Inspired By.

Guilty pleasure confession: I've seen it about a million times now, but I love the first Sex and the City movie. [The second movie was horrible - a floppy storyline that was thrown together as what I hope will be a last ditch effort for another $300,000,000.]

Now go ahead. I know you want to. 

Groan and roll your eyes and say, "Bethany, I thought you had better taste than to watch those heathens!" all you want, but I'm a sucker for a writerly heroine, any story line related to relationships and romance, and the fashion and glitz of a thriving metropolis like New York City. So, I watched the movie again last night, and googled "Love Letters of Great Men, Volume I." Turns out, it was a fake book that Carrie was reading at the beginning of the film, until a Mr. John C. Kirkland realized that women round the world were now dying to get there hands on such a book, and so he compiled it. Genius. 

Amidst my googling I found this site, and couldn't resist sharing this note from the lovely Man in Black, Johnny Cash. 


Hey June, 

That's really nice June. You've got a way with words and a way with me as well. 

The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don't go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout. 

Love John

The beauty of a handwritten note cannot be denied. There's just something about it that feels so raw and tangible in a way that digitized communication will never be able to emulate. I know that when I'm feeling stuck and disconnected to my writing self, the best thing I can do is close my laptop and grab a pen and my notebook. 

So my plea to you, instead of my usual Friday post of lovelinks, is short and simple and sappy to the core. 

Write  a letter. To yourself, to your love, to your friend, to your future, to anyone that might need it. Be poetic and passionate enough to scrawl your thoughts, messy and unhindered.

Leave something to be found when you're gone. 


National Coffee Day!

Let's all take a moment and give thanks for this wonderful, legally addictive substance that has provided vitality and gumption to writers round the world for centuries, this blog included.

[Image via.]


I'm Not the Story Weaver.

I am a writer. Consequently, my general outlook on life is a series of archetypes, themes, plots, summaries, critiques... there's a lot of pre-writing and re-writing going on in my head, and there's no switch to turn it off. All the world is a stage, you know.

But it's the endings I'm not good at. I'm a total sap when it comes to endings. Mostly, I envision that the story actually comes to an end, a resolution. I often realize much further on in my writing and reading that this is a false assumption.

Lately, I've begun to wonder about our fascination with the fairy-tale ending. We began by expecting it, and now we've become disillusioned with it, naturally.

But where does the fallacy lie in "happily ever after"?

Is there no such thing as happiness?

Or have we made a bad habit of ending the story at the wrong part?

So the prince and the princess get married... and???  What comes after that? What exactly constitutes the "happily ever after"? A fairy-tale prince or princess would never be unfaithful to one another. The prince would never be a deadbeat dad. The princess would never become a bitter, self-conscious old woman that drives her prince and her children crazy. They would never lose the castle, the talking livestock, and the pumpkin carriage in a faulty investment. They would never bicker or become alcoholics or abuse their kids. They would never die of terminal illnesses.

And yet, here we are. We live in a dichotomy of pure joy and pure tragedy. We find love and we find hate. We can't get rid of the evil stepsisters and the villains; quite often we are our own worst enemy. We make the best decisions we've ever made, and then we screw it up.

Maybe it's the ambiguity of it, the elusive "happiness" that leaves us confused and frustrated and empty when we try to live in the "ever after." The brokenness wasn't supposed to happen, but it did, and we can't see how it could ever be right again. We have no pre-text for what to do when we screw up, so the "happily ever after" plan is eradicated.

Or maybe it's that we've totally abandoned the possibility of redemption.

I yearn for the easy answer, the redemptive ending. I wish I could tie the strings of all our loose ends together so that our lives would never unravel as they so often do. I keep finding myself trying to weave it all together, tightly, to make it mean something, to make our stories and our selves whole again.

I think it's better if I just stop trying to rewrite the thing. Life is beautiful and gripping and horrific and triumphant and tragic enough on its own.

I'm not the Story-Weaver. I need to just keep reading.

[Image Source: None via Bethany on Pinterest]


book·ish : Punctuation Humor.

A little punctuation humor for your Monday:

Source: whoislauren.tumblr.com via Bethany on Pinterest



1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.*

*All items posted in the book·ish section are found by myself and posted of my own accord unless otherwise stated. If you would like to be a sponsor or host a giveaway, please contact me at shewritesandrights[at]gmail[dot]com.

