Monthly Archives: February 2016

Why Writers Drink

Greetings!

No, I have not been drinking.

That said, I think I’ve figured out the reason why writers drink.  But first, here are some examples of troubled writers:

Ernest Hemingway – Sadly, he committed suicide.  It was something that seemed to haunt his family.

Sylvia Plath – Also committed suicide – Her poem Daddy might explain why she was depressed. Here’s an excerpt:

There’s a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Edgar Allan Poe – One of my personal favourites.  He had to go to England to get some respect as a writer. They didn’t appreciate him back home in the U.S.A.  See, he was driven to madness by his fellow countrymen.  Clearly not his fault. Although, he did marry his 13 year old cousin, which is weird at any time in history.

Virginia Woolf – Not sure what to say about her. She’s Virginia Woolf.  And, she had a troubled upbringing.  Sad.

Jack London – He may or may not have overdosed on morphine (Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and rule it accidental.)

These writers suffered from depression, and are clearly not the best examples – BUT, here’s the thing…

For the short-ish list of troubled writers, how many more are there that don’t have any form of depression or mental illness?

Lots.  That’s how many. Unfortunately, I don’t have the numbers for you. I’m a wordsmith, people, not an accountant!

And, now the moment you’ve been waiting for.  Here is Ellie’s reasoning as to why writers drink:

Writing is hard!

After banging my head against the wall (not literally) every day, I feel like I need a drink. I feel like I deserve a drink.  I think I have earned it!

You know, I don’t think that artists are any more troubled than the average person.  Maybe we’re more sensitive to the aches and pains of life.  I don’t know what it is.

The thing I admire about writers (and why I think it’s important to read literature from all periods of time and cultures) is that writers hold up a mirror to culture and society and say, “This is a problem.”

Writers are big on social justice issues, of calling out wrongs and injustices.

Writers go against the grain, the status-quo.  If that doesn’t make a person need the occasional drink, well, I’m a bunch of radish…

By the way, Elizabeth Gilbert gave a great Ted Talk about this subject. I highly recommend it.  And, she’s much more eloquent on the subject than my mad ramblings.

My sincere apologies if I depressed you.  I’ll try and be a bit more lively next blog post.

Here’s some good news – Spring is coming!!!
Take your head out of the oven, Sylvia Plath…

Oh my…

Blessings,

Ellie

Question: What character referred to him or herself as a bunch of radish?   I love this character!!

To Dream

Hi there,

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  C.S. Lewis

Did you get that?  You are NEVER TOO OLD to set another goal.  Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you.

Remember when you were a kid and you wrote down all the things you wanted to be when you grew up?  And, now you’re all grown up.  Did you do any of those things on your list? Did you do one thing that was on your list?

Obviously I was never going to become a ballerina, but there were some things that I loved doing as a child that did point to the direction my life should take.

For instance, eating. I really liked eating.  Even more than visiting my grandparents. (Fortunately, they’re dead so they can’t be offended by that…Just kidding! I miss them terribly! In fact, I was just looking at a scrapbook my mom made for me and when I saw their pictures, became teary-eyed!!!)

When I was in grade school we were asked to write out, “Things I like to do”.   So, here are the top things I liked to do when I was a kid:

Eat
Read
Listen to rock music (still lovin’ Jonny Lang!)
Watch T.V.
Like seeing my grandparents and my dad

So based on this list, I should be a professional eater. Does that exist?  It kind of does – Onto the next one on the list.

Read – I could of gone into publishing I suppose.

But, as you know I love to write.  It took me a really long time before I finally got the courage to do it.  That said, I just have some people reading  a first novel and I want to run and hide under my covers!  Seriously, dying over here people…

The good thing about writing is that you can only get better as you age. With age comes experience and wisdom. All good things.

One dream I had was to have my own T.V. show (number four on the list).  Thanks to Rogers Community TV here in Ottawa, I did it.  I interviewed local authors, pairing my love of reading with T.V.   Ellie’s Read On Ottawa is to air soon.  (I’ll keep you posted.)

Sadly, on the flip side of that page was written, “Things I like about my appearance:”  I only had two with four blank spots:

My eyes
My hair

I think I’m going to go back and fill up those lines.

Blessings,

Ellie

Question:  What one goal or dream are you going to achieve this year?
Question:  What six things do you like about your appearance?

 

Three Virtues

Hi there!

One of my favourite historical people is Brother Lawrence.  He was a monk back in the 1600’s, born in Lorraine, France to peasant parents. (Try saying that three times fast!)

