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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insecure Writers: Grandmothering The Social Media

When my grandmother was alive she used to mail me articles clipped from newspapers and magazines that she thought I'd be interested in. Life stuff, job stuff, book stuff. She would underline the parts she believed were particularly relevant to make sure I understood why she'd sent it. I loved getting her letters in the mail. She was the only person I ever corresponded with on a regular basis using pen and paper. Letter writing feels like a bygone era now.

Of course, all that occurred before Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger. My grandmother never sent an e-mail in her life. The U.S. mail was still delivered by horse and buggy when she was born. But I do think if she were alive today she would have embraced social media simply for the power of sharing links to articles she thought worthy of a person's time. Today I'm going to follow her lead and pass on a few items I've "clipped" from the internet. Things I hope an Insecure Writer might find relevant.


Ironically, I'll start with a letter:

I found this via Letters of Note. It's from a letter written by Kurt Vonnegut to a class of high school students who were given the assignment of writing to a favorite author with the hope of persuading him to visit the school. Here is an excerpt from his reply explaining why he couldn't make it. The underlining is his.


"What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit:
Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what's inside you, to make your soul grow. 



This next excerpt I found through Dave Stewart (yes, of Eurythmics fame). It comes from an article by Deepak Chopra which asks, Are You Destined for Success? The article looks at the reasons for individual success, whether it's a matter of measurable data points like motivation, intelligence, privilege, talent, or just plain luck. But it's Chopra here, so the message naturally goes a little deeper. Underlining is mine.


"Yet none of us wants to feel like the pawn of fate, so the search for the golden key to success remains alive. I believe that the real answer lies elsewhere. The key to success lies in one thing: Stop using a win-lose model. There is a way to make success a win-win situation. It's based on the simple idea that life isn't a zero sum game. Not every person who enters a corporation can end up as chief executive. But every person can achieve the fruits of success if we stop measuring them by external labels. The fruits of success, as measured in lifelong satisfaction, are far more meaningful."(read the rest here)




And finally I saw this retweetable quote via Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest. True that.





Writing sometimes goes deeper than aiming to sell books.


Yours truly,

LG



This post is part of the Insecure Writers Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. We meet the first Wednesday of every month. We're a very successful group, sharing what we've learned together for over two years. Join us!



Creative Commons photo credits:  

mailbox by Imurf
stones by Jörg Reuter


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87 comments:

  1. Grandmothers are famous for sharing clipped articles ha ha. My sister isn't on Facebook and I find myself emailing her links to articles often, and we joke that I'm her grandmother.

    Loved the tidbits you shared! :-)

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  2. I bet you miss those letters from your grandmother.
    Real success can only be measured inside, by our own standards. Not the world's. Not others. If we've made a meaningful contribution to the world, that is success.

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  3. OMGoodness you've got me all sentimental now. I miss writing letters to my grandmother too. And talking to her on the phone.

    Then the first quote hit me hard. It really is about "becoming". Positive and negative reviews of one's work don't even matter as long as each short story, novel, blog post or journal entry help me to grow and become something more than I currently am.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Oh, L.G., I needed these today, especially the first one. Thank you!

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  5. Jennifer - I can't imagine how inundated I'd be today if my grandmother were online. She read EVERYTHING.

    Alex - I do miss them. And I was stupid not to have saved most of them. I finally started keeping the later ones in the years before she died.

    Charity - I got a little sentimental writing this post. No one sends handwritten letters anymore it seems.

    Karen - Me too. Writing purely for external praise isn't always the best motivator. It doesn't hold up long in the face of rejection. :(

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  6. Some of my favorite days of the month are the one's I send cards to my seasoned aunts and my mom. There's something special about penning a card vs. typing an email. It's so much more personal.

