Harvesting Pearls

December 28, 2022
“All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster's autobiography.”                          —  Federico Fellini

Well, here we are at the end of another year. The jury is still out on 2022 quality-wise, but my verdict: better than 2021, MUCH better than 2020, not as good as 2019 (though my memory of anything pre-COVID is rather vague). This is the moment when I always wish that I was Dave Barry (he of the famous and hilarious Year in Review for The Miami Herald, syndicated everywhere). Alas, I am a mere Elise Seyfried, and so I once again scrounge for material for this final December post. Sorry, gang!

I came upon the Fellini quote recently, and found it very reassuring. For you see, I have an advanced case of Fiction Writer Envy. How can these gifted folks create entire fanciful worlds on paper (from Narnia to Hogwarts)? It is (truly) all I can do to mine my every day, actual experiences for a few giggles and/or insights. But my buddy Federico reminds me that even fiction masters are really using their own lives as a filter for their writing. Me too!

And I also love the image of the pearl, which is a by-product of the oyster’s irritation! I am irritated 24/7 these days, and I had thought this uncomfortable emotion was for naught. But no! I am royally annoyed by everything from lines at the Shop N Bag checkout (even at 7:30 AM), to the mind-numbing repetitive- ness of morning cable TV show hosts (“Wow, Joe! Let’s play that clip from last night’s rally for the 10th time! Then we’ll bring on our crew of pundits who will also say: 'Wow, Joe!' ") Now I understand that what irks me, leads to writing treasure!

The corollary is the reassuring idea that travel mishaps/failures/ outright disasters are actually the GOOD STORIES. Who wants to read about the perfect, but ho-hum experiences, when the problematic ones are so much more entertaining? Mind you, I don’t want to LIVE these catastrophes, and I am hopeful that my skills as a scribe will someday render a flawless evening in Vienna as a riveting read. But deep down I know that the harrowing tale of being abandoned at JFK by our shuttle driver, beats the story of our delectable Austrian schnitzel.

During the past several late Decembers, I have taken inventory of my writing submissions/acceptances/rejections. This year, I am tickled to discover that I had 42 accepted pieces out of 71 submissions (62%!) And the majority of these essays/articles had something to do with my real life. The other necessary part of this exercise, of course, is Goals For 2023, and I have some doozies, including The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Paris Review. Dream big, I say!

Will next year’s literary pearls be harvested from grand adventures, or irritating treks to the grocery store?

Probably a combination. But I look forward to living my 67th year (!) and thank you all for joining me on the journey.






    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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