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Gleanings: Experimenting in the Writer Life

“Experiment. Try something new. Maybe you won’t like it. Maybe you’ll make a mistake. But maybe you will like it, and maybe you’ll discover something you love.” ~ Melody Beattie, Language of Letting Go.

Monday morning, and I looked at all I had to do. I tried to jettison some things that were not truly ‘have-tos’. Couldn’t find any. In fact, I thought of a few more things that had been put off too long. I ended up taking one of those things and jumping in to do it. Nothing at all to do with writing–it was making up a nutritious mash for my spring chicks. But I enjoyed doing it, and learned that sometimes I have to vary my schedule. Doing chores, especially ones that take me outside, renews my energy.

Then it was up to the sanctuary of my office. That habit, one I found by experimenting and putting writing time and solitude time first, has been established. It keeps me going, even though today’s schedule is not about actual writing. Today my focus is on publishing and making order here and there. The writer craft has evolved, and I’m evolving with it. I’m experimenting, and I have to say that I’m enjoying a great deal of managing my own properties. I really do!

I’ve read from several books on writer craft, as is my habit on Monday. What has popped up to me is the admonition to be open to new ideas, to jettison preconceptions. Funny, but each of the writers then tells me how to do it, and from his own ideas of what he is sure is the right way.

You know what–today, this week, I am going to jettison a lot of my preconceived ideas, as well as what so-called experts put forth, and I’m going to experiment with the wisdom that comes from inside myself.

I think in doing this I will be experimenting with what makes me happy.

God bless y’all,

Gleanings: Time, Dirt, and Money, and Writing

Time, Dirt, and Money was the working title of the book writer Olive Ann Burns was working on when she died. The title came from a sentiment her mother often put forth that life came down to a struggle with three things: time, dirt, and money.  I have over the years come to see the clear truth of that statement.

This morning I was up at my usual 5:30 am, going through all my routine of tea, reading, prayer, and then, 6:30 arrives along with my 8 year old grandson, and it is as if I get shot out of a cannon. I fly around to get myself dressed, cook grandson a hot meal, clear the table, and get us out the door and off to school. “Put that Kindle down…don’t let the dog out…hurry, hurry…keep your feet off the seat.” I grip the steering wheel and sort of lean forward, because we are, as usual, running late.

We come flying up to the school. There’s no Sheriff’s deputy directing traffic, and there is no traffic at all. We must be really late! “Hurry, hurry, give me a kiss and off you go.”

He pops out, and I watch him go to the door, and in it, as I always do, because somehow I think something quite vague that amounts to the fear that someone lurking in the bushes could grab him. But in he goes, and I start to drive away, when– there’s a woman at the glass waving frantically. Good thing I watched him go in. See, I tell the one who makes fun of my fears.

“There’s no school today!” the woman calls to me.

So here I am with a small boy to mind today, and errands that must be run, and bills that have to be paid, and all of it today.

Olive Ann Burns’ life wisdom pops to mind. In just the space of an hour, I have dealt with time, dirt, and money. What I do with each, how I handle them, whether I face them or run away, it’s all up to me. (I’m leaning toward running away at this minute, with grandson having a hissy fit about ‘nothing to do’.) I think it’s helpful to know I don’t have to do any of it perfectly. In fact, accept that I won’t, and get on with it. I find it great progress to see that I carved out an hour to write.

Time, Dirt, and Money, was published as Leaving Cold Sassy, an unfinished sequel to Cold Sassy Tree after Burns’ death. Thinking of it this morning, I pulled the book off the shelf and of course had to start reading. As I read of Olive Ann Burns’ courage in facing her illness and life, I find myself grateful for the time, dirt, and money countless writers have slogged through and produced wonderful works that benefit my own slogging.

God bless your valiant slogging today.



Gleanings: One Small Act of Self-discipline, armament for the writer

“In order to be a good writer, you’ve got to be a bad boss. Self-discipline and stamina are the two major arms in a writer’s arsenal.” ~ Leon Uris

I went looking for self-discipline quotes to boost me. I am boosted just to see I want to read about self-discipline. I used to avoid the mention of the word. It scared me, because I felt I couldn’t do it, that it would be too hard, that I was a failure in that area. Today I know that self-discipline is nothing more than giving things one more try. And I can rest in between tries.

Sometimes I have to rest every other minute, because I’m so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed because I can’t get my thoughts to find focus, because someone said my baby book project was ugly, because it is a gloomy day, because I’ve got the taxes hanging over my head, not only my own this year, but my mother’s, as well (is God crazy, leaving me here alone to have to do taxes?!), because there is always so much noise in this house, because my head feels like a goldfish bowl. The list of distractions is endless, but I’ve come to know the cure for any and all is a bit of loving self-discipline. I say loving, not the sort to take a club and beat yourself over the head. That is not self-discipline but self-abuse. What I’m talking about is doing what you know is good for you, and doing it in small increments that you can manage, not a great push.

Following routine is a life saver. If you are still working on getting a routine, then do it, in a small chunk.

The trick is not to give up. That’s really all self-discipline is, refusing to give up, so you do what you need to do. You don’t have to do everything. Do what feeds your soul. And one tiny few minutes count.

I got the Leon Uris quote from Affirmations for Artists, by Eric Maisel, who writes in the book:

“I know that however small the act may be–just a daily hour in the studio, just an extra hour of instrument practice–every effort I make toward greater self-discipline benefits me.”

I wanted to chuck my life today and run away. But I came to the writing. