Photograph of San Francisco sunrise by Ellen Blum Barish
“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
It’s been a new year’s resolution of mine — for many years now — to reimagine my website and blog and this, finally, was the year!
My intention is to blog – more frequently – about writing process, craft and inspiration through stories from my own writing and teaching-writing life and to link you to provocative and thoughtful pieces, writing prompts and tools on the short personal narrative form.
I’m a cheerleader for the creative process, which we all know can be slow, lonely, surprising and magnificent — often at the same time. My mission is to inspire you to open your window and urge us both to the page.
Feel free to leave comments and/or to share bits of your writing adventures.
My window is always open.
I’ve been sending out print or electronic family new year’s greetings since 1992 when my youngest daughter reached her first birthday. Every year, I struggle with what to say. I have yet to get into the year-in-review highlights letter (but never say never I always say) so I usually stick with one or two lines.
Here are some examples:
In 2011, under a photo of my husband and two daughters standing in front of a range of Colorado mountains:
May you reach your mountaintop with views that take your breath away in the year to come.
In 2000, under a photo of my husband and two, much younger daughters, bundled up in winter coats in our backyard:
Hoping this season finds you – and keeps you – warm and cozy. ‘Til we see you again…
In 1995, the four of us in an apple orchard:
Wishing you all things colorful, juicy and ripe for the picking this holiday season…
You get the idea.
In each of these, the season, setting and/or stray details steered the language to link the photograph to the wish.
To help the reader, see.
That’s what we want to do with our writing. Go from the abstract to the concrete and back to the abstract again.
Here’s what I mean by that: Wishing someone a happy new year is in some ways an abstract concept. In what way do you want them to be happy? What could that look like? There are so many choices!
It’s more concrete to wish them the chance to “reach their mountaintop” or stay “warm and cozy” or the option to pick things “ripe and juicy.” But these are also images that are imbued with multiple meanings. Metaphor.
So think about the abstract-concrete-abstract idea when you are looking to layer your pieces. And let me know how it goes. I’d love to post examples in this space.