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Gleanings, on the road

I will be on the road when this posts tomorrow, returning from the Novelists Inc. conference in St. Petersburg Beach. The major gleaning from the conference is that the people who are the most successful in their careers and life are those who love what they do and are the most generous. As we give, we truly do receive. The second strong gleaning is that we writers are no longer at the mercy of big publishers’ opinions and power. The sun is fully up on the day of self-publishing, and it is exciting.

Rhetoric isn’t just the province of the Latin teacher and the debater but the province of every writer who wants to craft her measure of truth, beauty, and goodness. ~ Eric Maisel, Living the Writer’s Life

That is my goal: to give to others, and to myself, all I can of the truth, beauty, and goodness that I have found in books. This means writing. No matter how you publish, or don’t publish as you choose, a writer must write. It is the first duty.

Do I want to write because that is how I want to spend my precious time? ~ Jasmine Cresswell, novelist.

This is what each writer, most especially a novelist, must answer for herself. But wanting not to spend hours in the chair does not mean you are not a writer. It simply means that you must adjust yourself and your writing. It is never all or nothing. There is a place in this world for each of us, a particular place just right for our inclinations and talents.

Classic View and Other Changes

You should have seen my face, when I logged on to write a new post. The screen was not one I recognized. I went through surprise, dismay, distrust, annoyance, high irritation, and finally great relief of the hallelujah type when I saw up in the corner the message: “Missing the old editor? No worries, just switch to classic mode.” Oh, dear hearts who understand!

I clicked on the classic view. Classic. I like that term. That suits me. Don’t you wish we could all have such a button to return to the former ‘classic’ time in our lives, before the change ripped through it? Lordy, do I wish I had a back button for many circumstances. A button to return me to the familiar, and no matter how awful, the familiar seems, well, familiar and not scary.

I happily stared at the familiar classic screen a moment. Then, curious, and jutting my chin, I hit the back button and returned to the new post screen. I felt positively daring. Sometimes a person needs to go with the change just for practice. There’s an energy generated, freed, by choosing to go with change and see what happens.

Mulling this over, it seems that all problems are a form of change in my life. My reactions are varying degrees of surprise, dismay, even grief, distrust, fear and the resulting anger.

Could I possibly see all change as opportunity of some sort?

Honestly, I’m not there yet. I can’t look at being a widow as opportunity. Not quite. Nor the circumstance where I am responsible for my invalid mother, and the numerous daily changes, like the garage door that refuses to operate, where once it was wonderful.

But what if I could? What if I chose to practice seeing all change as a form of some sort of opportunity? Hidden blessings?

It’s worth a shot. I can try that for at least fifteen minutes a day. The idea makes me smile.

Packing Sand; Pretend You’re Good At It

Today I made order in my office. For the first time since my husband’s death a year ago, I cleaned my desks. This comes after many times in the past year attempting to press myself forward. My attempts at living are very much like my process of beginning a writing project. I write a paragraph, stop and look at it, think, edit, delete, start again. It is what the author Dixie Browning used to term ‘packing sand’.

When you get your car tires stuck in the sand at the beach, you go forward, back up, go forward, back up. You keep doing this until finally you’ve packed enough length of sand that the car will keep on going up and out of the sand. The process can be helped by throwing a burlap sack under a back wheel. I think my burlap sack was cleaning my desks. I am moving firmly forward now.

I knew I crossed some sort of line toward cultivating my new life when I chose between two mouse pads. I had been using two, one on top of the other ever since I moved into this house. The top one my mother gave me over fifteen years ago. Worn, it was still cute, printed with an office angel to help me through stress. Beneath it was a mouse pad printed with Victorian red and yellow roses, a gift from a writer friend. I tossed the office angel and chose the newer, vibrant, roses. It suits me better now.

I have spent the past year attempting to come to terms with the changes in my life, to cultivate a new life, to find a life of my own in the midst of being tugged between the needs of myself, my grandchildren, and my elderly mother. It’s been the packing sand method, two steps forward, one step back. I’ve come to learn that this is living life. It’s all part of the whole.

On my desk, I came across a number of scribbled notes. Things I planned to do, ideas to help me do them. “Oh, yes…so that was what I wanted to do…and here’s those notes on…”

photoOne of the notes is a printout of a quote a friend sent me. First is the Theodore Roosevelt quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Below this is printed advice from my friend: “Pretend you’re good at it.”

I’d forgotten. Now I smile.

I’m at my desk, writing again. Pretend I’m good at it.

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