Follow me and my bookish board on Pinterest!


Inspired By.

Writing my guest post for Ally this week really got me thinking about relationships. Not just marriage, but all relationships - to people, to art, to work, to a habit, to an idea. We commit ourselves to a variety of different things, in word and in deed, on a daily basis. Don't you think? And if you really think about it, your actions, your schedule, speak volumes about what you care about most. If you're looking back on this week and thinking, hmm... that's not what I want to be committed to, then you're not the only one.

You may be tempted to spend your weekend as a continuation of your work week, scrambling like mad to finish a project.


You may be tempted to avoid any form of work all together and park yourself in front of your television.


You may be tempted to cling to the period of your life when things felt so much easier than they do right now, when you were a carefree college kid without any real responsibilities.


Put down your smart phone.

Step away from your inbox.

Turn off the TV.

Let go of the if-onlys and the I-wish-I-weres.

Read a few of these links and be inspired to commit yourself to something good. A healthy relationship. A life full of adventure. A habit of learning and going and doing.


She's Married to Amazement.

I love this quote from Darrell about seeking direction versus wisdom:

"I can seek direction which is circumstantial, or seek the wisdom that will help direct my actions in all circumstances."

Possibly the most romantic stay-in date that I've heard of in a long time.

Rob asks the question: what's more important, a happy story or one that evokes strong emotion, even if it's depressing?

Commit to story. It's A Matter of Life and Death.

Confession: I'm an NPR addict. [Like you didn't already know that...] This story, like so many that I hear on a daily basis, had me in tears and reminded me of this post I wrote a few months back.

So what are you committing to this weekend, and what are you letting go of?

Happy Friday, friends. [And happy fall.]


Poem : How Many, How Much.

I heard a story on NPR this morning about one of my favorite poets, Shel Silverstein. His family is publishing a new collection of his poems this week called "Every Thing On It," which I can't wait to purchase. 

Did you read Shel Silverstein growing up? His Where the Sidewalk Ends was one of my favorite books as a kid. This is one of my favorite poems from that book that I still remember word for word nearly 15 years later. 

How Many, How Much.

How many slams in an old screen door? 
    Depends how loud you shut it. 
How many slices in a bread? 
    Depends how thin you cut it. 
How much good inside a day? 
    Depends how good you live 'em. 
How much love inside a friend? 
    Depends how much you give 'em.

I also love this Silverstein poem. Do you have a favorite?


bookish: Speaking of Shakespeare.

We speak Shakespeare a thousand times a day and don't even know it.


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.*

P.S. Remember these beauties?


Inspired By.

Today I'm thinking about authenticity. Writers have the ability and responsibility to wield words and create meaning. We can construct whole worlds of fiction and fantasy. We can give artistic flair to the everyday human experience.

And so I think to myself: whatever we do, whatever we say, however we act, should be authentic to who we are. A story, however edited and rewritten, should ring true. So I strive to live a life authentic to what I feel, and what I believe to be true. But, by my nature and because I am human, I succeed marginally at best. I get caught up in constructing authenticity. And then I lose it. I give in to the belief that this is what they'll want to read from me or this sounds better than the way it really happened or if I told them what I really think, they wouldn't take me seriously.

Do you ever do that, rearrange your thoughts around what you believe people will respond to?

Do you blog for the bandwagon? Post about things that you believe will initiate comments and page views and tweets, or do you blog about things that really matter to you, the writer?

Do you edit your thoughts and words at the expense of your true voice?

Do you edit others at the expense of the truth in their own words?

On the one hand, you write for your audience. You write to give them a thought, a moment illustrated, a word of encouragement, a benefit from your experience. But we have to strike that balance between sharing our gift with others and exercising our gift simply because it is what we are called to do.

I'm convicted by the thought that when we write, we should not just write about writing, but about our lives.

As a very wise professor I know recently explained,

Art is not about art. It's about everything else.

My blog is a blog about writing, but it is also a blog for my writing.

We can lose that authenticity and integrity for our work in a variety of ways, whether through writing about writing to avoid writing truth, or editing our thoughts and experiences to garner attention.

Here are a few posts from the interwebs that I appreciate for their authenticity.

The best reflection out of the many that were shared over the past week.

