Marathon Writer, Writer's life, Writing

Marathon Writer — Book Shelf 2 of 12

One thing I want to do this year is build an essential bookshelf of resources that mean a lot to writers. This is the second in the series. In January, we looked at books that first got us seriously interested in writing, and why they had that effect on us.

Since February contained Valentine’s Day, this blog is about books we fell in love with during the past 12 months. What non-fiction books have we read in the last twelve months that we absolutely loved? What motivated us, consoled us, made us better people, or helped us realize we were fine, just as we were?

My personal non-fiction breakthrough book in the past year was Susan Cain. Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. Broadway Book, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-307-35215-6.

I know we’re talking about books, but if your to be read stack is as big as mine and you don’t think you’re going to get to Quiet any time soon, here is Susan’s 2012 TED Talk about the same topic. It’s 19 minutes long and well worth watching.

I gained a lot of helpful, workable information from this book. It helped me aim for a, literally, quieter week. I’ve decreased or stopped patronizing stores and eating places that are noisy. The quieter a business is, the less likely they are to have blaring background music, the more I’ll go there. Our meals now begin with five minutes of silence, so that we can concentrate on the food, and on being with one another. In addition to tea breaks during the day, I also take quiet breaks.

I also learned about two works myths that need busting.

Two work myths

1) Brainstorming — invented in the 1940s/1950s by Batten, Barton, Durstine, and Osorn (BBDO) founder Alex Osborn — doesn’t work, and in fact, is counterproductive. Data has been available since 1963 to debunk brainstorming, but we’ve not been listening. What works instead is when a person, alone in a quiet environment, has time to think about a problem and possible solutions. Group work happens after the quiet work. It’s not the usual brainstorming session of throwing uncensored ideas into a pot, but of each person having time to present their ideas, along with a summary of the pros and cons of the solutions.

2) In 1993, Anders Erricson proposed that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to get really good at something. I turns out that it’s not the number that important, it the way practice is done. The most rewarding practice hours are spent alone, in a quiet environment, in serious study and experimentation. A recent Forbes blog talked more about this.

Being quiet isn’t the same thing as being shy or being an introvert. All people, from the shyest to the most gregarious, need silence. They just need it in different amounts and at different times.

The sweet spot for quietness is a place of balanced stimulation. It is different for every person and different for the same person in different situations. Unfortunately, we live in a one size fits all myth. Everything from the size and design of hotel conference chairs to 50-minute class periods to music played in malls and restaurants is out of an individual’s control. We are desperately in need of a “Quiet Now” movement.

Quietly now, tell us what non-fiction books have meant a lot to you lately.

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Marathon Writer, Tips, Writer's life, Writing

Marathon Writer – Build a Bookcase — 1 of 12

Writers must read.

We read writers who are in our market niche, because these are often the kind of books we most enjoy. And, it pays to know what the competition is up to.

We read writers who, because of the topic or complexity of writing, write far outside our comfort zone because we need at least a nodding acquaintance with the full writing spectrum.

A word of caution here.

The captain of the Titanic didn’t need to see the entire iceberg to know he had a problem. ~Denise Tiller, mysery writer

If a book deals with too much violence or graphic subjects, don’t feel compelled to read the entire thing. Start at the beginning and read until the first disturbing detail is reached. Once, for me, that was the third sentence. I knew, at that point, that continuing to read would do me more harm than good.

We read great writers because it’s a pleasure to see how well the craft can be done, and we read lousy writers because it’s also a good idea both to see how badly the craft it is done, and to console ourself that we write lots, lots better than that.

One thing I want to do this year is build an essential bookshelf of books and other references that mean a lot to writers. The blog on the last Tuesday of every month will be Build a Bookcase.

This month, let’s start with what was the first book that got us seriously interested in writing? And why?

Mine was Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, published in 1986.

By the time I read Writing Down the Bones, I’d been hobby writing for twenty-four years. I’d churned out short stories, some rather regrettable fan fic, and at least two complete novels (neither published to this day, thank goodness). I’d kept a journal for eight years. I’d even gotten a degree in English/Creative Writing. And I was pretty sure that I’d nailed this writing thing.