“Most of what is known about Brother Lawrence comes through the efforts of Abbe de Beaufort, the Cardinal de Noailles’s envoy and investigator. By 1666 Brother Lawrence’s unusual wisdom had caught the cardinal’s attention, and Beaufort was directed to interview the lowly kitchen aide. Upon ascertaining that Beaufort’s interest was genuine, and not politically motivated, Brother Lawrence granted four interviews, “conversations,” in which he describes his way of life and how he came to it.”

Brother Lawrence once said, “That all things are possible to him who believes, that they are less difficult to him who hopes, they are more easy to him who loves, and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues.”

And, now for the pièce de résistance, I am going to try to unpack it.

Part 1:  “That all things are possible to him who believes”

Belief is a difficult thing.  One of the Bible verses that springs to mind is Hebrews 11:6,
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

I know I believe in God, that he exists, but do I really believe that he will reward me for sincerely seeking him?  Maybe.  So far, the first part of Brother Lawrence’s quote is sounding an awful lot like the Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey duet, “When You Believe.” Making miracles is hard work!

Part 2:  “that they are less difficult to him who hopes”

Hope is the thing that keeps us moving forward, believing that even though we don’t understand everything, that there is meaning and purpose.

Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

Part 3:  “they are more easy to him who loves”

Now, love’s the thing! John simply said, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Three very simple and shocking words to his audience at the time – Israel.  I think his words are just as shocking to our ears, eyes and senses too, given all the awful things going on in the world.   How can a loving God allow these things to continue?  I have no answers, just my trust that God is in control and that I probably need to pray more.  God hears our prayers!!

Conclusion:  “and still more easy to him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues”

The word “perseveres” jumps out at me. That’s the hard part, to keep moving forward, to keep praying, to keep believing and hoping that God’s got in the bag, so to speak.  I know for some it sounds like pie in the sky, but it’s all I have to go on.

And, what do you have against pie anyway?

Blessings,

Ellie

Information about Brother Lawrence taken from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/innertravelers/brotherlawrence.html

Loneliness-a-la-Chekhov

Hi there,

Anton Chekhov said, “If you are afraid of loneliness, don’t marry.”

Chekhov is one of my favourite writers, my first literary love.  Seriously, I read The Cherry Orchard and fell in love.  I have an odd-ball sense of humour, I guess.  (And, no, I am not really in love with a dead man!)

I like this quote by him though.   It shows that being with someone is not the cure for loneliness. But, how many actually believe it?

I think the times I have felt most alone is when I am with people.  I am totally content by myself. I can do what I want, when I want. It’s great!  But,  get me in with other people, and my singleness stands out like an elephant in a tea room. (Tried to get away from the “sore thumb” analogy.)

Anyway, I was just looking up the word “lonely” in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary and here it is:

  1. 1a :  being without company :  lone

    b :  cut off from others :  solitary

  2.  not frequented by human beings :  desolate

  3. sad from being alone :  lonesome

  4.  producing a feeling of bleakness or desolation

Being without company doesn’t sound all that bad.  It’s being cut off from others, or not frequented by human beings where the trouble begins.

I think we really are meant to be in community, but for some (or most) of us, that’s hard. We can rub each other the wrong way!

It was only when I started going to my current church that I began to let people in. Before that, I would keep people at a safe distance.  I cut myself off from others. I made the choice to do it.

But then, I made the choice to let people in.  It started off slowly at first and began to pick up speed.   Here’s that warning label:

Warning:  Must weed out the bad from the good

And, you know what that means…We’re going to get hurt in the process.

Feelings of sadness, bleakness or desolation need to be acknowledged.  It’s hard to reach out to someone and say, “Hey, I’m feeling kinda lonely. Want to hang out?  Go to a movie? Grab a cup of tea?”  We would make ourselves vulnerable.  That’s a risky move.  But worth it.  It’s also important to find  people who are safe to do this with, matched with a bit of courage on our part.

One time when I was walking home from church, I was doing more than just complaining to God. I was telling him how much I hate being single.  HATE! HATE! HATE!   I was walking home from church alone, as usual, and FEELING it.

From that Sunday, I never began my walk from church alone. I didn’t always have someone to walk all the way home with, but I always had someone with me to begin my journey home.   (Now that we’ve moved back to the bigger church, I find it so loud and over-stimulating to my borderline introverted self, that I am happy to get away from church alone. It’s all a matter of perspective!)

God is always listening!  Sometimes, we may need to reach out to a human being, and sometimes we just need to reach out to God.

Blessings,

Ellie