What good is a relationship without confrontation and commitment?

Is it right, or does it just feel right? How my generation deals with morality.

These bloggers are willing to share their true stories. I took the plunge and shared mine yesterday. Share yours. The world needs to witness it.

The Bravest and Most Beautiful Affair. [Heard rave reviews about the author's presentation on the importance of poetery at Story Conference today.]

Speaking of Story Conference, I only heard about it recently, but I'm heartbroken that I can't be there. On the other hand, I still get to connect with this blogging guy and this blogging girl for an early coffee date tomorrow morning. It'll be great to finally meet them in person!

And finally, a friend and I are starting a writer's group in the Elgin/Chicago Suburbs. Are you interested? Join here.

Have a good weekend, friends.

[Image Source: flickr.com via Bethany on Pinterest]


Confessions of a Twenty Something : I'm in Therapy.

I was 21 and had just graduated college. I was two months away from marrying my best friend, but I didn't have a job and neither did my then-fiance. And I was completely insecure in the choices I was making. Should we still get married if we have no money? How can I earn money as a writer? Is that even possible? When should I go to grad school? I love my fiance, but am I capable of being a good spouse to him? Am I ready to be an adult?

How do I cope with all of this anxiety?

And I was beginning to notice things about myself. That if I was at my apartment alone without my roommate around, I was doing one of two things: crying uncontrollably, or laying on the couch like an overcooked vegetable watching reality television. My "anger management" techniques, though inherited honestly from my German-American family, were highly ineffective, unhealthy, and were not conducive to being someone's spouse.

I wasn't writing.

I wasn't looking for a better job.

I was letting the negative things in my life strangle the positive things. I had a college degree I'd worked hard for, but I had no job. My confidence in my writing and my professionalism were rock bottom. I had a great relationship with my fiance, but I was terrified that I would ruin it with my obstinacy and insecurity. I had faith in a God that has consistently been faithful to me, but I felt unfaithful to Him by living in fear of the future.

And I knew my friends couldn't fix me. 

So I went to see a therapist I knew. And we began to unravel a few things.

First: are you sure you want to get married? 

The answer was unequivocally and irrevocably YES. Yes, I did want to marry my best friend. Even if we lived with his parents for a few months while we got on our feet, even if it meant that we wouldn't be able to go on a honeymoon or buy better vehicles or go to grad school right away, I knew with every part of me that we would be honoring God and one another if we chose to work through those things together in marriage.

Second: since I'm getting married, what do I need to do to be an emotionally stable spouse? 

All of us were raised with habits, good and bad. And then, at some point, we realize the unhealthy ones are getting in the way of constructing positive ones. We have to deconstruct the unhealthy habits - admit them, analyze that pattern of behavior, let go of it, and then try - painfully at first - to speak, act, reach out, apologize, forgive and encourage in new ways.

Third: how do I learn to cope with my mother's unstable health? 

There are days when I'm overwhelmed. There are days when I feel numb to it. And because I am the oldest child and the only girl from my family of five, I will always feel responsible for the well-being of everyone else. I will, instinctively, suppress my emotions in an effort to accommodate those around me. I will, instinctively, believe that if I just "keep it together" I will find a way to fix the situation. I'm learning to confess my grief, my doubt, my fear. I'm learning to let my faith sustain me. I'm learning to be honest with myself and with others about how I feel in a given moment.

And I had to my ask myself this question:

Is going to therapy a sign that I'm broken, or that I'm healing? 

We reap what we sow. We have to do the hard work of uprooting the negative in order to make room for positive things to grow. There's a lot of sweat and tears and patience and prayer involved. A lot of talking and crying and brutal honesty. To bear the fruit of a healthy life, I had to find the help I needed to unearth a better way of living. I hope each of you find the courage to do the same.

This post was written in conjunction with the blog series Confessions of a Twenty Something, hosted by Ally Spots.


Words and Strings

Because I couldn't help but fall in love with this passage, I thought I'd share it with you:

"So many words get lost. They leave the mouth and lose their courage, wandering aimlessly until they are swept into the gutter like dead leaves. On rainy days, you can hear their chorus rushing past:


There was a time when it wasn’t uncommon to use a piece of string to guide words that otherwise might falter on the way to their destinations. Shy people carried a little bunch of string in their pockets, but people considered loudmouths had no less need for it, since those used to being overheard by everyone were often at a loss for how to make themselves heard by someone. The physical distance between two people using a string was often small; sometimes the smaller the distance, the greater the need for the string. 

