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Jul 10, 2014

Cup Holder Wisdom from Oprah


I love writing.

There, I’ve said it. Growing up, my mother labeled us. “Jane, you’re the artist.” (Thank God I got that one!) “Meredith, you’re the writer. Barbara, you’re the pretty one. Andy, you’re the funny one.”

Because my older sister was awarded claim to all things literary–she’s become a mega-successful literary agent–I dove into art, and happily so, for 30+ years.

Decades pass. Life happens. Careers change form and substance. These days I find my creativity in writing. But what to do about the mantel my mother bestowed on an elder over 50 years ago?

After taking Ann Randolph’s superb writing workshop at Kripalu in late June, I’ve started an official writing practice. I ordered 4 books on memoir writing from amazon, hired a writing coach and established a writers group in the city. I’m on it!

But, the voices in my head say, this is not a money-making proposition. Your public wants information about how to grow their businesses. YOU ARE NOT SERVING YOUR AUDIENCE.

And then a whisper comes trailing along, “Your message is about following your passion. That’s what they want to hear.”

Who to listen to?

I asked for a sign, and I got one this morning. On my cup of decaf from Starbucks. The cup-holder spoke to me.

Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose. Oprah Winfrey

Dammit. This is what I teach, and yet when it comes to this shoemaker, I forget.

So, during the month of July, you will be reading, if you so choose, pieces I’m writing from prompts given to me by my new coach.

Because this is uncharted territory for me–sharing my personal essays–I have a request. I would appreciate your kindness in offering ONLY positive comments. Likes, thumbs up, a word or two of support. No grammatical corrections or probing inquiries required. Enjoy, and only let me know if you are.


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  1. Joan Cavanaugh

    Your words and your voice come to life with the stories you tell, Jane. Wonderful.

    • janepollak

      @Joan – Just the feedback I was hoping for. Thank you!

  2. Nancy M

    I look forwarding to reading more! Good for you! Nancy Moon

    • janepollak

      @Nancy – Thank you! That’s all the encouragement I need. It’s kind of like you with your camera. You’re SO GOOD, but not ‘officially’ a photographer. To heck with that!

  3. Rochelle

    Beautiful and authentic! Your words met me with this thought – TRUTH – for you, for me and I am guessing many more…

    • janepollak

      Thank you!

  4. Paula Sacco

    I couldn’t be happier to read more of what you write! You are still an artist you are just using words instead of paint. Love, Paula

  5. janepollak

    Great to read your comment! Thanks for checking in, Paula.

  6. Donna Cardillo

    Hi Jane – I, too, am working on a memoir – interesting experience! I found the book The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith very helpful. Good luck!

  7. janepollak

    I’m currently reading that book! Was visiting a friend in Troy, NY, where the author is from, and it was prominently displayed in a bookstore there and recommended by the staff person at the desk. I’d love to read any of your entries you’d care to share.

  8. Stirling Design Associates, LLC

    Good for you Jane. When I was a student I hated writing with a passion. When given that essay assignment I wanted to throw up. Then in the last semester of my junior year in college I was forced to take a writing course. (see how I put it off…I didn’t even ‘want’ to learn) The professor was the best and taught me the secret was not to try to write, but to just write. As I am saying this I realize he gave me the secret of life. Don’t ‘try’ just do. Do it without effort. But do it over and over until is part of who you are.

    I attended an 11 day silent meditation camp a couple of years ago. I wanted desperately for someone to teach me the ‘how.’ For the first three days we sat silently for 8-10 hours a day without instruction. On the fourth day they were going to tell us how to do it. When they told us I remember I was furious! “That’s it!? You just observe?!” I wanted a secret handshake, a special prayer, how many ohms or something. Even by the 11th day I was still not accepting and gave myself a C- grade in meditation. But I did continue daily and it wasn’t long that I realized there is no ‘how’ to be with yourself. You can’t judge your meditation.

    And that is the best reason for me not to judge the writings you share with us. I will absorb them like the word-meditations they are and all meditations are elevating.

    • janepollak

      I love this accounting. I would have been the same way. Thanks for telling this story here. It underscores what I’m trying to say so beautifully.


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