Elizabeth: Emotional Impact

My week of vacation had barely started on Saturday when I burst into tears.

It was a great day.

Hmm . . . perhaps I should explain.

After a long, long, long wait, I finally got a chance to see a performance of Hamilton this Saturday.  The first time the show came to town the performances were completely sold out in a heartbeat.  I diligently entered the ticket lottery every day but, sadly, was never successful.  I was disappointed, not just because I wanted to see the show, but because I had been trying to get the tickets for my son, who really, really wanted to see the show.

Alas, no tickets.

Instead, I gave him the book, Hamilton the Revolution, which has all of the lyrics and story notes and such, and a promise of tickets “someday.”

This year, “someday” finally appeared on the calendar – it was this Saturday as a matter of fact.  We hopped on the train, headed to the city, and made our way to the beautiful Orpheum theater with a few thousand other folks.

Now, American history is not my strong suit, but I knew the basic gist of what would happen in the show.  I’d seen a behind-the-scenes documentary about it on the local PBS station, and my son had helpfully gone through the songs in the first act with me, so I’d have a clue what they were saying.

Nevertheless, as the final song was sung and the audience was surging to their feet with applause at the end of the performance, I was crying like a baby who’d been completely caught by surprise.

How did the creators (and cast) do that? Continue reading

Nancy: Romance is the Shizzle

OK, that might be a terrible and decidedly dated title for a blog post, but what’s important here is the message. Romance is hot! I’m not talking about 4-alarm heat levels based sexual explicitness. I’m talking about the state of the market. While other fiction genres struggle to recover from the hit book buying took last November (after something happened…something cataclysmic and unprecedented…ring any bells?), the romance genre is leading the pack in rebounding.

According to an article on Salon.com titled Welcome to the Romance Resistance, booksellers, publishers, and indie authors are reporting record sales in the genre. The article credits the escapism the genre offers its readers, something many women (remembering that women make up 84% of romance’s readers) are seeking  during these trouble times. No doubt there’s something to that. But other genres offer escapism, too, so what else is romance offering its readers?

It’s another e word. Empowerment. We’re seeing tremendous pushes toward regression in women’s rights, on issues ranging from workplace protections to bodily autonomy. Much of the romance genre provides a ballast to this frightening trend. Authors across the genre write about heroines who are smart, capable, and full of agency. Heroines who are empowered.

We’ve seen how threatening empowered women are to the powers that be and the pushback that women’s societal strides forward have engendered. But we must keep that forward momentum. When fighting the good fight exhausts us, we can take a break and sink into a good book for a little bit of escapism and a big dose of ‘woman power’.

Friend of the blog Jennifer Crusie has said romance is the most subversively feminist genre she’s ever read. That subversion, and the escapism, empowerment, and celebration it brings with it are center stage right now. So let your romance flags fly, readers and writers of this awesome genre!


Note: This week, whether you’re stoking your creativity by writing your own romance story or immersing yourself in someone else’s story world, how about a little musical accompaniment? Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash Broadway hit Hamilton, has undertaken a musical project to help victims of Hurricane Maria. If you want to hear him talk about the creative process of writing and recording the song Almost Like Praying with a whole host of Latinx stars, check out NPR’s interview with Miranda. To get straight to the music, check out the video on YouTube. Whether you stream the song or buy, the proceeds go to the Hispanic Federation’s Hurricane Relief Fund.

Nancy: I’m Baa-aack – Joie D’Ecriture, and Alexander Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton

Hello friends! After a brief and unexpected hiatus, I’m back at 8LW. Oh, how I’ve missed you! Since it’s been a while, I’m behind on reporting status on my 2016 non-writing, creativity-building exercises. Remember those, from way back in January? They are my 5-step plan to finding zen, inspiration, and joy in writing this year.

So let’s dish about February. The first two exercises on my list – learn new things and make mental connections between what I learn and story – happen pretty automagically. It’s what our writer brains are wired to do. I’m still taking notes, capturing inspiration when it strikes, and looking forward to the time when I can put all that brain work to use in my own stories.

The other things on my list require a little more action on my part. Making social connections and drinking really good wine at least once a month are, believe it or not, harder than they sound when you are myopically focused on something as stressful and all-consuming as my day job currently is. But I knocked those out of the park! The first week of the month, when I returned from my weekly trip out of town, I returned home to find my husband had bought me a bottle of 2012 Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir. (There’s a reason that man is the love of my life.) So the ‘drinking good wine’ part of my plan was easy peasy.

The social connection was much more difficult. I’m spending all day, every day, seven days a week with people at work. Who wants to see more people after that? But I had a plan, remember? Continue reading