In a Hurry

PhotobucketI don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but I’m working on book chapters for a nonfiction assignment. Specifically, I’m providing the chapters on nutrition and fitness for a new book on self care. Cool, eh? So I hope you’ll forgive me if I point you toward an interesting blog post today instead of attempting to write one myself. Today’s best bet: Read Janet Reid’s post on making mistakes by defying conventional wisdom, HERE. Then come on back and tell us what you thought.

I liked this, too, from this week’s Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the woman who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen, born Karen Dinesen on a rural estate called Rungsted near Copenhagen, Denmark (1885). Her grandfather was a friend of Hans Christian Andersen. Her father committed suicide when she was 10 years old, and she spent the rest of her childhood in a house full of women: her mother, her grandmother, and all her aunts. As a girl, she loved listening to stories about Danish mythology, ghosts, or the magical powers of women.

As a young woman, she and her husband moved to Africa to try being colonial farmers. In order to pass the time there she wrote her first collection of short stories, Seven Gothic Tales (1934). The book was full of wild, magical tales. One story is about a group of people telling jokes while trying to survive a flood. Another is about a woman who exchanges her soul with an ape. Dinesen said, “Truth is for tailors and shoemakers. … I, on the contrary, have always held that the Lord has a penchant for masquerades.”

Dinesen had written Seven Gothic Tales in English, and the book made her famous in the United States and England. But when she translated it into Danish, the critics in Denmark attacked it as shallow fantasy. She kept copies of the negative reviews for the rest of her life.

Her American publisher wanted her to write a new book as soon as possible, to capitalize on her success, so she decided to write about her experiences in Africa. Instead of writing an ordinary memoir, she wrote about her time in Africa as though it was a half-remembered dream in her book Out of Africa (1937).

She wrote, “Looking back on a sojourn in the African high-lands, you are struck by your feeling of having lived for a time up in the air.

And, “[I watched] elephants … pacing along as if they had an appointment at the end of the world … [and I once saw a] lion … crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears.”

Don’t forget to check in with the WU Google Notebook when you can. (Ignore the screwy mis-dating at the top; everything’s recent.)

Write on, all!


About Therese Walsh

Therese Walsh co-founded Writer Unboxed in 2006. Her second novel, The Moon Sisters, was named a Best Book of 2014 by Library Journal and BookRiot. Her debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, sold to Random House in a two-book deal in 2008, was named one of January Magazine’s Best Books, and was a Target Breakout Book. She's never been published with a lit magazine, but LOST's Carlton Cuse liked her Twitter haiku best and that made her pretty happy.


  1. theamcginnis says

    yes, my fear of making a mistake-anxiety provoking worry about making mistakes – my anxiety ridden paralysis – need to discuss with my therapist. i used to fear getting lost while driving – the amount of stress i put on myself was awful. and then once i got lost with my dad in pittsburgh – if you’ve been to pittsburgh you might notice that the streets are very confusing, and don’t make sense like manhattan’s grids – anyway, i started to panic but my dad just said let’s follow the railroad tracks (those tracks must run N-S (or E-W, don’t remember) but we did follow them and came back to where we wanted to be. And since then I’ve gotten lost a lot, but I usually just follow my compass and amazingly enough i get back. being lost and fear of making mistakes – they are long time themes in my life. sigh

  2. says

    This nugget from Reid was awesome:

    1. Query everyone. Forget that crap about honing a list and researching what agents like. Query everyone. If they say no, so what. Maybe just maybe you’ll find an agent looking to branch out, looking for a fabulous new voice, looking for you. The cost of querying right now is damn near zero since you can query almost everyone by email.

    Thanks, Therese!

  3. Gail Clark says

    Therese, Janet Reid’s advice was exactly just right for me at this very point in time! Thanks so much for the link. I think the girls could probably benefit from a dose of this as well. Perhaps you should link it or mention it, if you think it would be okay. Thanks again for sharing the brilliant advice!