At the Heart of It All

The dream of being a writer is at the heart of it all. It is the seed, dormant and ungerminated. It is the pale cicada larva, nestled within the cool earth. The dream is all potential with no certainty.

The dream is scary because to know it is to risk losing it. The dream is scary because it is powerful. It is an act of faith. It is religion.

We shroud our writerly dream in mystery, swaddle it in reverence. We create a small shrine and decorate our dream with flowers and trinkets. We light candles in its honor. We pretend that the dream is ephemeral, like fate and anti matter. The dream is more beautiful this way because it is not real. It is easier to light another candle in devotion than it is to burn down the church. Continue reading “At the Heart of It All”

How Reading Books Inspired Me To Write

I have read 21 books this year, and I am no longer the same person.

Or, rather, I feel like a better, more creative version of the same person.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write,” Stephen King declares in On WritingI’m not sure I would have fully understood that statement before this year. Sure, I’ve always read, but there are times in my life when I’ve read voraciously, actively.  There are times when I’ve read a lot out of obligation, when I was in school for instance. And then, sadly, there are those more recent years of passive, non-committed reading. The picking up of the book I should be reading, the half-hearted trudge through a few pages, the putting it down for weeks, the guilt that stirred me to pick it up again, and so on, and so on.

This year, motivated by my shame as a bad English major, I resolved to read more. 40 books was my lofty goal. I read 6 books in January, including Ann Patchett’s Truth & Beauty, Jeannette Walls The Glass Castle, and Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing. I was blown away. For the first time in a long time, I spent one Sunday holed up on the couch, reading a book from cover to cover. I had rediscovered a childish delight in the characters and worlds that came alive in my head through words on the page. Continue reading “How Reading Books Inspired Me To Write”

Writing Class

When I first started writing again this year, I asked a couple of writer friends if they knew of any writing groups in Jackson. One suggested that I sign up for the creative non-fiction “community enrichment class” taught at Millsaps, Jackson’s local liberal arts college. I immediately went to the website and registered for the spring session of “Creative Non-Fiction: To Tell the Truth.”

The class meets for 6 sessions, Mondays from 6:30 to 8:00pm. The teacher of the class is a local writer. I Googled her name and read some of her essays that were published in the New York Times, Atlantic, and other major news outlets. She’s also done quite a bit of writing work in Mississippi, including producing a documentary about an influential Mississippi journalist. “She’s quirky as hell, which is what makes her so incredible,” my writer friend had said about this teacher. I was excited to meet her. Continue reading “Writing Class”