“A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement” by Barbara Abercrombie. I had specifically asked for a review copy of this book because I know many people who read The Magical Buffet are professional writers, looking to become professional writers, or are happily dedicated writers in their spare time. However looking at it now I thought, dangerously? A wee bit pretentious aren’t we? Of course on the other hand I found myself thinking, dangerously? How exciting! I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of inspiration and encouragement one finds in a year of writing dangerously. I also found myself wondering if by chance author Barbara Abercrombie was in anyway related or connected to the Abercrombie & Fitch stores, and if so could she get them to turn their damn music down?
Finally I realized that rather than wonder I could do something crazy like, I don’t know, read the book? I swear, I’m a genius. Someone get me a delicious cupcake! In the meantime, let me tell you what I discovered. “A Year of Writing Dangerously” is an infectious book, which I mean in the best way possible. You cannot help but be inspired by it. Each day has an anecdote or one of Abercrombie’s observations, which for me inspired responses ranging from jaw dropping to cheering, and a related quote from an impressive array of writers, we’re talking Tennessee Williams to Anne Rice and more! For those looking for even more from “A Year of Writing Dangerously”, Abercrombie offers 52 weeks of writing prompts at the back of the book. These are little exercises to help you practice like; write about a time you didn’t show up, write down two or three things you know for sure, or write about a time you had to wing it.
But, dangerously? Abercrombie briefly addresses the “danger” in her introduction, but I think days five and six do it better. As to not go totally spoiler-ific you’ll have to buy the book to get the tasty word tortilla that wraps these spice fillings. (Can you tell I’m typing this while waiting for dinner?)
Writing is dangerous because you might get caught.
Sometimes it feels dangerous to know what I really feel. Because if I acknowledge my feelings outside the boundaries of my own heart and mind, if I open up the latch to my subconscious and let those precious secrets leak out, God knows what will happen. I might have to hold myself accountable to these thoughts and feelings. I might have to act upon them. I might have to change. I might have to stop lying to myself and others about what I need and want. I might have to ask for what I need and want. I might have to be a disappointment; I might have to be disappointed; I will disappoint.
Can you say a whispered wow? That’s what I mean by stuff that can make your jaw drop. Oh yeah, now we’re writing dangerously.
Now I’m totally me-o-centric so I wanted to know what the entry is for my birthday, so my husband Jim stepped up and casually did the math (while making dinner) and figured out what day is mine when it’s not a leap year. So as to give you the full idea as to what a day is like here is mine, day 149, “The DVD in Your Head”.
Maybe the essay you’re writing, or the memoir or novel, has now taken up residence in your inner life, like a DVD playing inside your head. Maybe as you go to sleep at night, you’re working on your story, you dream it. And when you brush your teeth in the morning, you’re thinking about it, seeing flashbacks of your own life or your characters hovering behind you. If it’s a book you’re working on, you imagine what the cover will look like. Articles you read in the newspaper or online, things you observe, hear on radio or TV – everything starts to connect to your work.
Maybe you already have a draft of an essay or short story you’ve written that needs to sit for a while for you to get some perspective on it, and you’re looking for the subject of your next one. What you look for you usually find.
Or maybe not. Maybe you’re stuck. But the only way to become unstuck is to keep showing up, to keep writing. And trust that when you do show up, something will be playing in your unconscious.
“The physical act of sitting at your computer writing down words is important of course but your unconscious mind is also doing a lot of work for you. If you show up. If you hold your characters in you mind, if you constantly look at the world for ideas to go into your book.” – Walter Mosley
And that’s “A Year of Writing Dangerously”; Barbara Abercrombie, with the help of others, does her best to encourage, empathize, and inspire you to take on another day of writing.
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