    Writing sometimes goes deeper than aiming to sell books.
    ^^^^
    It goes way deeper for me. It gets me through days of migraine/neck pain. It's a wonderful world of escape! =)))

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    1. yep, if I wasn't a teacher and didn't have to correct an essay or a homework here and there, it is quite possible I would forget how to write manually :)

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  7. Oh, grannies love using social media these days. As a matter of fact, in my personal army of Dezzy's Tweeting Angels I have a Granny Squadron and those are usually my most faithful and most committed fighter grannies :) They often go on missions for me to Facebook too :)

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  8. I'm going to bookmark this post. There are days when I need to read everything you've included here. Perfect. Thank you for putting it all together.

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  9. My GOD. It's like you saw into my soul when you put this together. I needed to hear every bit of this. Thanks. :) I love your analogy to your grandmother's letter. I'm sure she'd be all over the social networks.

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    1. P.S. I KEEP forgetting to tell you that your profile pic is the coolest evah.

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    2. Thanks! As you can see, I'm in my silhouette phase right now. :)

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  10. I love, love, love this post. These words ARE inspiring, and are perfect for an IWSG day. They're uplifting, hopeful, motivating, and all in all excellent reminders. I needed them today - thank you.

    I have a friend whose mom used to print out email forwards and articles, and send them via snail mail to my friend - instead of just forwarding them ;) We laughed about it, but I wonder if she secretly liked getting those letters in the mail. I miss those days, too.

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  11. Dezzy - The problem sometimes is those dreadful e-mail chains. My father forwards all kinds of crap to me and a hundred others all at once. At least with stamped letters it cut down on the amount of junk your relatives sent you. LOL.

    Carol - Yeah, me too. Whenever I start thinking of querying again and all that rejection I have to close ranks emotionally and tell myself that the writing is enough by itself. But, of course, I want someone to love it and say yes to it too! :P

    Nicki - I love that Vonnegut letter. He really had a great attitude about this stuff. He liked to say life was for farting around. So it goes... :)

    Liz - That's hilarious. She printed out emails and articles and then snail mailed them? Ha! Old habits die hard. :)

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    1. by the way, how are Mr. Father and Mrs. Mother? Is their house OK now? What about the rest of the town? Is everybody prepared for the winter after the floods? Is all the water gone?

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    2. It's weird, the house is like a sauna from all the moisture. It still isn't completely dried out in the basement, even though there have been fans running non-stop. But it's cleaned up. I think they'll refinish it in the spring with a cheap government loan.

      But the roads and bridges in the area are still not fixed. A few have been repaired, but most are still closed. I don't know if it's manpower or money that is holding things up, but there's still a lot of work to do to get things back to normal.

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    3. but there is no more water everywhere, yes? It dried out? You don't have lakes and ponds all around the town?

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    4. Right, the water went down after a few weeks. But we had been in such a terrible drought before the big rain came. The ground seems to have held on to a lot of the water that fell. Lakes are still very full, and the grass hasn't been watered since September but it's still green. Normally it would have shriveled up and turned brown by now.

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  12. Great post. My dad was always sending articles with underlines or arrows pointing out what he wanted me to read. Love the quote about "becoming." I know it's become trite to say life is a journey, but think about how true that is for our writing. If we don't enjoy the journey, why do it?

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  13. I used to love writing letters to my grandpa and getting his letters in return. I love email and blogging, etc, but there is a part of me that will always miss real letters.

    I love the "becoming" quote as well.

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  14. Email, twitter and Facebook aren't quite the same, are they? My step-mother still cuts things out and send it to us. I'm always amazed at how thoughtful the gesture is. Nope, the internet can't replace that.

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  15. My mother still mails me articles and comic strips and things she's come across in print media that she thinks I'll enjoy.

    On an kind of unrelated note, She's also one of my Facebook friends, and I find I have to remind myself of this so that when I'm freaking out about something (football, day job, etc), I keep my language clean. Cleaner.

    Great quotes/excerpts, all. Definitely things to take to heart.

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  16. Letter writing is a sort of lost art. I still thrill to the sight of a handwritten one. As far as Kurt Vonnegut, he had lots of inspiring and funny advice. I teach one of his books, Bluebeard, a parody of the artworld of the 70s, and my art students always get a huge kick out of it, and say it inspired them.

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  17. Loved this: "Writing sometimes goes deeper than aiming to sell books."

