Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Enjoys the Process

One day, while on a break at the bank I worked at in college, I stopped at a local Goodwill to do some book shopping. At this time in my life I was in the middle of an entire course focused on the works of John Milton and was about twelve credits shy of my English degree. To say that I was tired of reading would be an understatement. I was tired of books, of school, and of anything having to do with a quad. My stop at Goodwill was more of a way to kill time than anything else.

(On that note, Goodwill is hands-down the greatest place on the planet to shop for books. More on this later.)

The book I picked up was called The Book of Ruth, by Jane Hamilton. It changed my life. I remember sitting in my room, dripping wet tears from my chin to the pages, and forcing myself to read slower so I could enjoy the book longer. Since then, I have never walked into a bookstore without thinking of Ruth. Every book I have bought since then has been with the hope that it would move me in such a profound way. (Many have, thankfully).

Tonight I went to a speaking event featuring Jane Hamilton. When I first heard she was coming to town I had a moment that I think many tweens had this summer when they heard Miley Cyrus was coming though. I had been looking forward to it for weeks and was nervous all day today.

I worried that Jane Hamilton was going to be strange and inaccessible, like so many writers tend to be. She wasn't. She read a brilliant essay about re-reading Heart of Darkness in adulthood and admitted that she has met many writers who themselves can't answer the discussion questions at the back of their novels inserted by the publishers. At one point she took off her jacket and slipped a Golden Girls era dress on over her slacks to show us just how far she's come since being a writing teacher on a cruise line.

I was in book nerd heaven.

When she opened the floor up for questions I asked her what any woman in her thirties who dreams someday of writing for life might ask. I asked her, voice wavering, what the writing process is like for her, and how she goes about starting her work.

She talked awhile about voice and character, and then she added, 'But the thing is that I try to enjoy the writing part. The publishing is great, but that's not what I love about writing. What I love is the process. I take the time to enjoy the process.'

A woman in her thirties enjoys the process, I thought to myself. I like it. Now get to enjoying.


  1. I love this pearl of wisdom. It's so terribly easy to focus on the destination and miss the ride. Asking myself, "Am I enjoying the process?" also seems like it could be a useful tool for checking in with myself about whether I should be doing some of the things I do.

    Note to self: take L. Shanna to used bookstores when she visits.

  2. Synchronicity moves again! Only by slowing down have I noticed the very point your author makes. Since I put the Little Writer on hiatus, my writing has felt more enjoyable and interesting. I even submitted a piece to a writing group... just 900 words, but it felt great.

    I'm so glad you commented about your experience... and very happy you got to meet someone you admire so much. What a thrill!

    (I've created a new blog where I can post about my spiritual journey... it helps to have an outlet for that while saving my writing for private time at home. Hope to see you there!)