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: January 2015 + One Helpful Internet Tool

Before I share some of the words I have been enjoying lately, I want to tell you about one of my favorite reading tools. It’s called Pocket, and it saves interesting articles or blog posts that I find so that I can read them later. So simple, and yet it allows me to stay focused in my easily distracting social media job, and it also gives me a place to keep all the neat and inspiring things I encounter on the internet.

I’ve been using Pocket for a while, as well as the corresponding iPhone app and Chrome extension, which allows me to add articles to my reading list by right clicking on the link. And for those blogs whose posts I never want to miss, I set up an IFTTT recipe to pull new stories from the RSS feed into my list. Then when I have a few minutes, I can flip through the stories I’ve saved at my own pace. It’s a great tool.

Anyway, on to the things I’ve been reading, most of which came through Pocket at one time or another:

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown TaylorLearning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor: Have you ever had an experience where everything in your life seems to be pointing you in the same direction and you just know that’s where you need to be? This book is the result of one such convergence. I’ve been hearing about Barbara Brown Taylor for years and meaning to pick up one of her books but never had. On one of my holiday drives, the local NPR station was rebroadcasting an interview with her about this particular book. When I looked it up online, the Kindle version was on sale for $2, and after I started reading it, some significant conversations pointed me in the very direction her writing was already taking me. Whoa. Continue reading