What a Viewing of RBG Reinforced About Writing

RBG, the documentary on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, debuted in American theaters early last month, and I finally saw it this week. With a new friend. A new writer friend who is also a woman.

There are some unspoken rules for new friends. You generally don’t let them know how crazy your family is. You definitely don’t let them know if you’re a bit crazy yourself. It’s like dating. You may not want to cry in front of them. You bring your A-game, just as you would on the first few dates of a romantic relationship. I broke that seal a bit early when this friend messaged to confirm that we would be seeing the film that afternoon. “YESSSS. This is my first day having childcare after 10 days of not having the help. I am so ready.” New friends on our best behavior or not, she knew me a bit better after that.

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Woman Walk the Line: A Book About Creative Women for Creative Women

“Music, like water, often moves and shapes us without ever realizing it; let this be an opening for your own consideration.”
—Holly Gleason, from Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives.

Writers find inspiration everywhere, and music is no exception. In Woman Walk the Line, the impressive cast of twenty-seven women writers, artists, musicians, and music executives consider deeply the ways in which their country music heroines have shaped their own lives.

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The Five Truths of My Writing Process

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.

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I Don’t Really Write Happy Endings

It’s funny that my compulsion and decision to write came simultaneously with having children. The moment I lost control of my time, and my emotions started to run a little more wild is the moment I picked up the pen and paper. I took control of words in a way I didn’t feel like I could control my life anymore.

After the birth of my second child I decided to take a writing class. This soon turned into a writing practice that has become one of the driving forces in my life. Doing this while working full time and raising two children is not easy. There are times when the guilt I feel for deciding to take the time to write is overwhelming.

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Getting Naked

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but in 2018 I would really like to take my clothes off in front of a room full of strangers.

Slowly, in moments snatched between feeds, nappy changes, and coaching my four-year-old through her powerful emotions, I’ve been compiling a bucket list. Things I want to do for me, when there is a me again. As I’ve assembled the list, I’ve noticed a theme. They all involve exposing myself in public.

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I’m Writing! Even When It’s Harder.

“Being a doctor is hard. It’s harder for women.”

This is objectively true. They actually did a real scientific study. Because you know it isn’t true until someone puts a p value on it and calls it a statistic.

I am not sure whether it matters if it is “true” or not, or whether it is statistically significant or not. There will always be someone who argues against this. They will say being a doctor is hard for anyone who attempts it.

This is true.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there are not gradations of this thing, “hardness.”

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Interview with Short Story Contest Winner Wendy Lym

Writers and artists are all around us, y’all. In this case, Wendy Lym is a colleague and neighbor (her office is just down the hall from mine) at the community college where I teach. Since we’re also friends on social media, I learned that she won the Texas Observer’s 2017 short story contest with Muriel, and I knew I had to interview her about her off-campus life as a writer. Enjoy!
—Jen Hamilton

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Why We Write

I was going to write about self-care this week, and what a racket it is. But then the fires came and destroyed my hometown, and Harvey Weinstein was finally removed from his literal and figurative position on top of all of the women of Hollywood. I started to think about why we need to write.

Last time I wrote about giving ourselves permission to write. Now I find myself thinking about why we need to write in the first place, and why we have to remind ourselves of this every day.

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Conjuring Shakespeare’s Sister

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.

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Write About It, If You Dare

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ― Oscar Wilde

Write about it.

Want to be liked? Get ready to relegate yourself to last place. Get ready to spend your hours studying what pleases people and then more minutes, hours, days to dedicate your life to doing that, the thing everyone likes. Last-place-people work hard. The pathological need for external approval is silencing us.

Write about that pathology.

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