    I remember letters and getting REAL mail. My mom did that for me - sending articles and snippets when I moved to Canada. She has gone, but I still have some of the letters she wrote. Many letters of famous people have been published. It's a skill that will be lost if we never use it. Perhaps that's why many have trouble with writing query letters.

    A thoughtful and inspiring post, LG. Things like letter writing fall to the side for the sake of speed (which is handy), but there's a certain pleasure in opening a letter from a friend. An email is good, but you can't touch that.

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  18. It sounds like you had a wonderful relationship with your grandmother. These are all great quotes, but I also think that you said it best: "Writing sometimes goes deeper than aiming to sell books." Thanks for the inspiration Luanne!

    Julie

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  19. Diane - I don't think it's trite at all. I still try to believe it anyway. Too easy to get discouraged by results that don't match expectations otherwise. :)

    Julie - It's amazing how much a letter in the mail can cheer your day. Especially when you recognize the handwriting and know it's going to be full of good advice.

    T. D. - How lucky you are to have someone who still uses the post. All I ever get anymore are credit card apps and offers to clean my windows. Blah.

    M.J. - LOL. I can see how you might want to tone it down for your mother. If my grandmother were alive she would probably read my blog (or want me to print it out and mail it to her). :)

    Catherine - I'm late discovering Vonnegut's brilliance. He really is an inspiration, though, full of hard won experience on how to take life as it comes.

    D.G. - You'd love that Letters of Note site. That's all they do is post letters by famous people. There's also a book I've been thinking of getting.

    Julie - She was the best. Smartest woman I ever knew. She read everything, even the annual reports on her stocks. Nobody reads those. :P

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  20. Great post! It made my laugh, because my grandfather used to send me anonymous mail as a kid (although I always knew it was him). Half the time it was enlistment stuff for the armed forces...my mom used to hate that:)

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  21. My heart leapt in agreement with Flaubert.

    Lu, when I saw your post on the dashboard, it felt like candy. That's the feeling I got, you know, when you see a piece of something you know you're going to savor? Pay-off.

    Your grandmother sounds like first-rate person. Thank you for writing about her.

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  22. Mark - Anonymous mail? Hey, kid, how's it going? Signed your invisible friend. Um... And my dad was the same way about the military stuff. Tried to get all of us to sign up. I actually went as far as the recruiting office once.

    Suze - I love that Flaubert quote too. I recognize the truth of it some days more than others, but the deeply personal writing days, yeah, it's very apt. And, ooh, I hope I am like dark salted chocolate with some nuts in it. :))

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  23. Your grandmother sounds like one cool lady.

    And the Vonnegut letter reminded me of this bit from some bloke named Sting.

    I define success personally as the ability to go on to the next stage, or to keep evolving.

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  24. If you're writing for money, downloads, reviews, etc. you're setting yourself up for all kinds of misery. Write to tell a story, and to tell it in the most brilliant and unexpected way you know how. Try at it until you're proud of what you've created. Then write the next one. Let everything else work itself out. :)

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  25. I love that idea of no longer looking at success as win-win, that lifelong satisfaction is the true measure of success. Thanks for sharing!

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  26. It's all about perspective, isn't it? I treasured the relationship I had with my grandmother. It helped shaped the way I view the world.

    Awesome quotes. Thanks for sharing.

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  27. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Love those quotes. My grandmother would have done the same. :) My mom, although she struggles with media, still copies newspaper articles and sends them to various relatives with parts underlined. It's always about encouragement.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  28. Steve - That bloke Sting knows a thing or two about success and keeping things in perspective. Highly quotable source there. :))

    E.J. - I've always trusted that if you write the story in your heart, if your motivation comes from wanting to write the story only you can tell, then good things can happen. Nothing wrong with making money, but I think it skews the writing when that's a person's sole aim.