The practice of attaching cups to the ends of string came much later. Some say it is related to the irrepressible urge to press shells to our ears, to hear the still-surviving echo of the world’s first expression. Others say it was started by a man who held the end of a string that was unraveled across the ocean by a girl who left for America. 

When the world grew bigger, and there wasn’t enough string to keep the things people wanted to say from disappearing into the vastness, the telephone was invented. 

Sometimes no length of string is long enough to say the thing that needs to be said. In such cases all the string can do, in whatever its form, is conduct a person’s silence."

- Nicole Krauss, A History of Love



book·ish : Literary Great Britain

I'm no good with geography, but as a wanderlust and a book nerd, I find this literary map of Great Britain positively delightful.


1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.*

*All items posted in the book·ish section are found by myself and posted of my own accord unless otherwise stated. If you would like to be a sponsor or host a giveaway, please contact me at shewritesandrights[at]gmail[dot]com.

Follow me and my bookish board on Pinterest


Guest Post | Pen to Paper.

Today's guest post is brought to you by Helena of byebyebitters.wordpress.com. An avid reader, snarky writer and devoted note taker, she has a few things to say about putting pen to paper.

Pen to Paper

Recently, the powers that be at my workplace offered to provide each of us with another axillary monitor - bringing the desktop total to three. I said no. As this response was not in keeping with the majority of my coworkers, I’ve had to frequently explain my refusal. My reasoning? The proffered monitor would take up space currently devoted to my Bic pen and legal-size notepad. This space is sacred, mandatory.

I’m a pen-to-paper girl.

Throughout the workday I jot notes to myself, make lists, and scribble bits of information onto the pad of paper that is always by my side. Without this notebook - and this space to take notes - I would be lost.

I’ve always been an avid note-taker. I have a well-worn callous on my right ring finger where the pen rests as I whip across the page. I filled notebooks with schoolwork and journals with teenage angst. I have a basket of stationery and have long been an active pen-pal with anyone willing to receive my letters.

Handwriting was initially a struggle. I held my pen “improperly” and struggled to form cursive letters with the flow and ease of the other students. Mrs. Harrington, my third grade teacher, would hang examples of proper penmanship on the bulletin board for everyone to admire. I longed to have my own work featured, but continued to fall short.

Formal cursive was later abandoned for my own special longhand hybrid. By the time I entered high school, my script had become a point of personal pride. I experimented with letter-formation: dotting my i’s with bubbles and curving the tails of my y’s elaborately. I copied my mother’s capital H’s and my friend’s lowercase e’s until I developed my own, wide font. My notes were now as neat as they were complete. The employment of several different ink and highlighter colors to further accent my notebooks would come later.

For me, there are certain situation that require pen-to-paper to be properly processed. I learn by writing things down. My brain makes connections as ink spreads my new knowledge along the college-ruled lines. I wonder how I would have done had I started at University any later than I had - in a time when laptops would become ubiquitous and spiral-bound notebooks scarce. Would typed notes have the same resonance? Follow the same well-worn kinesthetic channels to my long-term memory? Be as easily recalled? My learning style requires something more tactile than tapping on a keyboard.
With school and most of my frantic, avid note-taking now behind me, I still reach to a pen to document ideas. I storyboard, I doodle, I make maps. I circle, I highlight, I pin to bulletin boards. While, invariably and understandably, these ideas are typed before they are shared with others, they begin life on a humble piece of paper.


Helena Butters lives in Chicago with her fiancé and two cats. She blogs about life, love, and the pursuit of better body image at Bye Bye Bitters. You can catch more of her wit and snark on Twitter at @HelenaMarie.

See a few of my favorite posts from Helena here, here and here.


On Remembering in the Twenty-First Century.

As I turned to washed my hands in the third floor bathroom of my 1920's Georgian mansion-turned-office building, I saw the most beautiful shadow I've ever noticed. Maybe an odd place to contemplate beauty and life, but nonetheless, I was fascinated as I watched the evening sun play with the leaves and the arch of the window. 

