No, not one of those Wall Street banks.  I only wish I knew what to do about those.  In recent months, I’ve laid off the cable news channels in my house, because they seem to add little to my understanding of current events and much to my general feeling of unease.  But this week, that resolution is out the window.  It’s all about AC360 right now.  And I don’t mean to turn into a political blogger, but right now the uncertain state of our economy is really sapping…not my will to write, exactly, but definitely my excitement about writing.  Is anyone else out there feeling the same?

If there’s one thing the pundits agree on, it’s that this whole situation is far from over.  Like it or not, I had better just get used to writing through uncertain times. 🙂  So I’m going to focus on keeping my writing bank accounts healthy and robust.  You know, refilling that well of words inside.

Reading, of course, is the main way writers do this.  And as I blogged last week, I have a whole slew of new historicals calling me to my local bookstore today.  Thank heaven for happy endings.  But I realize I’ve neglected my non-romance reading of late, and I’m going to finally read a few other books that have been languishing on my shelves. The ones positively screaming at my from the bookcase this morning are Suite Francaise and March – both of which deal with moral ambiguity and personal responsibility during times of upheaval and war…hmmm.  I sense a trend.

Then I’ve signed up for a few daily email services.  A Word A Day, to build that vocab, and one that sends me a daily classic poem.  I adore poetry, and I don’t read enough of it.  Critically reading a poem, for me, is like a gym workout.  There’s this initial hurdle of effort that holds me back, for sheer laziness.  But when I do make the effort, I come away from it so energized, I wonder why it is I can’t be arsed to make it a daily habit.  And poems don’t require a change of clothes, or gym membership.  So a poem a day it is.

What do you do to refill your writer’s bank of words and inspiration?


Happy New Year to those celebrating the Jewish high holidays!

13 comments to “Refilling the bank”

  1. Elyssa
    · September 30th, 2008 at 9:52 am · Link

    Oh thanks for those links! I signed up for both of them. I get a Shakespeare quote delivered once a week, which is teh awesome.

    Economy scares me right now. I listen and read the news each day with sickening dread. Hello Great Depression, part II!

  2. Elyssa
    · September 30th, 2008 at 10:13 am · Link

    Oops, forgot to add: Happy New Year!!!

  3. Stephanie J
    · September 30th, 2008 at 2:49 pm · Link

    The other night McCain said something about how this isn’t the beginning of the end but only the end of the beginning. Talk about a really depressing time!

    I was in a reading funk and I’m finally finding my way back to books that excite me. Plus with all the great releases I’m feeling my writing juices getting charged which is good but I know what you mean. It can be draining on the creative side when there are so many other things to think about.

    No daily emails for me but I just love using my computer’s thesaurus feature. I look up words randomly like it’s a game. Weird?

  4. Evangeline
    · September 30th, 2008 at 3:59 pm · Link

    I refill my work bank through reading. Unless the word has relevance to my life, of I’ve stumbled upon it while reading, those word-of-the-day emails and programs fly right over my head. Unless it’s another language, I have trouble memorizing random words and their definitions (weird, isn’t it?)

    Because of this, I absolutely adore it when writers–romance writers in particular–use the “big” words in their works instead of choosing the layman’s terms. I want to be exposed to new words and word choices when I read, which is why I do so.

  5. Maggie Robinson
    · September 30th, 2008 at 4:00 pm · Link

    My mind has been hijacked by political bloggers and news sites. I’ve never much cared before, but this year seems starkly different. It’s affecting (effecting? Time to subscribe to something) my writing to the extent I keep clicking away to get my latest fix.

    For inspiration, I depend not so much on words but images. I spend a lot of time on online art museums/galleries, kind of like a do-it-yourself-before-you-die art history program. And discovering travel tapes on YouTube has been fun.

  6. Santa
    · September 30th, 2008 at 7:23 pm · Link

    I can’t listen to anymore news or listen to another politician. It wreaks havoc with my blood pressure.Strangely, I am writing more now than I’ve been in quite a long time. I also find myself re-reading old favorites from my romance keeper shelves, as well as, books from Umberto Eco and Edith Wharton.

    I am going to sign up for Word A Day. I had one of those calenders a couple of years ago.

