Tag Archive: Writer Resources

Mar 05

The Healing Power of Stories

WHAT’S PLAYING: The PoliceWalking on the Moon

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been MIA for the past week. (If you didn’t notice, then keep it to yourself. It’ll just depress me.) The reason for my weeklong silence is that I was down with pneumonia. Way down. Like “temperature in the triple digits, followed by a day in the hospital” down. It pretty much sucked.

Recovery was a long and painful process. I felt weak, exhausted, and useless. Forget about writing or working out. It was all I could do to change my underwear every day. The first time I left my apartment to get the mail, it took me twenty minutes and two breaks so I could catch my breath.

Still, life goes on. I had fallen behind in work, school, and writing, and I wasn’t going to catch up by lying in bed all day.

So you can imagine how it felt when I woke up on the day I was scheduled to return to work and saw this.

That’s right. My first day back at work just happened to coincide with the first major snowstorm of 2012.

Talk about adding insult to injury.

So, instead of snuggling under a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea, I recuperated by driving over an hour and a half in the middle of a frigging blizzard. I’m from Mississippi folks. I have many talents, but driving in snow is not one of them. It usually involves me hunched over the wheel, squinting into the night, and creeping along at 30 mph for about a mile before I pull over to the side of the road to let other, more confident drivers pass. It’s a vicious cycle: drive for about a mile while cursing the weather, and then pull over so I can curse the people passing by, my job, and life in general.

So, add all that to a persistent cough and sore throat, and you can see why I haven’t felt up to writing anything.

By the time my workweek was over, I felt tired, empty, used up. All I wanted to do was go to bed and stay there for a month. Instead, I wrapped myself up in a blanket with a cup of tea and my favorite stuffed animal. (I was sick. Don’t judge me.) Then I did what I should have done a week ago.

I called my grandfather.

My grandfather is a professional storyteller with a voice like black velvet and a talent for fashioning worlds out of thin air. He’s also my own personal form of Prozac. I know that, no matter how bad things get or how stressed I allow myself to become, there is nothing that can’t be fixed – or at least made bearable – by just one hour of getting lost in the stories of our people.

I don’t know about you, but for me stories provide tonic for the soul and wisdom for the mind. The best thing in the world is knowing that I can make things better with just five simple words:

Amafo, tell me a story.”

(Thanks to everyone for his or her kind words during my illness.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2012/03/the-healing-power-of-stories/

Dec 02

Note to Self: Keep Moving Forward

WHAT’S PLAYING: The Pierces “Lights On”

“It does not matter how slow you go, so long as you don’t stop.”

Confucius

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, writing is hard. And, for me at least, it doesn’t get any easier. Sure, I’m a better writer now than I was a year ago, but the actual process of getting ideas out of my head and on to the page remains both frustrating and futile. For every page I write, I delete two. You do the math.

My problem is that I’m a perfectionist. The attention to detail that makes me a good chemist is anathema to creativity. I get caught up in the little things, debating comma placement instead of focusing on writing. I lose perspective. Then I lose patience. Finally, I lose the story.

Every word must be dissected, weighed, and measured by my internal critic before it can see the light of day. Let’s call her “Bitchy Jacqui” or “BJ”. (Insert pun of your choice *here*.) That nagging little “expletive” is forever reminding me that, no matter how good I might think a particular piece of writing is, it’s not good enough. I can’t seem to translate the images in my head to the written word. Not perfectly.

BJ does have a point. I’m not nearly as good a writer as I someday hope to be. I’m learning, and happy to be doing so, but still, there are so many stories I want to tell and my writing is just not good enough to pull them off.

At least, not yet.

I’m lucky enough to have a great mentor who also happens to be a fantastic writer. I’ve been promising to send him the first chapter of my novel for over a year now, and still haven’t done it. It’s not ready yet. It’s not perfect. I have nightmares in which he shows up at my door, waving pages and demanding why I wasted his time with such drivel. (I know. I have issues.)

Letting go of perfection isn’t easy for me. Do it right the first time is sort a battle cry for my profession. Let’s face it, if there’s any career where perfectionism is required, it’s nuclear power. That and the medicine.

The trick is having patience. With myself and with life in general. I know that my skills will grow with time and practice, and I’m putting in the necessary work to improve: taking classes, writing, reading, etc. I just have to give myself time.

What are you doing to bring you closer to your dreams? How are you moving forward? What motivates you to keep pushing for the life you truly desire?

Things won’t always work out the way I want. I can’t control that. What I can control is how I deal with setbacks.

I choose to move forward.

How about you?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jacquitalbot.com/2011/12/note-to-self-keep-moving-forward/