Boy, was I in for a surprise. For me, this book cracked open the difference between writing and living a writing life. I realized I had to stop writing behind closed doors, and start writing in cafes and other public places. I had to find some writing partners. I had to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I had to learn to allow flow to happen, back and forth, between writing and living. And, a whole bunch of other things that I’m still learning and polishing today.

This is one of three books that I still keep close at hand, in a little wooden box, less than a foot away from my keyboard, just in case I need a quick refresher.

What book got you started on seriously writing?

Going back to the Marathon Writer — Spiral Effect that I started the year with four weeks ago, here’s a followup on why sitting and writing is a bad idea. In the past week, the longevity columnist on CBC Calgary Drive Home – why sitting is bad for us gave the best summary I’ve heard so far about why sitting is so bad for us. It’s 7 minutes, 20 seconds long.

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Marathon Writer, My point of view, Tips, Writer's life, Writing

Marathon Writer – To Do or Not To Do?

To-do List Myth

We put items on a list in order to get them done.

To-Do List Reality

The more things on a list, the more things that are never completed. The longer the list, the greater the guilt, and guilt is a strong de-motivator.

We say we put things on our to-do list so we can get them done, but in reality, we’re know one of three outcomes is likely

  • We get the item done.
  • So much time passes that the item becomes irrelevant and we cross it off the list.
  • The item remains on our list for a long time, generating guilt and convincing us we are ineffective, bad people

Feeds and Seeds

To-do lists are made up of feeds and seeds. These terms were coined by Douglas Rushkoff, in Present shock : when everything happens now. Feeds aren’t a problem; seeds are. It’s important to recognize the difference.

Feeds are temporary

  • The United Fund Campaign closes at 3:00 PM on Friday. If we’ve already made a donation or don’t plan to, we basically don’t care.
  • Feeds don’t stack. By 4:00 PM on Friday, that message is off our to-do list.

Seeds stack

  • Seeds are spring-loaded and often generated by other people.
  • They send us e-mails, assign us tasks, or have expectations for our help and cooperation. Each time we get a seed message, we open a loop on our to-do list. That loop remains open until we’ve done the required task.
  • Every unanswered question and every task we haven’t yet completed stays in the most active part of our brain, waiting for an answer.  We open more loops in one hour than our grandparents opened in several weeks.
  • Seeds stack. Right now I’m carrying about 50 seeds on my to-do list, and I suspect I’m at the low end of the scale. Many people have over 200 loops open; some have over 500.

Unwind the Spring-Loaded Seeds

The biggest thing we need to do with seeds is unwind the spring-loading someone else applied and re-load it so it works for us. Opening an e-mail isn’t a commitment to do something; it’s a chance to assess what is being asked of us. Instead of grabbing a pen and adding Read article Carmine sent me for Tuesday’s meeting, to my to-do list, what I really need to do is an assessment.

  • The article is twenty-seven pages long.
  • Carmen has no idea what my workload is like between now and Tuesday. Essentially, she’s put the ball in my court and I am conditioned to value her spring-loading over my need to control my own time.
  • If I give this situation any thought at all, I console myself that the meeting is next Tuesday, and not thirty minutes from now.

What are my choices?

  • Look at my calendar and see if I have a block of time to read a twenty-seven page article.
  • Ask Carmen exactly how this article relates to Tuesday’s meeting. If she says it will be a large part of the afternoon’s discussion, then I’m going to have to find time to read it; but if she says that she’s planning to use the 3 principles in the sidebar on page 19 as a discussion guide, then I know I can get by with a lot less reading.
  • Negotiate a mutually-agreed spring-reloading with Carmen. This includes letting go of some tasks.

Seeds Take Time

The next biggest thing we can do for ourselves is remember that each seed, each loop, each to-do item, whatever we want to call them, is a time commitment. Look up Alice’s new Zip code takes less than 5 minutes. Repaint the bathroom takes an entire weekend, maybe longer.

It may help to add a time element to an entry. Look up Alice’s new Zip code (5 minutes). If we see we have several less than 5 minute items, we can group them together and get them done all at once. Or if we have that bathroom to paint, maybe we need to pick the weekend we plan to do it.

