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Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dillard’s Writing Life

In Book Reviews on October 28, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I picked up Annie Dillard’s book, The Writing Life, as a recommendation from a friend.  That is the nature of most books we read, I suppose.  We thewritinglifeheard from someone or other that this was a ‘good’ book.  I think some books find us at the right time.  This was one of those books for me.

The humor and personal tales drew me into Dillard’s personal narrative.  I enjoy being ushered into the writer’s quirky world, whether a small isolated wood shop or a remote island.  Her re-counting of solitary ventures were not altogether lonely; because, she was inviting me into them.  Her writing ushered in a vast crowd of friends – if transported only through the written word.  I laughed at how much she resisted writing – the tension between distraction and wonder.  She would be wondering over a word and then admiring a bug in the corner of the room.  I have many of those ‘Oh, look a bird’ moments (where my attention goes elsewhere).

The emotional impact of this book hit me toward the end of the fifth chapter.  All the personal stories and anecdotal sequences introduced the rigor and challenge of writing.  About the artist, she observes, “Who but an artist fierce to know – not fierce to seem to know – would suppose that a live image possessed a secret?”  As a writer, curiosity about the world is key; and listening.  Secrets suggest mystery.

Dillard delivers a line in Chapter 5 that hung with me throughout the marathon a few weeks ago:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time.  Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now.”

The last six miles of the run, I kept thinking “Give it all, Give it now”.  In my mind/heart, this line linked endurance sports and writing.  Perseverance and suffering are results of both pursuits.  It may not be the most strategic running advice; but, for this novice, it worked great.

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Marathon Momento – Focus on the Finish

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2009 at 5:38 pm

Four months of training for the Chicago marathon, introduced me to the runner’s world:  five am wake-up calls, diet monitoring, Glide – body lubricant, shorts with zippers and fuel-tank elastic bands for storing Gel packets.  Race-day welcomed me into all kinds of interesting observations.  What do runners do when all the porto-potties have 100 ft lines before  a race?  How do you dress for 30 degree weather?  What do you do with your warm-up clothes when the race begins?  When is it appropriate to pee in public?  Shouldn’t a runner dressed as the grim reaper be running at the back of the pack?  I’d like to take a couple of posts to share the most significant reflections that I took away from the race.

Focus on the Finish – Not the Crowd

I jumped the fence into the starting corral at about 7:17am.  I was still 600 yards from the gate where the race begins.  Each runner – from the two hour Kenyan crew to the six hour trotters – had a chip attached to their shoe laces to measure when they crossed the start line.  For those at the back of the starting corral, it took as long as 1 hour for the crowd to filter through to the start line. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lotus-Eaters

In Poetry on October 22, 2009 at 8:00 pm

I woke up this last week with the name ‘Tennyson’ on my mind.  After reading over several of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poems, I came across this gem.  I found the poem more interesting while reading it aloud.  Check out the language; can you relate to being lulled into indifference, apathy and complacency?

The Lotus-Eaters

“Courage!” he said, and pointed toward the land,
“This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon.”
In the afternoon they came unto a land
In which it seemed always afternoon.
All round the coast the languid air did swoon,
Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.
Full-faced above the valley stood the moon;
And like a downward smoke, the slender stream
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem. Read the rest of this entry »

In Between Employment: From Certainty to Discovery – Part III

In Eclipse on October 20, 2009 at 3:38 pm

With recent unemployment rates spiking to ten percent, many job seekers have adopted the question, “Why did this happen to me?”  Times of my job searching have been filled with frantic behaviors, compulsive online applications, disregarding positions for paychecks and choosing shallow reading over research.  Some people may find themselves unemployed and desperately seeking their next position.  Others of you may be in a job and would like to create a plan to start something new.  In this series of posts, I will share movements that can transform us in the job search process.

From Certainty to Discovery

As I have stepped into writing, I have found that a major deterrent is the uncertainty of what will come of my writing.  Will anyone read it?  Do I have what it takes as a writer?  I tend to want certainty; knowing how it will turn out.  This is the nature of many creative pursuits, and, I would venture to say, the nature of Calling.  We are often called to a place that we have never seen (E.g. a new career, a new employer, a new set of coworkers).  We are often called into uncertainty, rather than certainty.  Let’s look at ways that we try to harness uncertainty. Read the rest of this entry »

In Between Employment: From Inaction to Momentum – Part II

In Eclipse on October 19, 2009 at 11:40 am

With recent unemployment rates spiking to ten percent, many job seekers have adopted the question, “Why did this happen to me?”  Times of my job searching have been filled with frantic behaviors, compulsive online applications, disregarding positions for paychecks and choosing shallow reading over research.  Some people may find themselves unemployed and desperately seeking their next position.  Others of you may be in a job and would like to create a plan to start something new.  In this series of posts, I will share movements that can transform us in the job search process.

From Inaction to Momentum

The past couple of days I have been resisting writing this post.  Ironic, that the shift we are considering here is going from Inaction to Momentum!  Funny, how the very things I desire, I can also resist.  Can you relate?  Maybe you are looking for employment or considering a change of employment.  Whichever the case, putting the ‘flesh-and-bones’ on your dream requires action.

“Hello!?!” A voice yelled at me on the other end of the line.  My coach and I were talking about the actions I would need to reach my financial goals in the upcoming months.  Actually, he was talking.  I was piecing together my options like a puzzle.  “What’s it going to take…for you to know what you are committed to?” he repeated.  Paralysis set in.  I had expressed doubt about my current course.  My lack of action reflected no course at all.  Read the rest of this entry »