Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Two-thousand thirteen.

Monday, December 31st, 2012

A happy New Year
[Photo Credit]

Although I skipped over the usually obligatory Thanksgiving, advent, Christmas, and other end-of-year posts, I think New Year’s posts are some of the best in blog-land. There’s something so inspiring about reading everyone’s goals, focus words, and year-end reflections and accomplishments. (My 2012 year in review post WILL be coming soon, once my best and I have a chance to hash out the happenings.)

Some of these goals aren’t measurable or specific (we all know how “do ______ more” usually pans out)… but here are a few areas I’d like to improve:

  • Eating at the kitchen table. Right now we eat almost every night on our couch while watching Netflix (for shame!). This is because our kitchen table (first stop after the front door in our tiny apartment) is our clutter-catch-all, and we never want to both cook AND straighten the table. I’d like to use our cute placemats, pay attention to each other, have conversations, and get up from the kitchen table when we’re done (which I suspect will make cleaning up from dinner immediately a much more natural transition).
  • Start playing the piano again. My aim is once a week to start out. I figure if I do this, I will naturally want to play more than that, which is my eventual goal. To make this goal more measurable, I’ll probably decide on a few songs to learn and perfect.
  • Develop better routines. This is a biggie. It includes creating a rough weekly schedule that works with my highly variable work responsibilities, a cleaning routine that works for both of us, a gym routine and a morning routine. I started majorly slacking in the morning (and letting myself) when I got sick this summer, and now I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed until Eric’s almost ready to leave for work. Ideally I’d be awake with Bible read and tea/coffee had by that time, ready to start my work day.
  • Pick a few books of the Bible to read and re-read this year. I’m stealing this approach to a Bible-reading plan from this post by our good friend Paul. I’ve chosen Esther, Isaiah and Phillipians so far. Any suggestions?
  • Simplify and improve our eating. Eric and I have talked about wanting to start eating organic meats as a step toward improving the quality of what we put in our bodies. This means eating less meat in general and finding out where the best deals are, as our grocery budget doesn’t have much room to expand. We’ve talked about doing a CSA arrangement if we can find an affordable one. I love cooking, but grocery planning/shopping is one of my most hated chores.
  • Become a better photographer. This will probably involve working through some online tutorials, as well as practicing a lot. I’m looking forward to this goal as a fun one, especially with our new camera.
  • Work through a writing book slowly and do all the exercises. I tend to treat writing books as general inspiration, instead of really using them to practice skills. I have a couple awesome writing books right now, including On Writing Writing Down the Bones, Bird by Bird, and one from my mother-in-law called Writing as Way of Healing. I want to spend some quality time with each one.
  • Blog more consistently. I know I’ve totally neglected my blog this year. It was a strange year in some ways, especially with four months of sickness, which I think left me quite depressed in the low energy, just getting by kind of way. One positive is that that leaves me with tons of blogging material, particularly about my writing career, that I never got to in 2012. That should be enough to jump-start my new blogging habit.

Thanks for bearing with me through the breaks this year, friends.

2012 in review, coming soon! (PROMISE!)


What wonderful minds.

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

[photo credit]

I have always said 20th century American literature is my favorite.

Something — the disillusionment, the concurrent hope — spoke to me as true. The protagonists’ pursuits of true freedom in this “free” country resonated. Further freedom from government, from confines, from boundaries, and — as they got freer and freer and recognized the thing that still trapped them — from themselves.

Tim Parks, essayist for The New York Review of Books, published “The Chattering Mind” in June to reveal what he says is the true protagonist of 20th century literature — “the mind that can’t make up its mind, the mind postponing action in indecision and, if we’re lucky, poetry.”

Here are a few notable quotes from the essay:

Seeing the pros and cons of every possible move, this modern man is paralysed, half-envying those less intelligent than himself who throw themselves instinctively into the fray…

It’s all quite reassuring, even self-congratulatory. What wonderful minds we have, even though they don’t seem to get us anywhere, or make us happy.

…at least I’ve understood and brilliantly dramatized the futility of my brilliant exploration of my utter impotence.

It is hard not to congratulate oneself on the quality of one’s unhappiness.

Is this true? Can it sum up an entire century of writing?

Whether or not this is overly simple — and I’d argue that mostly it isn’t — I see myself so much in these observations. Postponing action, occasionally with something as worthwhile as poetry but usually with somethings much less meaningful and much more tedious and maddening.