Also, it helps to break down big jobs, like the bathroom, into the first small step. Instead of reminding ourselves to Repaint the bathroom, how about reminding ourselves to Measure bathroom walls, so we’ll know how much paint to buy?

Personalize our Lists

The third thing we can do is make our to-do lists fit our personality. Some people go gaga over a slick black leather notebook, pristine white paper, and a premium fountain pen. Other people like colors, doodling, and silly messages to ourselves. If you’d like to see some cool things people are doing with their to-do lists, I recommend checking out the Google + community, The Bullet Journal.

My to-do list? Electronic all the way. iCal with 20 color-coded categories and as many automatic repeating reminders as I can build in. For my permanent records, a PDF copy of the previous month saved at the beginning of the next month.

One of the things I’d like us to do this year is build a bookshelf of books we’ve found helpful getting us into writing and keeping us there. I’m devoting the last Tuesday of each month to building that bookshelf. Next Tuesday, January 27, I’m focusing on the first book. I’ll tell  you which book got me into serious writing, and why. See you then.

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Marathon Writer, Writer's life, Writing

Marathon Writer – The Spiral Effect

Three times in my life I’ve chosen to see a health care professional about why and how my life had gotten off track. The last time I said to the woman, “I dealt with this issue when I was in my twenties, and in my thirties. Why do I have to deal with it again now?”

She said, “Because life is a spiral. It only seems like you’re coming back to the same problem. In fact, you’re coming back to a different, more complicated problem because you bring with you all that you learned since the last time you worked on this.”

That’s why the same questions plague us as writers decade after decade.

  • Am I really a writer?
  • Can I make a living at writing?
  • What do I do next?

Are we really writers?

If we are recording words with the intention of telling a story, then yes, we are writers. There’s a reason that screenwriter and teacher Robert McKee titled his writing guide simply Story. Story is the heart of writing. When nothing seems to be working, story becomes our refuge, the place we turn to, as the late singer and songwriter Stan Rogers said, “like a child to home whenever darkness comes.”

Can we make a living at writing?

That one is far more difficult to answer. I’ve heard a lot of high numbers — 75%? 80%? More%? — bantered around by industry professionals about how big a role pure luck plays in a lucrative writing career. Sadly, most of us will never be able to quit our day jobs, so what we learn to do instead is juggle time for writing, running a business, doing our day job, living in a family, having friends, and the whole rest of the world.

Here’s the absolute bottom line: there are 168 hours in a week. We aren’t getting any more, so let’s work on making something of what we already have.

What do we do next?

Here’s the first aid kit that every writers need. You’ve probably seen this list before, but have you thought about it being at the heart of being a writer? When we start to spin out of control, we need to do 6 things.

Stop

This is a quote that marked a turning point in my writing. I realized I could not keep going at the pace I was going and continue to be a writer. I had to make a choice between learning to slow down and quitting writing. I’m still writing.

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence, and that is activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of this innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone and everything is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace, because it kills the root of the inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.

~ Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968), Catholic writer, Trappist monk, priest, poet, social activist. and student of comparative religion

Breathe – libraries and the Internet are full of resources about breathing and breathing meditations. Learn the basics and practice them

Drink water – even a 2% dehydration, not enough to make us thirsty, reduces concentration and creativity.

Get enough sleep – The National Geographic program Sleepless in America  says that 40% of people in North America don’t get enough sleep. That figure is rising.

Eat healthy and exercise – do I really need to explain these?

We are always spiralling either up or down. There is no standing still. I vote for spiralling up.

Hope to see you back next Tuesday, January 20, for What to do about those pesky To-Do Lists.

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Marathon Writer, Writer's life, Writing

Marathon Writer — Reentering

A New Year, A New Blog Theme

Welcome to 2015. We spent last year writing a novel, one step at a time, from Theme Statement to Archiving the Manuscript.

Non writers have the mistaken idea writing takes up all of a writer’s time. All we have to do is string together enough words to make a book, play, or short story; edit those words; and bang, we’re done.

