Friday, May 15, 2015

on my writer's shelf

I have started writing in our office. I find comfort in the shelves of books filled with pretty words while I write. There's something about knowing they're there, backing me up and reminding me of all the people that have done this before me. But, there's one shelf that holds a special place in my heart and my process.

I call it my writer's shelf.

The writer's shelf is really a spot of inspiration. It's my place to look and see the words and books that made me want to do this. It's a reminder that taught me the way books take us away and challenge our thinking. I have one shelf that I look at when it's all feeling like too much and it makes me smile.

The other evening I was sitting by the shelf, writing as I do, sipping sun tea and I realized it held tools and words that I've beheld many times over. And then I thought of how friends share what they love, in hopes of encouraging one another. And so, I concluded you might wish to know what's on my shelf.

There's lots of good books included (in my humble opinion), so I've broken it up into a few posts. This one is all the fiction that changed me from a reader to a writer.
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I fell in love with reading from the moment I could lift a book. Often my mom would come in to check that I was asleep only to find her four-year-old blonde daughter snoring softly under a pile of books. She left me to sleep covered in the words and illustrations of children's books. But just a few years later, my hunger for reading was insatiable. I brought a book with me everywhere: dinners out, family vacations, the schoolyard. I found a comfort and escape by simply toting a book to and fro. That's hardly changed. Though I've found what it is I love when I read: relationships. 

I'm a reader who becomes deeply involved with the people who live between the covers of each book. The way I get caught up in the 
one | two | three | four | five | six

I didn't read a single book about faith until my dad got sick. I guess I thought I had it figured out. Or maybe tragedy just didn't feel relevant when I read it. Or maybe it was some part uncomfortable as I felt like I was flipping through the pages of someone else's diary. I think it was a combination of all of them. But, my book wasn't even fathomed until I read the above six books. Something about seeing the doubts and fears of other people without them being struck by lightening fallen from the heavens opened space in my own life for honest conversations with Him about all my hurts. 

My faith has grown because of dementia. But it was fertilized and cared for by the honest and beautiful words of others: specifically these six. Seeing their kindness to their process and doubts taught me to extend grace to myself. It is this grace that created space for me to be honest about the challenges and frustrations I had with my faith after growing up in church. 
one | two | three | four | five | six 

There is no one I'd rather encourage and instruct me than a person who has been there (where there might be) before and these people fit the bill perfectly. I am fascinated by the routine and process of creation other creatives (not simply authors) have established so I've been spending less time focusing on writing specific instruction and, instead, am looking for "advice" from all who make.

My own creative process (and structure) have come under great inspection now that I'm busy reading about the way others make ideas. I encourage you -regardless of what you make- to look at the way other people do it. I've introduced new pieces to my process and found some fruitful and others very telling about the way I make.

What is on your inspirational shelf? 


  1. I LOVE SO MANY OF THESE!!! It's cool you have different categories to go to for inspiration. I might be one of the only bloggers that doesn't really consider themselves a writer, even though I guess I write blog posts every now and then ;)

  2. Love this! I often find myself roaming through the library with your instagram or,blog pulled up for suggestions, I'll definitely be doing that tomorrow with these. I did want to ask a question, and hope it doesn't sound anything but genuinely curious. How do you find such inspiration in Anne lamott and her referring to God as a feminine being? I read all her books and couldn't get past it or her often unbiblical understanding of it just her writing that pulls you? I loved her voice but couldn't get around her forming her own opinions aside from/in conflict with scripture. Would love to bear your take because I have tons of respect your views and am interested to know if I missed something with her.

  3. Oh Amanda this is SUCH a great question and something I've thought of here and there.

    Mostly with Anne Lamott, I am just in awe of her honesty and her voice. She has such a way of talking about the hard parts of life in such freeing ways. I grew up in a very "perfect" church that made God intimidating for me. In reading Rachel Held Evans' "Evolving in Monkeytown" and many of Lamott's books, I realized God loves us here and now in our mess. So, while I don't necessarily agree with Lamott's views, I'm thankful He's given her the gift of words because it was through her writing (that is certainly controversial) that I learned I'm allowed to wrestle with Him and with faith. I think wrestling speaks volumes about one's trust in His goodness.

    On top of all that, my dad's diagnosis and dying tore me apart from the inside out. It brought me to the realization that my life (and subsequently faith) had lived in a sort of ignorant vacuum unaffected by tragedy or hurt. After suffering alongside him for years, I've realized He is faithful. And so often that is what Anne's underlying theme is (even if only accidental). In losing her best friend, in her son's unplanned birth, in her own addictions, He was faithful. And there's something about a tale of His faith that just draws me in. :)

    Whoa. Lots. But hopefully, helpful. :) I appreciate you and your spirit. I need people who are here in support and in honesty. You're that.

  4. Oh I completely understand that. I honestly didn't consider myself any kind of writer until I undertook the book... And even now I don't know how "deserving" of that title I really am! :)

  5. I LOVE The Help! I also love that you have so many places to go for inspiration. You are so organized...I love it!

  6. I love this! I really should write about books that have changed my life!

  7. Oh, oh, oh. I love Roald Dahl. Fantastic Mr. Fox is my favorite :) The Secret Life of Bees is such a wonderful story, too! I still need to read The Help, but I will! Now I feel like I need to save this post and read all your literature inspirations. I'm glad the self motivates you to write. I hit so many snags when I write =/

  8. We have identical faith book loves! I want to try the books in your creative section. The only one I read was "Bird by Bird" (Anne Lamott is amazing!)


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