A pep talk from a friend.

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When I was writing this morning, I hit a mini-wall. I wasn’t blocked, I just didn’t go all the way through the portal. I was aware of time, which is always a clue that I’m out of flow.

I glanced at the note I’d scrawled for myself at the start of the month: Find it through the scene. Just write images.

Ugh — it wasn’t happening.

I’m still only in the second draft, so I don’t really know what my book is yet, or what the story wants to tell me. But I do know that it has a few friends that it likes to hang out with for fun and meaningful conversation.

Currently, those are:

Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

N. K. Jemisin, The City We Became

Jess Kidd, Things in Jars

I opened up Things in Jars at random and read a few paragraphs. I love the present tense narration and the extraordinary detail. The humour! Now, I’m not writing about ghosts, and I’m not writing a mystery. My characters aren’t funny. And my book is definitely not historical fiction.

On the surface, this novel and my novel-in-progress have nothing in common.

Yet their connection created a spark that lifted my own sentences. It gave me energy, like a pep talk from a friend.

Our writing has its own cliques, clubs, BFFs, and social circles. Some of these connections are lifelong friendships, and some shift and change depending on what we’re working on, or where we are in a draft.

Everything we read and write is relational, and exists within a context and a network. Building these connections on purpose strengthens our work and makes it more meaningful.

Like friends, books can mirror each other, support each other, and bring out what’s best in each other.

Think about the connections that your writing is making.

What qualities does your writing look for in a friend?

What qualities does your writing offer in its own friendships?

xo,


Photo credit (top): Dom J on Pexels

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4 comments

Barbara Black

I wholeheartedly agree with you that all the things (whether books, journals, reviews) we read feed back into our writing somehow, even if it's only sparking the delight of words. I call those elements my "allies." But I like your further idea of an entire network sort of cooperating in your creative life. I often look at visual art when I can't write, or simply wait for a character to speak or hold a scene in my head until a new action appears, movie-like, in my head. Thanks for this!
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Sarah Selecky

Yes Julie! I love Cherie Dimaline too, and her newest is on my to read list. I love the invitation to wild entanglement. <3
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Sarah Selecky

Hello Barbara! I haven't articulated books as "allies" but of COURSE they are. They support and protect and speak on our behalf. Thank you. xoxo
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Julie Gabrielli

I love this! Recently, I read Brian Doyle's "Mink River," then Cherie Dimaline's "Empire of Wild." Both sparked my love of language and encouraged me to let words entangle in unfettered ways - like the wild earth herself.
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