We writers know a different tale. To quote myself, and writer/counsellor Claudia McCants

Writing is a marathon. Warm up, write, cool down. Eat right. Drinks water. Exercise for stamina, balance, and staying power. ~Sharon Wildwind, mystery writer

What gets in my way when I’m writing? I think the question really is, What doesn’t? ~Claudia McCants, mystery writer, and Christian counsellor

When we are in this writing game long-term, we learn to be on intimate terms with qualities like balance, persistence, patience, reinvention, and most of all, hope. Our journey this year will explore what gets in our way as writers and ways that some writers have found around those things.

Look out world, here we come

Yesterday was the 12th day of Christmas; today is Little Christmas, or the Christian feast of the Epiphany. In other words, the December holidays are over for another year. At our house, the last 12 days had some good things, and some not so good. Frankly, I am exhausted. I need a holiday to recover from the holidays, but hey, it’s already January 6th, and I am SO, SO far behind.

Fortunately, last year I came across some very sage advice from a woman named Jennifer Louden. She says whenever people, particularly women, are faced with moving from a vacation, holidays, or time off back into the swing things, we tell ourselves six lies, in essence that we have to

  • reenter life full speed
  • punish ourselves for having the audacity to have had a good time
  • do an immediate self-make over
  • put all those good times completely out of sight, and out of mind
  • acknowledge that we are failures because we took a break
  • put everyone else first because we’ve been terribly selfish to do something good for ourselves

Here’s Jennifer’s blog about how to gracefully reenter our life after taking time away. Reading what she has to say is a great way to start this new year.

Here’s the question for this week: what’s the hardest thing to overcome when coming back from the holidays?

Next week, January 13th, I’ll have thoughts on The Spiral Effect or why do the same issues plague us decade after decade?

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Art, I made this, Maker

Art I Love – Knitted Hyperbolic Plane Headband

Years ago, my husband and I attended a panel about living with a writer. One of the participants said he has a writing hat. When he wore the hat, his spouse wasn’t allowed to interrupt him unless she was closely followed by a fireman with an ax and a need to evacuate the building.

Thus began the hat tradition in our house.

  • My writing hat is a purple fedora with a yellow band, saying Police Line Do Not Cross around the crown. The same rules about the fireman apply when I’m wearing this hat.
  • My playwriting hat is a crocheted yellow, orange, and lime green African kufi hat, with crocheted butterflies. Don’t ask why, crochet, butterflies and wild colors seemed appropriate at the time.
  • My maker’s hat is a pink engineer’s cap with Thomas the Engine and Proud to be an Engineer on the front.

Doing the household accounts is my least favorite thing. Going digital has helped, but not much. I decided I needed a hat, or rather a headband a la 1920s style to wear when I was dealing with numbers. A few years ago a mathematician at Cornell University did some work on crocheting hyperbolic planes. Here’s the link. So here’s my hyperbolic headband, designed to concentrate math rays into my brain.

2014-11-07 HyperbolicPlane

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Maker, Writer's life

Level Thinking – Polymaths and Imaginary Worlds

Michelle and Robert Root-Bernstein — he’s a physiologist and she’s an independent scholar in creativity studies — first came to my attention in 2009, when they were part of an interdisciplinary group studying creativity at Michigan State University. This research shed light on children and early creativity.

Who were these people?

  1. Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer
  2. Dian Fossey
  3. Leonardo da Vinci

Most people would peg Dr. Oppenheimer as a scientist, or mention his connection with atomic bomb research. But it would be equally correct to say that he was a student of Greek architecture and classic civilization, art, and literature.

Before Dian Fossey studied gorillas, she was an occupational therapist.

Leonardo is hardest to pin down. Scientist? Mathematician? Engineer? Inventor? Anatomist? Painter? Sculptor? Architect? Botanist? Musician? Writer? Let’s call him a polymath, which describes a person knowledgeable in many areas.

What the Root-Bernsteins and their group discovered was that the degree to which children create the details of imaginary worlds can be an early clue to which of them will become polymaths as adults. Polymaths tend to become very, very good at what they do.

All children create imaginary worlds and unseen friends, but not all do it to the degree of J. R. R. Tolkein. He began practicing the creation of Middle Earth as a very young child. He was reading by age four, writing by five, and before he had begun his formal schooling, his mother taught him botany, Latin, and foreign languages. Throughout his childhood he took notes on all the places he visited; drew maps; invented flora, fauna, and languages; and probably spent more time in Middle Earth than he did at home.

