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The Magic of Winter
Winter is my favorite season. Today as I write, the wind is howling and the real feel is -31 degrees. My original intent was to send this newsletter on Wednesday, but there were technical issues. The winter solstice is always a celebration for me and this year it was even more special.
I have an app called READWISE that sends me my highlights from my Kindle reading. I often use these quotes as springboards for writing. The app randomizes my highlights and sometimes brings to mind a book I haven’t looked for in a long while in the daily email. I cannot browse my Kindle shelves like I do my real life bookcases. It is a different exercise.
Today I will dig into my saved sentences and share what comes up for me in some freewriting.
Here are four highlights sent to me and my reactions to them.
Deep Creek by Pam Houston
Whoever thinks they are going to start the largest fire in Colorado history? Nobody. But I have encouraged to write and to burn such a letter. I have been compelled, in the face of calamity, to tell a tiny, face-saving lie.
A woman who claimed her therapist told her to write a letter to an ex and then burn it accidently started one of the largest fires in CO and lied about it. I believe her daughter ratted her out. I have written letters that were full of emotion and never sent. It is a standard exercise of release. I like to burn papers to ceremonioulsy end their hold on me. I have a “Burn BAG” of paperwork in my writing space that is full of legal paperwork from the last 8 years of my life. I am looking forward to watching it go up in flames. What is it that is cleansing about fire? I think for me it is because it is GONE GONE. There is ash that is left and there is nothing recognizable anymore. It is a like a bad dream you don’t want to remember so you don’t write it down. When I was on my retreat in CO in August I had a nightmare and I wrote to myself in my notebook that I refused to write it down so it couldn't haunt me. I am thankful for that act of kindness to myself. I also think about burning down things in association with the Phoneix. I love these legends but I am done with burning my life down over and over.
The Souvenir Museum Elizabeth McCracken
Her actual heart found the door behind which her metaphorical heart hid; heart dragged heart from its bed and pummeled it.
The first thing that strikes me about this sentence is that it has a semicolon in it. I love a good semicolon and a great story by McCracken! She is one of the authors I want to study with in 2023.
The image of two hearts fighting fills me with glee for some reason. I often write about hearts in jars or made from materials hearts are not supposed to be made from. The idea of layered hearts intrigues me as well as identities like nesting dolls in people. I see an image of a pop up card from Valentine’s Day with a little door that opens and all the vulnerability spills out into this altercation between the two. In my vision, one is purple and the other is red.
Thunder and Lightning Natalie Goldberg
This process acts like a sifter-sand falls through and bright nuggets come to light.
First, I cannot spell the word “lightning”. It always looks wrong to me even when I do get it right. I love this book and am reading it for the second time in as many months. It will be part of a book study for Centered (Sarah Selecky’s community) and within my own PUSH writing groups.
Freewriting is an amazing practice that allows the sparkly bits of my brain to break through. Some sessions are full of more gems than others but it is always a worthwhile pursuit. I have been cooking a lot in 2022 so this metaphor works for me. My Oma used to cook and had a flour sifter. The only thing I remember her using it for is flour for gravy and powdered sugar for the plum torte she made. I have a recipe from Martha Stewart I have yet to try. I think it is fear that it won’t taste right if I make it and then fear that it will taste right and I will cry in my plum torte. I am trying to change my relationship with crying and just see it as a reaction to emotions rather than a weakness. I want to keep digging into the same topics over and over so I can get to the bright nuggets and not the run-of-the-mill commentary that I am conditioned to think first. Studying with Natalie twice this year changed me for the better and I am looking forward to seeing how my writing changes in 2023.
Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come Jessica Pan
Richard’s charisma advice fresh in my mind (ask questions, give meaningful responses, reinforce emotions)…
This book was a surprise read for me. It is a stunt memoir and full of laugh out loud moments. Jessica went to a man who taught her about charisma as the quote indicates and I am thinking about these three characteristics and what they look like for character development in my fiction. Personally, I try to ask questions when I am in a social situation. In fact, I will often leave the house with an unusual question to ask that I have rehearsed so I am not stuck in too much awkward silence. A few examples I have used in the past are:
What CD do you have in your car right now?
What imaginary life do you wish you lived? (Thank you Julia Cameron.)
What is your first reading memory?
I am genuinely interested in my conversation partner's responses if it is not small talk. Reinforcing emotions is not a strong suit of mine, however. I respond more to images or situations rather than emotions most of the time.
What is the relationship you have with your notes from reading? Do you save them in a particular way? How do you use them? I would love to hear in the comments!
My Substack is going to be changing for several reasons but the main one is that I got married on the Solstice and my name is changing. I am releasing the magic of 2022 and beginning again.