Marked as Busy: To-Do, To Eat

To-Do

To Eat

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

 

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On Life and Writing. Or, the #Writing Life (or…if only)

“If only life were like a Jules Verne novel, thinks Marie-Laure, and you could page ahead when you most needed, and learn what would happen.” ~ from All the Things We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


If only we could page ahead.

I’ve been talking a lot to writers, to myself, to the Universe, about expectations and dreams and my (seemingly) bouts of failure and how I want so badly to know what’s ahead so that I might plan for and prepare. For either the best case scenario or the worst (but let’s face it, I generally consider how to prepare for the worst).

What I really want to know is should I keep working on this writing project or that one. Which one will get me where I want to be? Does a finished novel make me an official author? Does a collection of short stories mark me as an emerging writer? Does one more published essay under my belt qualify me for…what?

I waste a lot of time trying to figure out if I’m wasting my time.

The truth is, all I have is today and this page–or this screen–in front of me.

I could drop everything and finish my book or push out a few more essays or cull those short stories into the perfect multi-media collection (complete with a musical score…I have ideas, people!).

But to drop everything would mean halting my streak of Author Q&A’s, and I learn a ton from reading books inside and outside my comfort zone and talking with authors who’s style may be entirely different from my own.

I would have to cancel my online courses, starting with the one I’ve got going on right now, Principles & Prompts, where we’re talking about creativity and story, about anxiety and fear, and how to know if/when our writing is worth it. I value those discussions with other writers as 1) they remind me I’m not alone and 2) they inspire me with new insights and perspectives.

I would have to let go entirely of the group at Harwood Place. And if anything inspires me to keep on keeping on, it’s that group of writers, most of whom are 90 years old and above. They don’t worry about which project is THE project they should be working on. They just do. And they have fun. And if their stories get heard by another person, all the more joy.

So, maybe that’s it: the joy is what matters.

I may never know if the time spent on this novel-in-the making has been worth it. I may not realize for a long time that this blog is worth every hour spent crafting one post and the next. But I have fun dipping my pen into certain projects and formatting the perfect photo for the random post. It’s the little things.

Don’t think I’m forgetting about the novel or the collection of stories. But just for today, I won’t beg for a peek at the future. Instead, I’ll hold fast to the knowledge that if what I’m doing guides me through the dark and carries me into some literary light, then I am in the right place at the right time to witness more of the story, yours and mine.

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Above and Below: a flash essay

The lake is cold but the water clear. In another day we will see a flock of loons, at least fifteen of them, moving west like shadows across the surface. That’s how quiet it is here, how safe. All along the shoreline the trees boast their last show in a stretch of colors: greens that fade into rust and gold. Leaves lit up (or “Lit,” my son might say). Then gone. But not completely. When I walk the woods, elsewhere in thought, I have to remind myself again and again to look up, look out, look down, so that I see all is not lost, just temporarily scattered. And for a moment, what is above me is also below, forming a soft cushion. A shelter from whatever it is that pulled me away in the first place.

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