, Mississippi.

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Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

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  Dove Cottage, William Wordsworth’s home in Grasmere, Cumbria England
Resources: Writers Houses, The Daily Post

Persistence Pays Off for Writers

Dani Shapiro says writers’ tenacity reminds her of a terrier with a bone, but it has its benefits.

In an essay posted on The Inner Writer, bestselling author Dani Shapiro writes about how difficult it has become for new writers to succeed in the publishing world today.  With a focus on blockbusters and bestsellers, she wonders how writers will be able to take the time and put in the effort needed “to create  something original and resonant and true?”

For most writers, the writing life is not the red carpet life.  There are no lush scenes of privilege and excess.  What writers get instead, she writes “is this miserable trifecta: uncertainty, rejection, disappointment.”

Woo hoo! Where do I sign up?

Ms. Shapiro’s insight is discouraging, but it’s also realistic.  It’s a tough door to break through, but there is still room in the market for the newcomers.  By focusing on the writing itself, and not on publishing, perhaps we can we can find the courage and the dogged tenacity to keep going when the rejections and doubts start piling up.  That’s when we’ll find that the risks are worth the rewards.

To read the essay, please visit:  A writing career becomes harder to scale.

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Your Brain on Write is a series of posts
exploring scientific, psychological
and cognitive aspects of writing and creativity.
Click here to see additional posts in the series.

Resources:  The Inner Writer, Dani Shapiro, The Daily Post


Monday Motivator: Toni Morrison

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The Monday Motivator is a quote posted each week to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources: Denise Chan Photo, The Daily Post

Monday Motivator: Dr. Seuss

Image reblogged from IM NOT TRYING TO IMPRESS YOU BUT I’M THE DOCTOR at Tumblr

 

Dr. Seuss, whose birthday is Wednesday (March 2, 1904), was the author of 44 children’s books, including “Green Eggs and Ham,” “The Cat in the Hat,” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

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The Monday Motivator is a quote posted each week to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources: Dr. Seuss, The Daily Post

Monday Motivator: Frank McCourt

The Monday Motivator is a quote posted each week to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  Let me know if you have a favorite quote you’d like to share.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources: Frank McCourt The Daily Post

Atwood Finds Her Way After Early Career Confusion

When I think about my career path, I often envision the old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs gets knocked out by a girder and sleep walks through a construction site.  Just as he’s about to plummet off the edge of a girder, another one moves into place and he  keeps on walking.

There have been times I tried to plan my professional life, but confusion, too many choices, uncertainty about my aptitude or skills, kept me from anything too definitive.  The truth is, my career  has been a bit of a Looney Tune.  I have moved along, step by step, blissfully unaware of what lies ahead.  Just when I’m about to step off the edge, another girder carries me to safety.

Despite the meanderings, “what I do” has always been somehow connected to words, and I’m happy where I’ve landed.  The ground feels pretty solid right now, even though I know that might be the sleep walker talking.  If so, I know the next girder will lead to something interesting.

I was happy to find this interview with Margaret Atwood.  She talks about confusion over her career choices.  At various times, starting at age 8, she thought about becoming a clothing designer, a home economist, and a biologist.

“Then the writing took over,” she says.

I know the feeling.

Resources:  Homeless Hare by Warner Brothers, The Daily Post

Monday Motivator: Erica Jong gets Subversive

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it … It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.
— Erica Jong
“How to Save Your Own Life”

♥  ♥  ♥
Happy Valentine’s Day

The Monday Motivator is a quote posted each week to encourage, inspire, and motivate writers of all skill levels and across genres.  If you have a favorite quote to share, let me know and I’ll post it here.  Click here to see past Monday Motivators.

Resources: Erica Jong, The Daily Post

For Writers, Words Happen. But How?

As you write, do your ideas come to you in the form of words or do they come in the form of image, sense, or emotion?  If it’s the latter, how do you translate those sensual experiences into words that convey the experience for readers?

Before Words: How to Think Like A Poet, from the Psychology Today blog Imagine That! explains how for writers such as T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Virginia Woolf, “writing begins in a land without language.”

Read more.

Resources: Psychology Today, The Daily Post

Visiting Alice Walker’s Garden on her Birthday

Today is Alice Walker’s 67th birthday.  Her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Color Purple,” is one of my favorites; the movie is too. But beyond the brief biography I read in connection with her book, I didn’t know a thing about her.  Until today.

Thank you, Internet!

Her perfectly titled website Alice Walker’s Garden is an incredible place to visit, walk around, admire, and enjoy.  The site includes Ms. Walker’s blog, information on books old and new, poetry, audio and video interviews, photos, and a biography.  It’s the biography that captured my attention the longest.  It starts out saying Alice Walker is a “Poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, anthologist, teacher, editor, publisher, womanist and activist.”

Nice resume!

It goes on to talk about a childhood experience involving lying, which, as she explains, “… is the root of my need to tell the truth, always, because I experienced, very early, the pain of telling a lie.”

It’s fascinating to read about this early experience that helped shape the woman she became.  To learn more for yourself, or read some of her poetry, essays, or other words, visit Alice Walker’s Garden.  While you’re there, wish her a happy day.

Resources:  Alice Walker’s Garden, The Daily Post.