#Writers Need Traditions #StPatricksDay #ShepardsPie

Hey everyone,

In celebration of yesterday, go get yourself some Shepard’s Pie. It’s not technically a pie to all you sweet-toothed folks out there, but there are few foods more efficient than this ole’ dish. It’s meat, starch, and vegetables all rolled into one dish. Add a side of fruit, and you’ve scaled the whole food pyramid.

As an added bonus, the recipe I linked has cauliflower instead of potatoes for the topper. Granted, I love potatoes, as most Irish do, but it’d be fun to experiment with.

So. Traditions. Writers need ’em, for three reasons.

1) They’re good stress relief.

Writing takes work. Serious, good writing is hard–it’s a job. Like any other position, you have to invest in it to make money, and if you don’t, then you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice. This is going to lead to some days where you need a stiff drink and a lobotomy to get your head on straight again. Or maybe you’ll be real chill about it and do some downward-facing dog and chant Om instead. I’ve been known to take both routes.

Spend time with your family. That’s what tradition is really about. Family, whether by blood or choice. Maybe you’re not the type to call someone Bro, but you can still regard someone as a brother. Go decorate for a holiday, spend a day at the track, attend an annual barbecue, or, if you’ve got nothing else, make a plan to get together once a month and lounge around someone’s house.

2) They keep you grounded.

You know what sucks more than freaking out from stress? Getting so full of hot air that you can’t see the ground–until you’re hurtling straight down. Being immersed in other peoples’ lives reminds us that our own pitfalls and successes aren’t exclusive, nor does our light eclipse someone else’s.

And, by the way, if you’re the type to sit there and snort, “I’m a novelist. How’s the bank, Dave?” then just stop. Anyone can write a novel. If you write well, your work will speak for itself, and you won’t have to tell people what you do for a living. (Hopefully)

3) They remind you what it really means to be human.

We all like stories about heroes and villains, I assume. The fireman who saves a baby from an inferno, or the journalist that exposes a massive corruption scandal in her town–those stories never get old.

At the end of the day, those people go home, maybe to family, kick it with some Netflix or a good book, shuck off their work clothes like a corn husk, and crawl into bed, wondering what the next day will bring.

Compelling stories aren’t about the bravest soldier or the most brilliant detective, they’re about the soldier who keeps a journal in his pocket and writes poetry during down time, or the detective who volunteers to promote children’s literacy. They’re about the amazing, powerful figures who, when the camera stops rolling, are just like us. They share our hopes and joys, our pains and fears, and even our traditions.

My favorite literary figures are the ones about whom I can say, “Wow, I can picture myself walking into this person on the street,” or “I’d totally grab a beer with that guy.” Who are yours?

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