NEW SITE ANNOUNCEMENT: Same content, new location:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29: If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Euland

Most of my visitors are women, and I think Brenda Euland has something special to say to women, though she's taught writing to both sexes.  Even if you have no interest in "becoming a writer," this book should be in your library. Why? Because it is truly a gift to every woman.

Brenda Euland lived from October 24, 1891 - March 5, 1985.  This book was first published in 1938, reprinted as recently as 2010, and as relevant and fresh as it was 72 years earlier.

Brenda's mother was Clara Euland, a suffragette and the first President of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota. She also was the mother to six children. Brenda wasn't raised with an embarrassment of being a courageous woman, and she turned around to teach that to many other women for decades.

“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability)for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid--because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. [...]"If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; 'Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!' you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.” B. Euland, "If You Want to Write."

Is this any less true today?  Brenda revealed something in that paragraph - so many women have that pervasive feeling of discontentment - we're soaking in it!  Become your fully developed self, or recognize that you're living only a shadow of your life while trying to convince others to live the full living color versions of theirs. What credibility do we have when we're teaching what we don't DO ourselves?

I can't possibly write a summary of this book.  All I can do is say, thank you... to Brenda Euland, who 22 years after her death, daily impacts my life through this little book which doesn't just tell you how to write, but WHY to write - whether another soul ever reads what you write or not. She mentors you on how to be still and listen, to step out of busyness and feed the part of you that is unique.  We all have jobs and responsibilities.  The world doesn't stop turning when we vacate them... but the world is truly a different place when you are fully you.

“Why should we all use our creative power….? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” B. Euland

This is part of the 31 Days Project at The Nester.  For a full list of the books I've recommended this month, click HERE.


  1. She's got the right idea, for sure!

    Heckfire, I think if I just said "NO" more often, mine would at least appreciate it occasionally when I said "YES". They're so used to counting on me, they'd probably faint.

    1. Last year I couldn't help myself, much less anyone else. And even though there was a lot of pain at times (I hurt my back), it completely interrupted my previous schedule and responsibilities. So, as I recovered, I rebuilt slowly and every activity or obligation was selected, rather than just fielding everything that came at me (my usual response).

      I realized there's a choice in how much I load into my life, and it means I don't get everything I want, but I have a lot more peace of mind. Not everyone lives in that way, though. If I don't overfill my own life, others are desperate to help me fill it... not because they're selfish, but because they think it really does need to be THAT busy, or they feel lazy - and they just can't manage everything they obligate themselves to. They need help, because they aren't ready to simplify just yet... I understand that - it's how I lived for decades.

      It doesn't mean everyone understands me, or that they're happy about it. ;-) Sometimes the peaceful road is a little lonely, but only sometimes... and only a little. Hey, everything has a price, right?