    Madeline - It's something I'm getting more comfortable with as I get older. When you're young, ambition is a very powerful elixir. But later in life, happiness and self-satisfaction seem to count for more. Geesh, this turned into a very sentimental post. :P

    Isis - Oh, yeah. High five for grandmothers! Can't imagine what my life would have been like without my grandmother's guidance. :))

    Tyrean - I'm already doing this with my son. I e-mail him articles all the time I think he'll want to read. I'll probably double the effort when he moves out. :P

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  29. Very nice, L.G. Both the intro (what a sweet memory) and the quotes. Thanks for that.

    You know what's funny? As I read (in my head) the Chopra quote, it was his Indian accent that I heard. I love Chopra...have many of his books.

    And Vonnegut. Another favorite. Preesh. :)

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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  30. Writing truly goes deeper than selling books. Thanks for sharing all of those with us. I do love Mr. Vonnegut.

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  31. I used to write for real letters. I even had pen pals. Many of them. I was good at writing letters. In some ways, I miss all of that.

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  32. Aw, Luanne, they are brilliant. I especially like: "The fruits of success, as measured in lifelong satisfaction, are far more meaningful." So, so true.

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  33. Very nice. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. You snuck in while I was replying.

      And thanks! I'm channeling my grandmother vibe today. :))

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  34. M.L. - I hear Chopra's voice in my head when I read it too. I'm like that with any author I've heard speak before. Of course, I also have voices for each of you. I don't know what anyone actually sounds like, but it's just something we do with characters, isn't it.

    Mary - I know it probably sounds a little self-indulgent, but it's true. Art begins very personally for most of us.

    Andrew - I remember you said you had a decades long pen pal friend. Amazing. I did write to someone in Australia when I was a kid for a few months. Part of a school assignment. I wonder if they still do that with classes?

    Lynda - SO true. Learning it more as I get older. :))

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  35. All of these are excellent. Very inspiring. That last one about writing helping you to discover what you believe... absolutely true. I think that I have lived that truth more in writing my blog than anywhere else. When you keep it real you have to find out what you care about... and that helps to define what you believe. I think we are all growing all of the time, so things can shift. And that is amazing.

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  36. The instinct to share the wealth of knowledge that you have accumulated with a loved one, is a noble one.

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  37. Robin - Well said! Flaubert has a lot of great quotes about writing. Very quotable. But that one definitely resonates with me too.

    Laoch - I could write a month's worth of posts about the awesome that was my grandmother. :))

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  38. Maybe they will teach the art of letter writing in school one day as part of a history lesson! Excellent quotes by the way.

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  39. I do miss getting letters in my mail box. I go a week without checking the box because I know there is only bills and advertising. Can't say my e-mails are any better though.

    .........dhole

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  40. I was so impressed by Vonnegut's quote, had no idea what Chopra was getting at, and find Flaubert's quote sums up why I'm having so much trouble with my WIP. I think at the end, the book really has to be about me and my beliefs, though perhaps more diplomatically explored. Thank you so much for sharing these and the nostalgia of your grandmother's letters. Food for thought -- and that's why I love your blog so much. :-)

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  41. Wendy - I think you're right about letter writing getting relegated to history. I've heard they aren't even going to teach cursive writing anymore. No need for it.

    Donna - Yeah, I can go a week without checking the box too and find nothing but junk. My emails, on the other hand, are nothing to complain about. :))

    Lexa - Vonnegut had a very whimsical, childlike side to him, which I love. And the Chopra excerpt makes more sense if you read the whole article. Mostly going on about how personal growth is the best measurement of success stuff. But you probably already know that. ;)

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  42. *sigh* That was lovely! After being up 22 hours for election, I'm tired. I need this lift.

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  43. My dad lives in a different state from where I go to school so we like to write each other letters :)

    Kurt Vonnegut is is awesome. Truly! And I've found that I define my own success. What's a victory for me may be the starting line for someone else and that's totally okay!

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  44. Donna - Oh, you definitely were in need of some uplifting sentiments then!

    And I'm enjoying your book. :)

    Samantha - That's cool you still write actual letters. Students need care packages, too.

    And that sense of success goes back to that very good advice of learning not to compare ourselves to others. That way lies madness. :)

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  45. I used to write letters to my grandmother, too - but boy was her handwriting hard to decipher!

