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Posts Tagged ‘the reading life’

Writing a dissertation is full of black holes that can swallow you up.

Boldness allows you to embrace hope and can make the impossible seem possible.

In the short story “Incoming Tide,” Pulitzer Prize winning writer Elizabeth Strout captures the essence of what might result from the interplay of boldness, hope, and perseverance.

“Incoming Tide,” from Strout’s collection entitled Olive Kitteridge, is told from the point of view of a young doctor, who has never recovered emotionally from a tragedy in his family.  He has returned to the town where he lived as a child. 

It’s clear that he plans to end his life.

But first he encounters a former teacher whose company and meandering conversation delays his plan and then at her urging, he’s called to do something bold.

The bold rescue of someone else also rescues him:  “he thought he would like the moment to be forever…Look how she wanted to live, look how she wanted to hold on.”

Consider the power of boldness.

You might need someone who believes in you and knows what you can do in order for you to do something bold.  You might have to be pushed.

You might even be avoiding doing something bold because you know that it could very likely lead to your feeling hopeful.  Once you let in some hope, then who knows what you might have to do! 

And what promises do you have that even with hope, you’ll reach your goal?

But it’s worth the gamble.  Once you have hope, perseverance becomes much easier.

Have you read “Incoming Tide”?

What have you read or what has occurred that inspires you to be bold?
I’d love to hear from you.

New Year’s Greetings,

Nancy

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net
www.usingyourstrengths.com

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What calls us to write?  Feeling moved by an activity, an idea, a sentence, a word, a sunset, a dessert, and feeling compelled to explore it more deeply by writing about it?

Writing is like baking or eating a French dessert, a rich, consuming experience, a bit treacherous, full of uncertainty. A friend had made her favorite dessert– canelés –and, “to make things even better,” she was going to share it with me.  Having never heard of canelés, I googled the word and what appeared was a wonderful blog  with and a post about canelés, complete with a lovely picture of the small golden cakes.  The writer wrote about the history of the dessert and her own memories of eating them in Paris and then her hassles with getting the temperature right in her oven when she baked them herself.

The sensual, lively post honored the special dessert and the writer’s experience in making it.  In addition, it was a gift to me, the reader, second only to the delicious gift of canelés from my friend.

In the book The Uncommon Reader, the titular reader is the Queen of England who by happenstance begins to read voraciously late in life and to her surprise and delight, finds that reading changes her life.

Chasing her corgis near Windsor Castle, she comes upon a mobile library, and being the polite queen, she borrows a book.  One book leads to another, and eventually she wondrously finds that she would rather read than do anything else.

From her reading, she starts to understand and take note of how others feel and live. She records observations in her notebook, something that raises concerns and suspicions among her staff.  One of her advisors, an elderly man prone to not bathing, thought that writing might be preferable to reading because “in his experience writing seldom got done. It was a cul-de-sac.”   He thought that she would then neither read nor write, a state he and the Queen’s people thought best fit the Queen.

People tending the Queen attributed her loss of attention to things ceremonial to a mental decline, so unusual it was for a Queen to read, to have interests, particularly interests that few others shared, and strangest of all, to write.

While reading took her to a wonderful new place in her life, only if she were to write a book would she feel her life complete.  She gathered a determined courage in order to announce to others that her next step would be to write something significant.

The charming, fanciful book is a critique of a somewhat shallow group of leaders, but it is also a salute to the power of reading and writing.

The Queen in this story had never envisioned herself as a serious reader, no more than she imagined that she would become a writer.  The portrait of this Queen shows someone bravely going  down an uncertain road.

To write takes a willingness to do whatever is necessary in order to write.

Writing has its own special rewards and makes its own special demands.  It needs tending, care, and a complex love.

It may be hard to call yourself a writer, or even to think of yourself as a writer when you struggle to make time for it or fit it into small crevices of your day.  But sooner or later, you will honor what you do in those few, quiet moments each day and say, maybe just to yourself, “I’m a writer.”  You are many things, but you most definitely are a writer and that identity was hard-won.

Write bravely!

Nancy

P.S.  In honor of the Queen’s corgis, here’s a funny little film shared with me by a friend celebrating her own birthday.

Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC

Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy@nancywhichard.com
www.nancywhichard.com
www.usingyourstrengths.com
www.dissertationbootcamp.net

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