The writing is not happening. Even though I try not to get caught up in the New Year’s resolution “live your best life” hoopla, every January I still secretly think maybe this is the year I will finally get my shit together. But here’s the thing about shit: it likes to spread itself around and stink up everything. And once it gets into the carpet, well, it’s never coming out. Too much? Right, too much. My point is, I will never have my shit together because life is messy and unpredictable and I have to learn to deal with it. (A zen master I am not.) However, I’m not a victim of circumstance either. I can buy some bleach and get a new carpet. What I need to do first is get real about my writing process and what I need in order to make the writing happen. So I made a list, and I’m sharing it with you here because the Internet loves lists almost as much as cat videos and trolling.
Here at Fixin’ To Write we often discuss what we are reading, what we want to be reading, and share book recommendations, so now that we are at the end of our first year of writing here in this space it seems only fitting to share our favorite books of 2017 with you. Not all of these books are new, but they are the ones that engrossed and moved us this year. The list includes something for every reader: fiction, memoir, poetry, and books on writing and health. Whether you are looking for something to read over the holiday weekend or looking for a last minute gift for the avid reader on your list we hope you find what you are looking for on our list. Happy New Year from all of us at Fixin’ To Write!
Last month Jessica wrote about her struggle to read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. She never did make it through the whole text—and unless you are the worst kind of nerdy English major, it is a tedious read. Nevertheless, she found that in her middle age she had gained an appreciation for Woolf’s central point:
A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write.
Because I am that worst sort of English major—one who attended a small liberal arts college in the countryside and lazed away the hours in the local cafe reading, drinking black coffee, and smoking cheap cigarettes—Jessica’s post inspired me to try and reread Woolf’s treatise. I wanted to see if my 43 year old writing self would respond to her arguments differently than did my 20 year old self.
For several years I have been working on versions of an essay titled “Why I Quit School,” and now it has become my memoir project. From the moment I stepped into my kindergarten classroom to the moment I walked out of my university office for the last time, I’ve had a tortured relationship with formal education. Instinctually, I knew its obsession with compliance, uniformity, and competition was antithetical to real learning and growth, but I couldn’t keep myself from participating, from trying to show my classmates and teachers I could could excel within the system while giving it the finger at the same time. At times I succeeded, but ultimately the battle I was waging exhausted me and I had to walk away.
I have learned an important writing lesson this summer: it’s impossible to write in your spare time. It is impossible because spare time is a myth.
Check back on July 6 for our first post on the challenges of writing while female.