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  46. Thank you so much for your support. L.G.

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  47. Marcy - My teenaged son can't read my cursive. He has no use for it at all and never really learned to do it. The handwritten letter has gone the way of the 8-track tape.

    Carole - Hugs. I do hope things go well in the coming days.

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  48. This is such an amazing post! I enjoyed reading this very much.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  49. Of course it's more than to sell books but wouldn't it be sooooo amazing if we could actually ..live from our writing?

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  50. There are some important messages to keep in mind here. I especially love the one from Chopra. Thanks for sharing this with us!

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  51. Gina - Aw, glad you like the quotes!

    unikorna - It would be amazing. But, ironically, I have this theory that the way you get to that level is by writing from the heart and pleasing yourself first, rather than chasing a trend or trying to time the market. It's an unproven theory though. :P

    Bonnee - I don't read a lot of Chopra, but I did like what he said in that short article. :)

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  52. Writing can be much deeper than just selling books. It can be self-fulfillment, and it's amazing what you can find out about yourself. It's also scary because at times you feel that you're giving part of yourself away to the reader, which you would rather remained hidden.
    I must join the Insecure Writer's Group.

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  53. I would like to think that I can achieve the fruits of success for myself, but there are days when I think no matter how hard I work, it will never happen.

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  54. Fanny - I am always happiest when I'm just writing for the sake of writing. It's when I think of opening it up to all that negative criticism out there that the "success" feelings begin to go away. It's why I have to learn not to use feedback as validation/invalidation.

    Michael - I guess that's why we have to learn to please ourselves. But as far as externals, like making money, yeah, that's always hard to figure out why it works for some and not for others when everyone is working hard. The Chopra article does give some credibility to the idea of luck playing a part. Sometimes I think it does -- right time right place sometimes happens for those who are prepared.

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  55. I love the Vonnegut quote. I may have to join that group: "Insecure Writer" is practically my tagline. For comfort, I turn to Dorothy Parker, who wrote this telegram to her editor when she was feeling down: "THIS IS INSTEAD OF TELEPHONING BECAUSE I CANT LOOK YOU IN THE VOICE. I SIMPLY CANNOT GET THAT THING DONE YET NEVER HAVE DONE SUCH HARD NIGHT AND DAY WORK NEVER HAVE SO WANTED ANYTHING TO BE GOOD AND ALL I HAVE IS A PILE OF PAPER COVERED WITH WRONG WORDS. CAN ONLY KEEP AT IT AND HOPE TO HEAVEN TO GET IT DONE. DONT KNOW WHY IT IS SO TERRIBLY DIFFICULT OR I SO TERRIBLY INCOMPETANT [sic]. DOROTHY."

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    1. By the way, that's also from Letters of Note. :) http://www.lettersofnote.com/2011/06/i-cant-look-you-in-voice.html

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  56. Wonderful "clippings". It's perfect timing for me too. :)

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  57. Stephanie - That's a great telegram. Who can't relate to that? Paper covered in all the wrong words!!!! Yep, been there done that. :)) And isn't Letters of Note the coolest site? Love it.

    Southy - I swear, I have to keep reading inspirational stuff like that just to keep me from going under some days. Really, writing isn't for wimps. :)

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  58. Writing is who I am -- well, maybe 70%. Great post!

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    1. Definitely. And the other thirty percent is…water? :P

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  59. Hi Luanne ... wonderful passages - I think I fall into your grandmother's half - this place is full of newspaper cuttings I've found interesting ... one day (soon I hope) I'll do something about them!

    Aren't they ... essentials to the learning and expanding our brain cells, getting us out there questioning as much as possible ...

    Love your answer ... water?! Cheers and a great ISWG ... Hilary

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  60. Nice! I'm a little late to the party, but I love those quotes! Thank you. I don't thing there's a day that goes by that I can't use some encouragement.

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  61. I miss getting letters and cards in the mail. When I lived abroad, I loved getting the mail because I'd always get letters from friends back home. I miss those times...

