Life, inch by inch – Writing about the the small things

I don’t write about how to write.  There are so many who do it better, both the writing, and the writing about writing.

I write about the journey.  My journey, which, as a blogger, starts every day with a blank screen.

The white void.  In graphic design terms, the negative space.  How apt.

My favorite writer about writing is Anne Lamott. If you don’t have her book, Bird by Bird, buy it.  Right now. I’ll wait.

She advocates starting with small assignments. Writing what you can see in a one-inch picture frame.  I have one sitting on my desk, just for that purpose.  It’s bedazzled. It makes me feel better when I can’t think of anything to say, which happens a lot.

But then I look through that frame and I see the world.  My husband, who I try not to write about, since he probably reads this blog.  My son, who I do write about, because I know he doesn’t read this blog.  The career I left behind, which I will write about someday when I don’t have to worry about pissing off a former client  or begging for my job back because my husband’s been hit by a bus.  And the new career.  Me and about a million other aspiring writers.

Of course there are really huge, important, socially relevant topics–prejudice, sexism, hunger, oppression, dysfunctional politics.  As with writing about writing, other people write about those topics much better than I can. Some can’t and do so anyway.  I’ll let them.

Truth is, I like seeing the world through that one-inch window.  I love how green my grass looks at 7 a.m.  The smell of violin polish.  New music. The pile of books next to my bed.  Hot showers. Looking at pictures of my son when his teeth seemed too big for the rest of his face.  The funny stories he used to tell, that he still tells.  My friends, who I love like sisters.  My sisters (and my brother) who I love more than anything else, other than my husband, who I don’t write about, because he probably reads this blog.

My last career was all about big-picture thinking, which has its merits. Transforming businesses, seeing my ideas take root, was rewarding.  But after a while, it wasn’t enough.  I wanted the world in the one-inch window.  And I’m happy.  I miss the salary and the benefits and the occasional stay in a really nice hotel, but I’m happy.

I can fit everything that matters into that one-inch window, and still have room for paper, a pencil, and all the love in my heart.  And chocolate.  There’s always room for chocolate.

Take a moment today to appreciate what’s in your window, and tell me about it.  If you like the blog, feel free to press the little button on the right that says “Follow.”

Words by J. B. Everett

Photograph by Leigh Spencer

8 comments on “Life, inch by inch – Writing about the the small things

  1. Christine says:

    Thank god you don’t write about your sisters!

  2. Claire Cappetta says:

    How true, there should always room for chocolate 🙂

  3. Melanie Cole says:

    beautiful post. Loved everything about it, the way you wrote it and everything you said. Lovely job.

  4. elissa field says:

    Jeannine, I love your reminder about writing what could be seen through a 1 inch frame. I am a Bird by Bird fan as well, although it’s been awhile since I read it. It is so true – how much more concrete a picture you paint, to say you love the smell of violin polish, compared to generalizing to say you are a musician. I enjoyed your post!

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