Her Words

Pulled to Safety By Ashley Judd

Anyone who knows me well is aware of my greatest fear—driving off of a bridge and plummeting into the water. A few years ago, my son Walter even bought me a “Hammer of Life.” This tiny but effective tool will enable me to either smash my window for escape if the dreaded should ever occur…or beat myself senseless and die in…

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A Watched Mailbox Never Boils

We all grew up with them. We all cocked our heads to one side, puzzled at their meanings while grayer heads nodded with knowing understanding. Older, wiser relatives tossing out “pearls of wisdom” into our tiny swine ears: “A bird in the hand is with two in the bush.” “Measure twice, cut once.” “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.” One…

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Peace With Missing Pieces

Two Decembers ago, in an attempt to conserve our body fat until the winter thaw, our family embarked on a low-calorie burn activity. We joined forces around a card table (and 1,000 fragments of frustration) to build a Wysoki Wonderland. Even though a jigsaw puzzle isn’t technically a “board game,” it has been our Woods family experience that as a puzzle begins to fill…

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What happens when you edit your life?

Writing is a gracious profession. This is because no one is forced to blog or compose poetry or “freestyle” a novel in front of a live audience. Writers write in private. Then we gather up all our laborious scribblings, cull the really embarrassing stuff, cobble the leftovers into a shaky first draft, and sheepishly show that only to a couple of trusted writing cohorts. Nobody who understands…

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How writing a novel is like going to divinity school

When I finally decided (after years of procrastination) to sit down and tackle one of the top items on my bucket list—writing a novel—I had no idea that immersing myself in fiction would give me a better view of truth. Here are four surprising things I learned: I learned about creation. Christian theology states that God created all things, but that…

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Why you need to become a “best-selling novelist”

For years I kept saying, “One day I want to write a novel.” Okay, that’s not entirely true. What I actually said—though rarely out loud—is, “One day I want to write a best-selling novel.” It was only last summer, after a couple decades of such daydreaming that I finally had this epiphany: An unwritten novel has ZERO chance of being published, much less becoming a best-seller. (Feel…

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Be a human who cares about humans

It doesn’t take too long in this news-heavy, social media-saturated, self-promoting world, to feel worthless. How can I compete with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a doctor performing life-saving procedures, Academy Award-winning actors, technological geniuses, professional athletes, or The Real Housewives of Anywhere? If we laid out our resumes side by side, and evaluated them on the sliding scale of success, I’m…

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Decent people saying indecent words

@&*$%! Suddenly, I am obsessed with cursing. In large part this is because I recently completed a novel that has some “language” in it. A couple of my characters—despite my stern instructions that “this is not that kind of book!”—insisted on using some colorful expletives on several different occasions. My agent warned me that this might very well be the “kiss…

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Holy Ducks! I’m Crying!

My insightful husband has recently written posts on grief and tears and the need to pay close attention to both. But like wild animals, those two things can be scary and unpredictable. As I confessed here recently (Black Heart Down), I had reached a point of emotional numbness, leaving me impervious to significant, tear-worthy moments. Ten years ago it took…

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Debbie Downer on Facebook

Remember Debbie Downer? The Saturday Night Live sourpuss a few years back who had the amazing ability to suck the life out of a room with her gloomy pronouncements? I’m friends with “Debbie” on Facebook! Not the make-believe character and not the comedienne Ratchel Dratch who played her, but an actual acquaintance who posts at least a dozen depressing stories every day.…

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