    Love the Flaubert quote!

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  62. Hilary - Your blog is very much like a collection of interesting newspaper articles you've saved up for people. :))

    Crystal - It's silly, but I can read something like that and truly have an "aha" moment. Love that Vonnegut letter. :)

    MM - I miss getting paper letters too. They were something to treasure. I hardly even get Christmas cards anymore. Mailboxes these days seem to be nothing more than junk mail repositories.

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  63. Loved reading your post Luanne. My mother does the same thing with articles though they are usually about health epidemics or old high-school buddies.
    ~Just Jill

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    1. Oops-- I wanted to say thanks for the uplifting post. We need more of that in the blogosphere.
      ~J

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  64. This was a lovely post. Your grandmother sounded like a sweetie. I liked all the quotes, but I especially liked Vonnegut's. Write now I am working on a book, a "cosy mystery" that I have always wanted to write. Not this particular story, but this kind of story. I've written a few books, but this one is really giving me so much pleasure, even though I have no idea where the finished product will end up. The writing of it is the thing.

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  65. Jill - I'm already doing it to my son, though through e-mail. I send him stuff all the time that I think he should read. I really am going to be THAT mother when he moves out. :P

    Elizabeth - Love that Vonnegut letter-- mostly because after reading some of his stuff and realizing the emotional hurt he was able to express, it's a delightful sentiment coming from someone like him. :))

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  66. As a kid, I had quite a lengthy correspondence list. Sad to say, I rarely write letters now--i do to a few military and family who are also military because I know they treasure the letters.

    I do like your *clippings*. I agree with KV--whatever it is makes your soul grow teaches you who you are inside. I've always believed that success is not measure by comparison or labels. Success is measured by inches and effort and rewarded the same and again in the soul.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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  67. You haven't posted anything new in almost 20 days, sister Lu, all well over in snowy Colorado?

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  68. Sia - Yeah, it's tough to let go of all that comparison stuff and just be happy with your own work. That's the lesson for me.

    Dezzy - I'm have a hellacious experience with a new dentist I went to see. Been on pain meds for almost two weeks now. Not fun. :(

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    1. Oh, noes, I knew something was wrong, I just felt it with my sixth sense :( Is you better now, or still in pain? Do you still have the tooth?
      A young dentist once stuck an instrument in my gums so wildly and painfully that I've chose to 'accidentally' punch him in his balls with my elbow... I say 'accidentally', but spies never do anything unplanned :) He deserved it....

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    2. Your Spidey senses were tingling. :) Yeah, I broke two back teeth and need crowns, but the temporary one they put in is KILLING me. Finally it fell off and I've left it off until my stupid dentist gets back in the office. I'm exhausted from dealing with twelve days of pain. In fact I just slept for two hours in the middle of the day. I never do that. The anomaly of it must have radiated throughout the blogosphere all the way to Hollywood Spy territory. :PPPP

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    3. Oh, dear, how did you manage to break two back teeth? Crunching nuts? Got into a prison fight to remind yourself of the good old days? :PP
      Here, we don't even get temporary ones, while you wait a few days for the new crowns to be modelled, you go around like a toothless freak :)

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    4. Ha! Yeah, I'm going with a bar fight. LOL. Actually, I'm a bit of a clencher. I must really lock my jaw down when I sleep. And now I'm afraid this toothless freak will have to have a root canal too. :(

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  69. This is such a great post! I really enjoyed reading this.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  70. I'm a bit behind but had to leave a comment on this! Loved this, my mom did this too- she'd go through countless magazines and clip things she thought I should read- great snippets of wisdom or sweet stories that she thought would cheer me up or make me feel like a better mom or whatever. Not sure if that has some part in me becoming a quote junkie.
    Loved the Kurt Vonnegut letter, I snagged that one for my stash :)

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    1. Yeah, I miss getting stuff from my grandmother in the mail. It was her showing an interest in my life and caring about what I thought the way only a parent or grandparent can. And glad you liked that Vonnegut letter. Letters of Note is a fabulous site to follow. :)

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