Looking back, one thing I value from my childhood is that my mother believed in classes, even if she and I didn’t always agree on what the class should be. I wanted tap-dancing; she put me in ballet because it was more lady-like. China painting was a disaster, we won’t even go there, but I did manage to wangle a few ceramics classes. And no matter how much I pleaded, never, ever music because she’d had a horrible experience taking piano lessons as a child.

What these classes had in common is that I was forced to face the empty dance floor, the pristine china plate, or the amorphous clay lump. I learned at an early age to start anywhere because the first few attempts would go by the wayside as the real work began to emerge.

Those classes also fed the imaginary worlds that constantly spun out of my head. The garden creatures who lived in our back yard, under the fig tree, danced ballets in the moonlight, even if a few of them remained miffed that they weren’t allowed to tap dance. Drawing class turned into maps. Other classes segued—often by very complicated and tortuous journeys— into codes, ciphers, secret messages, puppet-kings, costumes, hand-decorated menus for special celebrations, high drama, and low comedy. Never a hand-painted china set, though. People in my imaginary kingdom were forced to content themselves with lop-sided ceramic bowls.

Later in life I learned I could go back and pick up those missed things from childhood. I took my first music lesson at age 30. I was never accomplished at music, but I had a devil of a good time and even wrote one small original composition, about 3 lines long. The instrument I took up was the bagpipe. Maybe there is something to be said for getting what you want to do out of your system before turning 30 because goodness knows what decisions you’ll make for yourself when you’re old enough to decide for yourself.

I recommend that every writer sign up for classes, preferably ones where the students start with a blank something. A empty stage. A clean piece of paper. A length of cloth. A chunk of wood. An untuned instrument. Something where you can start with the most basic of skills and build from there. It will do wonders for your writing. And if you’d like to come to my place for show-and-tell, the garden creatures and I usually have tea about four in the afternoon. Bring your tap shoes.

Michelle Root-Bernstein has a new book out this year, Inventing Imaginary Worlds, from Childhood to Adult Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences. Check out that book and her website about imaginary worlds.

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Art, I made this, Maker

Art I Love — a folder to hold notes and other things

Two years before I retired, I said to myself, “It took four years in university to prepare for my career. What are the chances I need two years to get ready to leave my career?” Since the answer to myself was that sounded like a great idea, I started on a self-study mission.

Since I’m a highly touchy-feely learner, I process information much better if I take notes. The notes accumulated. I had printed, stapled information all over the place. Since I was also learning to do pamphlet binding at the same time, I decided to make each set of notes into a booklet.

Then the booklets accumulated. They were peeking out of other books, lost on shelves, and one was even found at the bottom of a laundry basket—I think I’d taken it to the laundromat to read while washing clothes. Then I decided to make a booklet folder. This is the result.

Since I’ve managed to fill this folder, it’s about time to make a second one.

For the makers in the group: art board base for front, back, and spine; covered with quilt batting and cotton fabric; machine and hand embroidery; pages Arches watercolor paper, folded at bottom to make a pouch; sections sewn into spine; edges of pouches closed with decorative paper; and strap with button to hold closed.

Front of folder

Front of folder

Side of folder, showing pamphlets inside

Side of folder, showing pamphlets inside

Open folder showing two of the pamphlets I made

Open folder showing two of the pamphlets I made

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Art, I made this

Art I Love — Cross-Stitched RCMP Emblem

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emblem

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emblem

I said to myself, “Cross-stitch: How hard could it be? After all it’s just a lot of identical stitches, one after the other.” As it turned out, about 2,500 identical stitches, an 11.5″ x 13″ design worked on 18 count linen canvas. 5 years of my life. My first cross-stitch piece, and certainly my last on this scale. A lesson in persistence, driven forward by how much I loved the colors, and my conviction that a needle and DMC embroidery floss weren’t going to get the better of me. Sometimes we just have to plow through to the end.

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Art, Journaling, My point of view, Tips, Writer's life

Level Thinking – What Older Creatives Need

The late Dr. Gene Cohen is one of my heroes because he was part of a movement that’s redefining aging in a positive light.

