Inauguration Day: Fist of determination and bravery of spirit!

River danced, I cried and cheered and cut herbed scones into wedges. What a transformational Inauguration Day, which is impossible to sum up except to say that if I was writing flash nonfiction and could only share one thing about the entire Inauguration, it would be this: Lady Gaga at marker 2min40sec as shown right here:

Check out that fist of determination, that bravery of spirit!

Or, as our new President said, I believe this gesture depicts a way of “leading not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. This gesture from Lady Gaga, and this message from President Biden, are what I’m holding in my heart for 2021, with hopes that all of us can re-envision ourselves, our communities, and quite frankly, “this broken land” (Biden again). 

We need Lady Gaga’s fist in the air–not because we fight, but because we know precisely the right time and place to let our yearning shine forth. This is true for our writing, too. What sentence, what word, what image–and at precisely what place on the page–will most impactfully reveal our characters’ deepest yearnings? Where have we shown that about ourselves in our memoirs or essays? What craft tools will help us do this with grace and precision? Find your fist, people, and make sure it’s written into the moment your story needs it most.

This synergy between everyday living and everyday imagining is what keeps me close to my writing, even when I’m not at the desk. It’s not that everything I encounter could become my next short story or essay, rather, that my ability to lean into discovery feels fully present. I am just as ready to gain everything as I am ready to lose it; in other words–I trust the process. This is not a passive experience. As I said, it’s synergistic, full of give and take, full of paradox…just like a fist that doesn’t mean fight. A fist that means believe.

A paradox is nothing other than an invitation to discover, and discovery is what writing and revising are all about. Thankfully, they’re what living is all about, too. What I’m trying to get at is this idea that if we want to know how to improve our writing, and if we want to know how to improve our country, we have to be willing to live inside the moment where what’s already happened meets what’s longing to come forth. It’s all in that gesture, that fist; an expression of our past and a plea for the future.

So here’s to a New Year, a new Presidency, your new pages, your new revisions, and your new questions. Yep, you read that right. This wouldn’t be a message from me if it did not include questions about writing practice, life, and the connections between the two. I send fresh, provocative questions each month to my newsletter list, which is the best way to access more of my craft tips and resources.

Are you on my newsletter list? When you sign up, you’ll get my monthly questions and you’ll also receive the 5 S’s Applied to Story downloadable PDF.  I send emails approximately every month with mini craft essays, special notices, early-bird registrations, and announcements for subscribers only.  No spam, ever; and your email address is never shared. Sign up here.

Now, for those questions. Reply by contacting me here:

  • What lesson, mantra, or message is your equivalent of “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should?” Distill it to one sentence. Email me that sentence.
  • Think about a time in your life when writing helped you dig your way out of a tough spot. Once you got past the freewriting, the recklessness, the flurry…what did you know about yourself that you didn’t know before?
  • Make a list of everything you don’t have to believe anymore. Make it exhaustive, then look it over and combine, distill, ponder, add, subtract. Share one or two things from your list with me, if you’re inclined. (Example: I no longer believe that hard work has to be hard; hard work can be easy.)

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