On Having All the Answers

"I didn't have all the answers; I didn't even know all the questions." - Karen Cushman, author | BetterThanMore.comKaren Cushman, author of the Newberry-winning young adult novel Catherine, Called Birdy, did not start writing until she was 49 years old. She just never thought of writing as a career opportunity, or at least did not picture herself in that role. In an author’s note from her book’s 20th anniversary edition, she writes, “Writers, I began to think, were people who had all the answers. I didn’t have all the answers; I didn’t even know all the questions.”

I read Cushman’s book for the first time a few months back, and her words struck me mostly because they spoke to a topic I have been considering quite a bit as of late: having all the answers. And not just having them, but also seeking them, craving them, doubting them, and why the heck we want them in the first place.

I’ve thought, “I should write a blog post about this,” more than once during the past several months, but something kept stopping me. I didn’t have all the answers, even the answers about the answers themselves. And like Cushman, most days I don’t even know all of the questions.

I know in my gut that searching for answers is a universal human experience, as is the phenomenon that I like to call “analysis paralysis.” That’s what happens when we spend so much time weighing the options, doing the homework and worrying over the outcomes that we never get started.

In her article “Do Whatever you F*cking Want,” blogger and anti-BS coach Nicole Antoinette has this advice for aspiring writers: “You don’t have to write a perfect first draft and you don’t have to wait until you’ve done more ‘research’ and you don’t have to worry about who’s going to publish it or what other people are going to think because none of that matters unless you just start writing.”

I love this! There is absolutely no point in concerning ourselves with the eventualities if we don’t take the first step.

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What I’m Reading – September 2014

Somehow or another, the summer has flown by and fall is on the way. And I find myself eagerly anticipating the cool mornings like this one that almost demand that I sleep in and then make my way to the local coffee shop, as I’ve done today.

And with the shift back to a school-year schedule (yay!), many things seem to fall back into place. Seems as good a time as any to take a look at what’s been inspiring me lately.

Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake: I had the opportunity to meet Lisa and her awesome family at the Food Blog Forum a couple of weeks ago. She and her husband shared some of the strategy behind their very successful blog, which Lisa started a couple of years ago with a 100-day pledge to only eat “real food.” She has kept right on with pledges to avoid processed food on a budget, and she just came out with a beautiful new cookbook.

Definitely an interesting read, and I’m kind of in love with her blog recipe for Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes. They made for the perfect Sunday morning breakfast, and the leftovers reheated beautifully in the toaster oven. The bananas provide just enough sweetness, and they’re delicious with some fresh fruit and just a drizzle of maple syrup. Next up from the world of real food: Lisa’s Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits, perhaps with a fresh batch of roasted tomato jam.

“Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt” by Momastery: Glennon writes inspiring, honest blog posts about her life and her struggles and invites guest posts from equally honest women. It’s beautiful, or sometimes—as she puts it—”brutiful,” equal parts beautiful and brutal. But thats life. I’m really interested in checking out her book, Carry On, Warrior.

Anyway, she recently wrote this post about giving herself the best and easiest kitchen makeover ever—a gratitude makeover. In includes gems like: “You guys. I have a REFRIGERATOR. This thing MAGICALLY MAKES FOOD COLD. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke.” Continue reading

Plot Complications

http://www.flickr.com/photos/missturner/ / CC BY 2.0

Scott Ginsberg, a very wise man, says that “we must create the art we want to see in the world.” He follows this with suggestions including, “Write the book you would want to read on the toilet,” and, “Release the record you would want to listen to driving down the highway.”

The one that spoke to me is this: “Post the blog you would want to read while waiting in line at the airport.” About which more later.

Recently I have had a number of enormous (!!!) celebrations. I have also had some pretty huge disappointments, including one that has struck me so deeply it’s difficult to explain. So I tried morning pages, another suggestion of the ever-wise Nametag Scott. Despite the fact that I only do them intermittently, they still work.

So after this quite sizable defeat, one that echoed into most of my past and seemingly all of my future, I directed my writing onto what I dream and what I love to do. Dance. Eat. Cook. Read. Design. Plan events. Do you see the pattern yet?

I did, and the conclusion I am drawing is that I am attracted to (and nearly addicted to) the literary quality of life. (Cheesy-sounding enough?) I like the connections, the allusions, the paradox, the irony, the non-linear beauty. I may be a total geek, but I LOVE the aspects of life that are like a book.

How do I harness that? How do I use that to fulfill my needs, and the needs of others. Where do I start? Maybe I can start here.