A year before he died, I had the pleasure of watching a video feed of Dr. Cohen, then Director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University speak at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. His talk was part of the cathedral’s Sunday Forum series. These talks are archived, so you’re interested learning more about Dr. Cohen or in seeing this feed yourself, given below are two links.

Dr. Cohen proposed that, from about our forties to the end of our lives, four things happen to make us view the world differently.  During his talk, I had one of those wonderful ah-ha moments when the world suddenly made more sense.

Mid-Live Reevaluation

The first phase he described was mid-life reevaluation, which starts in our forties and lasts, more or less until our mid-sixties. And boy, has this time of life gotten a bad rap, under the header mid-life crisis. Think of all the jokes about men with red sports cars and hair transplants, or women with plastic surgery and toy-boys. Sisters, that ain’t what it’s about at all.

As creative people, we’re familiar with the right-brain, left-brain idea, the notion that most of us have a dominant hemisphere. When younger people do activities that stimulate whichever side of their brain is dominant, they feel more in their comfort zone. But, according to recent neurological research, what begins in our forties is that both hemispheres begin to, literally, think together.

New brain cells are created. Existing brain cells develop more synapses—imagine all those people milling about independently in Times Square on New Years Eve suddenly holding hands. And those synapses, in large numbers, begin to connect the right and left sides of our brain. We are on our way to becoming whole-brain thinkers.

This is where I had my ah-ha moment.

How many times have you heard someone say, “The older I get, the more time it takes me to do something?” This statement, inevitably, has a negative connotation. Getting older. Slowing down. Decreasing mental and physical faculties. The inevitable winding down of the car engine or the clock, to use two physical objects used as metaphors for aging.

Yes, there is a physical component to aging and, as a society, we have thankfully crossed beyond that mental barrier that once said all older people will inevitably grow physically weaker until they can no longer manage even simple tasks. So we’re out there pounding the pavement, or taking aerobics classes, or doing Pilates and yoga, etc. And still it takes us longer to do things as we get older.

It takes us longer to do things because, beginning in our forties and lasting the rest of our lives, our brains come to tasks working in a way that is more holistic, more whole-brain, more multi-focused. And, like baking multi-grain bread, which takes longer to bake than white bread, that way is healthier, more artistic, and more satisfying. In a world where nano-seconds are considered a reasonable measure of time, taking longer has a bad, bad reputation.

Liberation

The second phase that Dr. Cohen described was liberation. It begins in the mid-fifties and goes to somewhere in the mid-seventies, though for all of these phases, there is no hard and fast end point.

Liberation is a change in consciousness: “If not now, when?” “What can they do to me?” Raise your hands, all of you who—like me—took up serious something sometime after you qualified for the “Over 55” menu at Denny’s. For me it was serious writing and art.

Summing Up

The third phase was summing up, and it comes to the forefront in the mid-sixties to mid-seventies. People become more interested in philanthropy, in volunteerism, and in conflict resolution. This is the time many of us think about writing memoirs, or taking that special trip back to a place that marks a significant event in our lives.

Encore

The final phase is éncore, in the French sense, so let’s use the French spelling, as in pas éncore (not yet), or éncore un peu (just a little more, just a little longer), or Quoi éncore? (What else?) It’s the grown-up equivalent of “Can’t I play just a few minutes more?”

Dr. Cohen finished by saying that for most of our lives, we were nudged along. Parents expected children to do better. Peers influenced teen-agers in ways that parents and teachers could only dream of. We nagged our spouses, “It’s for your own good, dear.”

The older we get, the less people nudge us. Too old, they think. Slowing down. Takes them longer to do things. Not interested in new things. Not really keeping up. Living in a shrinking world. So sad, so why remind them of their frailties. Stop trying to nudge them along.

I think that you and I, as writers, as creative people, and as friends, have this absolutely sacred task not only to develop our own creativity, but to continue to nudge one another along in all creative areas. Forever. Éncore un peu.

“I attended a major retrospective exhibit of fifty years of folk art. Of the 20 artists featured in the catalogue, 12 of them, 60%, did their first piece of folk art over the age of sixty-five; and 6 of them, 30%, did their first piece of folk art over the age of eighty-five.” ~Dr. Gene Cohen (1944-2009), gerontologist, teacher, author

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