Summer Writing Time: Poetry and Murder, She Wrote

I am fortunate to devote much of my summer to writing. Just like last year, I'm spending the warm months of 2014 traveling and working on new creative projects. However, this summer is a bit different than the last because I finished the manuscript I was working on for the past two years. While that book floats around to potential publishers, I am starting a new project, but getting the ball rolling is always difficult.

In the midst of my slow start, I've been thinking about a speech the fictional writer Jessica Fletcher (played by Angela Lansbury) delivers in a Murder, She Wrote TV movie. Murder, She Wrote inspired me to start writing when I was a little boy. When I re-watched the series and its four subsequent made-for-television films, I was intrigued by how supportive it is toward writers. Jessica Fletcher being the prime example, it shows them to be interesting, kind, and hard-working. Fletcher also runs into a variety of wordsmiths (mystery novelists, poets, playwrights, children's book authors) from across the globe, each cultivating a creative life that enriches their own experience as well as those around them. We do not see portraits like this too often; more likely than not, writers are dismissed as neurotics and loafers in pop culture. Thank goodness Angela Lansbury's iconic show can act as an anecdote.

The Murder, She Wrote clip that has been most inspirational to me lately comes from the second TV movie,  A Story to Die For. As the film opens, Jessica Fletcher is delivering a motivational speech for a lecture series, during which she professes, "What matters is the quality of your writing and the quiet determination of your most secret heart." (The speech begins at the 1:10 mark in the video below.) During the speech she gives some good advice: that you can start writing at any time, to keep going, that writing is often difficult and will require you to throw out a lot of failed starts, and that persevering comes from "patience, direction, determination, and strength." None of these are revelations, of course, but important reminders. With them in mind, I keep working.

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