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Good Advice from Jessica

From Jessica Morrell’s “The Writing Life” Newsletter, wherein she holds forth on the glories of summer and not seeing writing as suffering:

“. . . . I used to see summer as a distraction—a siren’s call, luring me from my computer and into the garden or park. But I’ve come to realize that I have fewer summers ahead of me than are behind me, and although I despise heat, I’m savoring this summer as if it’s a waking dream. So this isn’t a starry-eyed column about dancing in the daisies or one that suggests that you quit your job, but it is a nudge for you to steal the mood, the languor, the lazy breezes, the quality of light that can only be captured a few brief months each year. To allow them to creep into your cells, to change your way of seeing things, and to illuminate and slow time. Summer is your chance to shine, a chance to believe for a few months that life is truly gift-wrapped. And to allow this all to transform your writing into something alive, that can be experienced by the reader in the way that we experience a summer morning. And to realize that writing is more like summer than other seasons, more like sand castle building than torture.

Summer, while it invites languor, must be met with appreciation for all that is vibrant at our finger tips, for the noise of lawn mowers and bird calls and sprinklers. For the extended hours of daylight and apricot-colored sunsets. The icy drinks and smoky barbecue smells. The rose arbor and vegetable patch. Fourth of July fireworks and motorboats cutting through blue waters and waterfalls splashing down with as if joy could be dispensed in a column of water.

Now, in the midst of appreciation and celebrations we need to keep working on the novel, memoir, column, or letter to the editor. But write about what is right in front of you. Step outside and notice, and then allow the torpor of a dreamy afternoon or evening to stir your memories and senses.

Immerse yourself in the minutiae of life—which is where great writing comes from. Because it’s the details in writing that convince readers that a story is unfolding. So for a few months, live life like a poet, or a person newly released from prison, or a stranger to the place you live. . . .” —–

I’ve been a fan of Jessica’s monthly e-newsletter on writing for a long while. It always informs me and often inspires. Sign up here.


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