And the love, too. The love of brilliant dramatization, of wonderful, dissatisfying minds.

And here I am again, the mind that can’t make up its mind.

More on this to come. Thoughts?


Gifts for Writers

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Christmas brought plenty of encouragement this year in every regard: I got to see every family member on my side of the family, hid away in a cabin in a ghost town, skied, water-parked, did NO work, and really just loved the break. So much so that for the first time in a while, I got misty-eyed leaving. It seemed normal life just wouldn’t compare to time spent with many of the people I love most.

Thankfully I had some tangible reminders of that love in my hands when I left — thoughtful gifts that will bring joy long after my floor is cleared of dried up pine needles and the garlands are tucked away.  Here are a few specifically writing-related gifts I’m enjoying in 2012:

2012 Writer's Market, Stephen King's On Writing, Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis

Square Card Reader, LAMY fountain pen, Lights Acoustic album.

1.  2012 Writer’s Market
For learning about submitting articles, poetry, and other stuff in a wide range of print and other media publications.

2. Stephen King’s On Writing
Widely regarded as one of the very best books on writing you can read. And I’ve never read it!

3. Wildwood
For the Decemberists fan, adventurer, and Portland-dweller in all of us…  Colin Meloy and his wife Carson Ellis have written and illustrated a beautiful and imaginative story.  Eric and I saw them at Wordstock this year and heard them explain the book and read from it. Way cool.

4. Square reader
Now I take credit cards for my writing services. Just cool.

5. LAMY fountain pen
I trusted my research-loving husband to pick a good pen out for me that I would love, and he delivered. It does everything I want it to, but mostly it makes me want to write with it constantly.

6. Lights Acoustic
I had never heard of this band before my sister introduced me to them this Christmas. Girl-singing-over-acoustic-guitar always tugs my writing heart strings.

Writers: what writing-related items are your favorites this season?


The weight of gratitude.

Monday, November 7th, 2011

[photo credit]

Previous gifts here

241. Heavy cream swirling clouds in tea.
242. Thick socks on hard wood floor.
243. The long, happy life of a missed pup.
244. Magical, unexpected overlap of concepts in sermon and multiple personal readings.
245. Black cat big as my torso.
246. Bright sun/cold day.
247. Trees like fire.
248. New skis and longing for snowy mountains.
249. Saturday long-week-recovery: knitting and Netflix.
250. Words that inject redemption deep.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Habakkuk 2:14

I am still reading One Thousand Gifts; if I was inspired toward gratitude before, taking others’ words for it, I am now electrified, and my thanks is charged with significance.

Why train yourself in thanksgiving?

It is a holy means of transforming ugly to beautiful.
It is moment by moment trust in God’s goodness.
It turns blind faith to soul-dependence.
It invites glimpses of glory on earth and creates insatiable hunger for it.
It clears vision to see grace.

Let gratefulness swallow you up today, friends.



Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Dear friends —

This morning I submitted my first real, official piece of freelance copy editing.  It felt wonderful.  My days are filling quickly now that training for my new job has started, and I’m eager to settle into a routine that I set.  Blogging will be among the scheduled activities, to be sure.  Speaking of business, little photos of me by the ever-lovely Heather Terry Photography have popped up in my online world.  Sidebar and About pages feature a me that’s a little more current!

Anyway. To the real reason I’m writing.

I’ve been putting off posting this for a few days.

Partly because this book I’ve been reading is on everyone’s list, it seems, and is so blogged about and even made the New York Times bestseller list, and I just don’t know what else I can say about it.

But mostly because I want it all to myself.  Not in the “you can’t read it” kind of way — read it all you want.  But tell you about it? How could I possibly start? (Not to mention I’ve even participated in this book’s following without even knowing. Without even knowing.)


This book feels like home to me.  The way Ann Voskamp writes poems into prose; the way she switches up tenses and turns nouns into adjectives in the exact way I hope for when I tell students to “learn the rules so you can break them”; the way she delves fearlessly into her real, hard sorrow, and comes up with beauty.  I have mostly abandoned screens during evenings this week and retreated into my headphone world with pencil and journal and have read this precious book, and have written more poetry lately (and with more importance) than in the last year because of it.

I don’t want to say anything else about it.  It speaks for itself better than I ever could.  Please, please read it.

I won’t be sharing any of the poems I wrote this week, but I hope to be writing some soon that I could maybe, possibly post.

What is the most beautiful, soul-scraping book you’ve ever read?