Monday, February 16, 2015

Thanks, Elizabeth Gilbert – I needed that!

This morning I attended an advanced fiction workshop taught by Mary-Rose Hayes (, entitled “Don’t Be Afraid of Dialogue."

Just reading her biography made my head swim. Get this: she has written six novels, including WHAT SHE HAD TO DO, and has co-authored two political thrillers with Senator Barbara Boxer. She’s written optioned screenplays, been a script editor in London, a travel correspondent in Tripoli, a librarian in Northern Ireland during “turbulent times.” She has worked in public relations and advertising in New York and San Francisco, and also as a free-lance book editor, a research assistant at the Harvard
Medical School and a fashion model in London and San Francisco. She’s even sailed a 41’ sailboat across the Atlantic.

Just as I was sinking into despair over how little I’ve accomplished in comparison, my friend Jane Andrews, the wonderful writer and editor based in Raleigh, sent me an article this morning from the Huffington Post. Exquisite timing!!

The article’s by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS and is entitled, “The Best Thing You Can Do For Yourself – and All The Women Around You.” For the full article, please go to Please!

In the article, Gilbert urges women to stop stressing themselves sick over the pathological fear that they simply aren’t doing enough with their lives. “It's terribly frustrating for me to witness this endless second-guessing. The problem is,” she says, “I do it, too. Despite having written five books, I worry that I have not written the right kinds of books, or that perhaps I have dedicated too much of my life to writing, and have therefore neglected other aspects of my being. (Like, I could really stand to lose 10 pounds.)”

Gilbert’s final paragraph has resonance for a lot of us. “Let's just anticipate that we (all of us) will disappoint ourselves somehow. Go ahead and let it happen. Let somebody else be a better mother than you for one afternoon. Let somebody else go to art school. Let somebody else have a happy marriage, while you foolishly pick the wrong guy. (Hell, I've done it; it's survivable.) While you're at it, take the wrong job. Move to the wrong city. Lose your temper in front of the boss, quit training for that marathon, wolf down a truckload of cupcakes the day after you start your diet. Blow it all catastrophically, in fact, and then start over with good cheer. This is what we all must learn to do, for this is how maps get charted  by taking wrong turns that lead to surprising passageways that open into spectacularly unexpected new worlds. So just march on. Future generations will thank you  trust me  for showing the way, for beating brave new footpaths out of wonky old mistakes. Fall flat on your face if you must, but please, for the sake of us all, do not stop. Map your own life.”

Wow. Once I absorb this, I’ll come back and tell you what Mary-Rose Hayes had to say in her workshop. Thanks, Jane, and thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert!

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