Maggie Smith’s “Keep Moving” Has Never Been More Timely
One tweet at a time, in the midst of life as she knew it falling apart: that’s how the celebrated poet Maggie Smith developed the book “Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change”. While she experienced the end of an almost two-decade marriage, she wrote reminders to herself every day and posted them on Twitter, such as: “The ending of one thing is also the beginning of another. What is the next adventure? There is room enough in this life – with its many endings, its many beginnings – for things you could not have imagined last week or last year or ten years ago. Keep moving.”
Smith became widely known for her 2016 poem “Good Bones”. Its wry commentary on wanting her children to believe in the goodness and potential of the world even in grim or uncertain times—even when she herself did not—resonated with people around the world and was declared “Official Poem of 2016” by BBC/Public Radio International. “Good Bones” has been translated into a dozen languages. So when Smith began to tweet her way through the devastation of divorce, she had an audience ready to relate.
Like poetry, Twitter is a medium that favours economy of words. So it’s not surprising that Smith flourished within the 280-character limit. It’s a manageable size for reader and writer alike to consider a single focused idea, even in times of overwhelm. It also proved an effective medium for Smith to tap into an inner wisdom beyond the emotional turmoil of the moment, and let that speak aloud to guide her life. It’s as though every day, she wrote herself a way to regroup and heal.
“Close the gap between yourself and your spirit—the person you know you can be. Let your choices reflect the person you want to become, not just the person you think you are. Keep moving.”
When Smith worked with One Signal at Simon and Schuster to bring these thoughts together into a book, they made the wise decision not to alter the original format. The book strings together the daily messages she posted on Twitter as stand-alone thoughts, interspersing them with personal essays to contextualize an arc of grief, recovery, and resilience.
Though others like Glennon Doyle (“Love Warrior”, “Untamed”) and Lucy Kalanithi (widow of Paul Kalanithi, who wrote “When Breath Becomes Air” before he died) praised “Keep Moving” for its honesty and impact, no one foresaw the landscape into which “Keep Moving” would be launched. Its compassionate messages in bite-sized form have become more prescient and relevant than ever. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the immense changes 2020 has brought to our world, this is a book worth having on your coffee table. Whether you read it for a minute or for half an hour, you can find something to inspire and refocus you to keep moving in your own arc toward a new beginning. Goes on sale October 6; pre-orders are open now.