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The Burden of Time: Holding your own as a creative freelance parent

Anyone who’s raised a toddler knows that toddlers get sick with astonishing frequency. Like, it’s almost sort of insane. My babe, for instance, has been sick since last Halloween. It is now May.

And if your toddler attends daycare, this presents an instant, recurring dilemma: who will skip work to stay home with the snotty little darling?

If, like me, you’re a creative freelancer and your partner is not, this burden probably defaults to you. And it’s probably sort of what you’ve chosen, even if you resent the imposition.

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“How did I think this was good?”

…every creative person who attempts to be creative for more than a few months at a stretch will eventually come face to face with this painful question.

If they are actually doing what they should be doing, that is: attempting to improve.

Learning. Growing. Getting smarter and nimbler and, hopefully, humbler, too.

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Bringing the Pain: Why Writing Well Hurts

“Eliminate things until you cry.”

-Unknown

Ever noticed how painful writing is?

I don’t mean the bodily act of it, although that definitely smarts, especially around the eyeballs, neck, and shoulders. (FWIW, yoga and stretching are shockingly beneficial for those committed to sedentary creative pursuits, as is learning to stop craning your neck forward like a horny turtle every time you get excited over a particular bit of prose dancing across your screen.)

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Unimaginable Unthings: Telling the Story You’re too Afraid to Tell

If you’ve ever had something really shitty happen to you, then you’ve probably noticed the same thing I’ve noticed.

Well intentioned friends and family, in the course of offering you their condolences, will often default to the same, tired three-word phrase: “I couldn’t imagine.”

I had two miscarriages a few years back, and folks lobbed this platitude (or some variation of it) at me quite a lot. Sometimes they couldn’t even imagine, or couldn’t begin to imagine. The braver among them could scarcely or hardly imagine. But always, there was a whole lot of not-imagining stuff going on.

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On Truth Telling: Where Should Your Allegiances Lie?

“All I knew was that I had to tell the truth.”

That’s a quote from Maya Angelou, and it’s often referenced by writers who are steadfastly dedicated to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in their writing.

The impulse is easy to relate to. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, most writers pull from their own experience for inspiration, and unless you were raised in a fallout shelter, your personal experiences probably involve other people. Real, live people, who might actually—gulp—read what you wrote about them someday.

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Bitter Gifts: Meditations on Using Your Time

There’s something bracing and just a little bit wistful about the sticky thick of summer.

It makes me think, inevitably, about time, and how fast it passes.

When I was a kid, man, summers lasted forever and ever. They were endless! Day after perfect day, stacked high up to sweaty infinity.

And when you hate school as much as I did, you live for those months of calm and ease. You rely on them and their plodding slowness to sooth and embolden you, to sand down the edges of memory enough that you might greet the crisp hustle of September with a bit of optimism and cheer.

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After television, the philosophy: Three Zen Challenges for Writers

What is it with writers and Zen Buddhism?

In the fusty ’50s, Beats like Alan Ginsberg and Gary Snyder challenged the status quo by refashioning themselves as blissed out Dharma Bums who’d snubbed conspicuous consumption and the yoke of routine in order to experience the present more deeply and more profoundly.

Contemporary novelist Ruth Ozeki, who moonlights as a Zen Buddhist priest, has unabashedly described writing as a form of prayer, a way of connecting with the expansive and sometimes baffling world beyond one’s head.

Why the abiding Zen lovefest among literary types? For starters, these folks have correctly guessed that a spare, playful approach to the craft of writing serves any writer immensely well.

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