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Slice of Life: Follow the Story

This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity on Tuesdays through the year. Hosted by Two Writing Teachers, we look for the small things in life to write about.

I feel regular panic about not knowing exactly what story I'm after. I feel like a fake sometimes when I get an assignment to write a story for Mother Jones, The Week, or Public Radio International. I sit and agonize over how to make my writing acceptable enough for them, over how to make sure my story is fabulous. So, I've been reading this book:
"We are rewarded from childhood on for providing answers to questions posed by others. We are taught to process information by memorizing it and retaining it, not by questioning it. Confronted daily by a mass of new information, we rarely stop to consider what is missing. 
So many people seem to spend their lives in the inevitably futile quest for certainty. Often this takes the form of religion, which for many provides solace in the face of the unknown and the unknowable.
Questioners, by and large, are viewed as dissidents, heretics, and malcontents. 
No wonder the unanswered question prompts such a visceral reaction. Some people seem to panic, others suffer anxiety attacks, and most people feel uncomfortable. To varying degrees, all of us react this way. But instead of repressing or fleeing from such feelings, writers need to embrace them and explore their causes. They are important clues (Stewart, p. 16)."
That is where I am today. I am not fleeing, but I am uncomfortable.


  1. I believe we are taught to 'get it right', that there is certainty. Perhaps that's why many of us are shaken by this election? So much appears to hang with Trump's decisions, and that uncertainty leaves us with little comfort. But, to question is always right. So I'm often thinking about old wisdom: "What's good for the goose is NOT always good for the gander" and on. Glad to hear your own discomfort, which feels good to me.

  2. Oh good. That means you will be super motivated to write and think your way to a more comfortable place. It means the writing will be heartfelt. And we'll be the beneficiaries for reading along!

  3. We always seem to find the path forward through a place of questions and tangles. This looks like a wonderful book.

  4. This excerpt from the book is very thought provoking. Oftentimes, that discomfort leads us to wonderful new discoveries. I am going to look into this book. It looks like a good one for me.

  5. Uncertainty can freeze us in our tracks but moving forward helps us find our way... small shaky steps lead to bigger, more confident ones.

  6. Uncertainty can freeze us in our tracks but moving forward helps us find our way... small shaky steps lead to bigger, more confident ones.

  7. When you're uncomfortable, you're on to something! Nice to hear your thoughts. (Jennifer Sniadecki)

  8. It is that discomfort when writing that makes me sometimes wonder why we want to do it at all. But then we experience the thrill of bringing it all together -- and realize then that the pain was worth it. Keep swimming, friend!

  9. This is exactly what I face each day with my gifted students. They just want to get it right. But more often I am teaching them to stay in the struggle. The unknowing is what ultimately guides us to discovery.

  10. "I am not fleeing, but I am uncomfortable."


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