  7. kelly krysten
    · October 1st, 2008 at 8:02 am · Link

    I tend to keep the TV turned off. When I watch it I get itchy.:) My father keeps me updated anyway.
    It’s been hard for me to write lately, too. But the new releases this week are gearing me up again.
    Oh and, thanks for the links!

  8. Tessa
    · October 1st, 2008 at 8:32 am · Link

    Great comments, everyone. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one feeling the stress.

    Ely, a weekly Shakespeare quote would be great, too! Do you have the link?

    Stephanie, I also love and the Word thesaurus feature, and most of all I can spend hours that way.

    Evangeline, I agree that the word-of-the-day thing is less likely to translate into usable vocabulary than just plain reading in context. But it is kind of fun, and sometimes I get reminded of a word I already know, but haven’t used in a long time. In fiction….I don’t know. There are some writers who keep me reaching for the dictionary, and I love learning new words–but it does interrupt the flow of the story. On the other hand, if an unusual word is very skillfully integrated, I can guess the meaning from context. Hm. I think my favorite is when an author uses a familiar word in a novel way. I get the lovely surprise of interesting language, without having to break the flow of reading.

    Maggie, thank you for the reminder that beautiful images can be just as important as beautiful words. I completely agree.

    Santa, those are two authors I have never successfully read all the way through. Sad, hm? Perhaps it’s time to try again. Esp. Wharton. I don’t know why it is I couldn’t click with Wharton, the last time I tried.

    Kelly Krysten, you are smart. The TV makes me itchy, too. But now I have discovered some political blogs that make me just as itchy, and I find it even harder to stay away…. November can’t come soon enough, is all I’m saying. 🙂

  9. Elyssa
    · October 1st, 2008 at 9:13 am · Link

    Here’s the URL for the Shakespeare Quote of the Week:

  10. terrio
    · October 1st, 2008 at 10:10 am · Link

    Funny, I just unsubscribed from the Word of the Day today. They’ve been sending odd words and nothing I didn’t already know. And if I know them all, that’s telling you something.

    I too get my fix from reading. Which is likely why I need to venture back to some straight fiction soon. I used to read at least one or two mainstream fiction books a year. Not so now. A friend just sent me two very good works of fiction and once I get through the must reads coming out this week, I’m going to dive in and replenish. (Not that the must read romances don’t have good words. But you know what I mean. *g*)

  11. Janga
    · October 1st, 2008 at 12:33 pm · Link

    As much as I love romance fiction, I need to read other things–for my idea bank as well as for my word bank. I get ideas from song lyrics, from literary fiction, from memoirs and biographies, ideas that I can tweak and twist to use in my writing. I’ve been reading a memoir, Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish now, and despite the Depression setting, it is a book filled with joy. It’s a good antidote to newscasts too. And I drew the inspiration from Kalish’s description of a crab apple tree blooming.

    I get the OED Word of the Day, which I love. I am most intrigued when I discove new meanings of familiar words. I prefer my poetry in print form though. Somehow the connection with the poet seems more intimate to me that way. I’m reading Mary Oliver this week. I am working on memorizing “An Afternoon in the Stacks.” Here’s a bit:

    “An echo,
    continuous from the title onward, hums
    behind me. From in here, the world looms,
    a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
    carved out when an author traveled and a reader
    kept the way open.”

  12. Tessa
    · October 1st, 2008 at 10:18 pm · Link

    Ely, thanks for the link! Can never go wrong with Shakespeare.

    Terri, if you know all the words of the day, I think it’s time for you to start your own service! Sign me up. 🙂

    Janga, thank you for that lovely snippet. I adore the poet’s acknowledgment that the impact of books is a collaboration between author and reader. (At least, that’s what that last line or two said to me!) Whether I read from a page or the computer, I always have to read the poem aloud. I wish I had some hunky British baritone to read them aloud to me, but we do what we can.

  13. Santa
    · October 2nd, 2008 at 6:11 am · Link

    I really need to expand my knowledge of poetry. I am sadly lacking in that department. That snippet was marvelous and so true.

    And Tessa, let me clarify that preparing myself to read Eco is part of the ‘filling the well’ ritual. I need all my faculties focused in order to get anywhere. And Wharton takes me to one of my favorite time periods with one of my favorite slices of Americana – New York and its society.

    And that Word a Day is fun! Off to add Shakespeare because you know you can never have enough favorites.