I had the sudden, second-nature instinct to video it or snap a photo, to find a way to keep it forever. The quick darting movement of the branches and the light as they swung back and forth against each other reminded me of those moving photos people keep making now, those series of two or three photos that make it look like a stop-action illustration.

In an instant, I saw it: the reaction to a reaction to a reaction. Art that imitates life that imitates art that imitates life.

Sometimes I love technology and everything that we can do with it to capture the world we live in. Without photos, some memories, both the important and the mundane, would be lost forever. Without video, we might forget things like what a loved one's voice sounds like, or the way your grandmother's dining room looked with everyone gathered around it as you blew out your candles out on your third birthday. Those moments would die with us. They would flicker and disappear like a beautiful but rather nondescript early September day.

As a writer I'm repeatedly struck with the urge to write things down, to transcribe every moment, every thought, every conversation. I don't want to lose it, this moment that feels so pivotal and poignant. I'm afraid that I'll forget, and that all these things that seem so necessary will slip through my fingers and that I will reach the end, not knowing who I am or how I got here.

But if I have to record it for it to last, was it ever that important?

And what will happen to our perception of lives lived? 

I fear that if I'm only blogging and tweeting and photographing and documenting the happy things, the funny things, that I'll look back on life with a false sense of reality, believing that things were less painful than they really were. Or that I will be wracked with an unidentifiable emptiness and disconnect to periods of my life that were filled with hardship, because only half of it is visible.

In our flurry to document and text and tweet and Facebook and Instagram it all, maybe instead of creating a new facet of permanence to our lives, we are instead losing our ability to remember and forget naturally, to live independent of the collective conscious, to appreciate a fleeting moment for the bittersweet thing that it is.

I took the photo anyway.


book·ish: Book Challenge.

I found Beth's blog, She Thinks Too Much, over at 101 Books the other day. Both of these blogs are thoroughly bookish, which I love, of course. Beth has been doing a book challenge on her blog in the last month, answering questions about the books she's read. Such an interesting challenge for those of us who are addicted to the written word.

So give me a title for one of the following in our own mini book challenge:

1. A book you wish you could live in.
    [My answer: Harry Potter! I want to live at Hogwarts.]

2. A book you're most embarrassed to say you like.
    [My answer: Twilight, the first book in the series. Everything after that, and the movies, and the general hysteria surrounding the series freak me out, though. I'm at least happy to say that I took the time to read them before judging them.]

3. A book whose main character is most like you.
    [My answer: Gemma Doyle, A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray. Haven't read it? It's one of my favorites.] 

4. A book whose main character you want to marry.
    [My answer: Henry DeTamble, The Time Traveler's Wife. I don't care if he disappears on me, he's my kind of guy.]

5. A book that you can quote or recite.
    [My answer: The Time Traveler's Wife. What can I say? I read that book every fall and never tire of it.]

Or answer them all! Either way it's fascinating to see the unique perspective and taste of every reader.
And if I haven't read them, I'll add your answers to my to-read list!



1. (of a person or way of life) Devoted to reading and studying rather than worldly interests.
2. (of language or writing) Literary in style or allusion.
3. (of art and all manner of lovely things) devoted to the written word as a form of art and as a way of seeing the world.
4. (of SheWritesandRights.blogspot.com) anything of the aforementioned characteristics as they are found on the interwebs and reposted by Bethany, because bookish and writerly things always give reason for amusement.


Poem: The Master Speed

There are some poems I read that provoke strong imagery. The lines and their imagery come to me like a recurring dream whenever I am caught in a situation that reminds me of it. A year ago, Matt and I had just celebrated our first anniversary and were finally settled into our new apartment. It felt like things were finally beginning to go right for us with steady jobs, a place of our own, a routine.
But other things were also becoming apparent: that my mother was entering a new phase of struggling with cancer harder than she had yet experienced, that some of our friends and loved ones were not experiencing the came contentedness and peace in their families, marriages, jobs and homes, that the economy was still not on the upswing. Just when we felt settled and ready for anything, we sensed a current sweeping us away from that steady place. In the midst of that, I read this poem. The words and the imagery were an encouragement to me, an anchor that reminded me of the sacred commitment of marriage and friendship, the power of love to create peace and determination like nothing else can.

The Master Speed 
Robert Frost

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still-
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

Do you have a poem, song, book, etc, that does this for you? 

[Image here.]