Tag Archives: Writing

Better than Drugs

Tuesday morning was the first time I left a twenty foot radius from my infant’s side. She’s still reticent to accept a bottle after a week of coaxing, but it was time for me to get back to teaching my Playwriting class. I had to convince myself that she would survive the two hours away from her primary food source while in the care of her doting dad. So, I borrowed Joe’s car and headed to the university, listening to NPR for the first time in over a month. A soldier was talking about the blog he kept in Afghanistan. He said that the Army offers medicine for depression, sleeplessness and anxiety, but that he found writing to be better than any drug.

Then, bam. I was rear-ended just a block from the university. Since this was the first time I was outside of the twenty-foot-from-infant radius, it was also the first time I had been in a car without her since she was born. My mind raced from oh my god I can’t believe that just happened to what if she were in the car with me? Would she be hurt? And what if this had happened, and she were in the car, and it was that first day or two of parenting when I kept buckling her legs through the arm straps? What then? Or what if this accident were worse, and something happened to me, and she can’t drink from a bottle?

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Brag Round-Up for Monday, August 31

Jennifer Gandin Le

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Kindly Observing Yourself

Natalie Goldberg’s most recent book, Old Friend from Far Away, came out in 2007, but I didn’t discover it until earlier this year, when I had the privilege of hearing her at an Austin synagogue. This book is focused on the practice of writing memoir, and is as rich as all of her other books on writing.

One chapter is titled “Practice Notebook.” In it, she suggests keeping a small separate notebook where you write a brief note about your practice every single day. You write down the date, whether or not you practiced, and any other short notes about the day’s practice. The idea is to be aware of your writing practice, rather than feel ashamed or derailed by the days that you don’t write. It’s all part of the practice. She says, “This act of noting makes your writing–or not writing–conscious. It plants a seed; you stay connected.”

I’m now keeping a practice notebook for my writing, and, indeed, I feel the ways that this kind observing of myself has started to transform the evil, self-judgmental voices in my head that crop up when I skip a day.

This style of radical self-acceptance and awareness is useful beyond writing practice, too. I’m using it to observe myself around other habits that I’d like to change, and it’s such a relief to see the habits clearly written on the page, rather than seeping like mist through the dangerous regions of my mind.

What places in your life could use this kind of loving, non-judgmental attention?

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.


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Brag Round-Up for Monday, July 6

Courtney Martin

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Brag Round-Up for Monday, June 29

Courtney Martin

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The Social Media Moment + Sidelined Communities

deannazandtThis week, I got an exciting e-mail from my friend and fellow 2006 REAL Hot 100 winner, Deanna Zandt. She’s a media technologist and a leading expert in women and technology, and she’s about to add “first-time author” to her resume.

She’s signed with the Berrett-Koehler publishing group to write a book about “the social media moment as a huge opportunity for social change and action.” Women, people of color, queer people, and many more have too often been left in the dust of technological advances (see film, TV, and radio in their formative years). Deanna will use her experience in the feminist community and bring in experts from the fields of racial justice, LGBTQQI organizing, the front lines of the class warfare, and more, to assemble strategies for widening the diversity of voices in social media.

Deanna is a sharp, compassionate, thoughtful person, and her book is going to help women and other sidelined communities release their fear and take advantage of the new technologies. The last thing we need is another place where the dominant culture creates uncontested content that blocks out all other perspectives.

If you’re interested in technology and social justice, you should be reading Deanna’s blog. Also, the publisher doesn’t offer advances, so Deanna is fundraising for living expenses this summer while she writes the book in 4 short months. Even if you have $10 to spare, visit her Feed The Author page and join supporters like the Hightower Lowdown, and Don Hazen and Doug Kreeger (editor and board member of AlterNet). It’s a fantastic project in which to invest.

Her full fundraising letter below the cut.

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Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Education, Gender, Politics, Race, Science & Technology, Writing

Brag Round-Up for Monday, June 22

Courtney Martin

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