This morning I am sitting in a cold house waiting for the repairman to arrive. My furnace went out Saturday afternoon. Naturally. Whether it's us getting sick, or the functional machines of our homes getting sick, it always seems to happen on a weekend or a holiday. At least this isn't a three-day weekend because of a holiday! At any rate, I do love my fireplace right now.
Which got me thinking along the lines of something that has cropped up in my mind over and over recently: getting back to basics. It's the time of year when we reflect on how we want to change our lives for the better. Paring down to what really counts seems important. In my case, I'm also reflecting on basics because I'm neck-deep in developing a book set in the wilds of the Ohio River Valley in the late 1700s, which sort of defines 'back to basics' in terms of survival.
But I'm no mountain woman. That's not the kind of basics I'm after in my personal life. I got a small hint of that sort of living when I was little, and that seems to have been enough for me. Our family vacations were almost always camping and fishing. My father was devoted to that life. We're talking old-fashioned heavy canvas tents with the posts you have to pound into the ground (at least we had a tent); and the campfire, which you use to cook, also being the only source of heat at night, other than your clothes and your sleeping bag. To this day I believe that I could still not only catch fish if I wanted to (I did a lot of that back then), but I could gut and clean them with dispatch, and perfectly, because I watched my father do it expertly at the side of a fast-running creek so many times. These are things to know in the world of survival basics.
By age eleven I'd had it, though. No more peeing in the woods for me. No more fending off hordes of mosquitoes in camp or along a river, and no more getting lost in the forest. (I never did have anything resembling a sense of direction, and there were no cell phones back then. Sometimes it got a little dicey.) Fresh-caught trout cooked over an open campfire are delicious, but that was not enough. At age eleven I declared myself emancipated from the camping life. Ah, joy! Ah, modern plumbing!
Nonetheless, here I am, all these years later, appreciating the value of what I learned back then. Not only because I have a sense memory that I can now use to relate to what daily life must have felt like to the settlers and Native Americans in the 1780s (essential to what I'm writing about), but because having had that experience did imbue me with an awareness of the value of basics.
So, while I don't want to get rid of my nice home and car and microwave and iPhone (and I'm really looking forward to that repairman arriving to fix my furnace), for my New Year's Resolution, I am going for basics. Basics in writing. Paring down to what really counts: 1) time spent writing, and 2) time spent reading. These are the two things that are most important, I believe, to honing style, knowledge, competence and voice. The other basic thing we writers need, of course, is heart, which makes the difference between good and great writing. That's where the unknowable comes in, though, and we just have to go with what we we've got.
I can't see myself giving up conferences and social media altogether, but those things are getting prioritized way lower on the list of what's important. At least for now.
Have you been thinking about what you want to change in your writing life in 2013? Are you launching any wild and exciting or weird writing adventures to propel you into the year? Or reflecting on what would mean most to you and how to get there?
It's great to prioritize to what's important. I'm also thinking of cutting back a bit on my blogging to give more time to writing. And getting rid of some of the things in my house that I really don't need.ReplyDelete
It's hard to do, blogging is addictive and we love it! But when you feel ready to invest more in your actual writing, it's great to be able to focus on only that for long periods of time.Delete
Re-prioritizing life is a way of growing.ReplyDelete
I like that thought, LM, thanks.Delete
A beautiful post Linda. I am trying to figure out what is important too. Actually...I know. It's just doing something about it that's the key.ReplyDelete
I canceled my SFO writers conference. Trying to find balance in life and social media, too. Sometimes I want to run to the woods and hide. I'm actually contemplating backing out of many things this year, to slow down and write and read more.
I'm seriously thinking that I could just write for the next three years, and then focus on year four with social media and marketing. It's hard to do it all at the same time. Drives you crazy. Something always gives. I am also looking for people would would like to write for my blog, and link to theirs. This is what I did in my search of slowing down. http://tinyurl.com/ab6j9cg
We are definitely on the same page, Karlene, and I believe the idea of just writing (and reading) for three years, then devoting the fourth to social media and marketing, is a solid plan with a lot of potential for success. It feels like this year will bring a sea change to writers. The dust is beginning to settle from the sea change in publishing (tho, undoubtedly there's more to come), and writers may be looking at themselves and their goals anew.Delete
I love what you did in your search for slowing down. Expansion, but with different stripes--heh, that is SO you! It could work beautifully.
I have ZERO insulation in the house now and have to wait a month (we're almost there, thank goodness!) to get new insulation installed, so I am freezing too, if that's any consolation, LOL! Hope your furnace gets fixed soon.ReplyDelete
I totally agree--getting back to basics is a FAB idea!
I'm so sorry about the zero insulation, Laura! Maybe there should be a Huddled Up Sweatshirt/Sweatpants Soul Sisters group for people like us. :)Delete
I have, and will always, appreciate indoor plumbing and a mosquito-less existence. Just sayin'.ReplyDelete
A woman after my own heart! (Btw., if you ever have to contemplate moving to the west coast, one of the best things about it is there are hardly any flying insects!!!)Delete
Linda, great post. This is one of the reasons I think I like travelling so much. Reduced to just what you need, and sometimes less than what you need. It frees you up.ReplyDelete
Happy New Year to you!
What an excellent observation, Denise. I've always loved traveling for the freedom and openness to experiences it provides, and what you say totally makes sense to me. Oh, boy, another good reason to get on an airplane! (We're not allowed to spell traveling with two 'L's in the U.S. any more. I'm kind of jealous of you. As in seriously jealous.)Delete
I have actually! I've been thinking about it a lot and it's come down to evolution for me. Allowing my writing to become what it was meant to become. That means changing genres, growing in style and prose, and stepping out of my comfort zone. And I'm loving it!ReplyDelete
I love that so much, Heather! This will be brilliant for you. You are ready. I'm feeling much the same thing. A lifetime of loving/writing mystery, and suddenly I'm wanting more freedom to explore other genres. It's both scary and incredibly empowering.Delete
A beautiful post with some great tips! Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
Thanks for dropping by, Nas! It's always great to meet fellow-bloggers.Delete
HAPPY 2013! I has been ages! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday....
Basics.... What else do we REALLY need. Just like in a classic education - art, writing, music ... leaning the basic or CLASSIC ways is an excellent foundation for the modern. After all, ALL of modern society has spun off FROM the basic or classic.
What a lovely memory and post. SO real and sincere. Nothing stylized, hokey, glitzy, or anything to 'cover up' the simple values... Who says simple are basic is a bad thing? At times it's an necessity to CLEAR out the cobwebs and junk in our lives.
The past few months I "cleaned house." In creating my new writing space, I finally organized my LIFE from the eight years living in a one bedroom condo. Creating the new space opened up a NEW world for me and I am LOVING IT!
I know how much you love design, Linda, if you get a chance and drop by my blog .... if you scroll down a few posts, you will find my INSANE CHRISTMAS pics, which feature my new space.
This year I am getting back to pushing my craft, blogging like I used to and reading much more. I only read blog posts last year. SAD... So far this year I have read one book.... Hey, its's a start ... LOL.
ALL THE BEST FOR 2013!
Great to see you,Michael! I hope you had a good holiday, too. It sounds like you've cleaned house literally as well as metaphorically and are set for the new year. I'm headed over to your blog to see your new space. Oh, only blog posts last year???? That IS sad! 2013 will be better!Delete
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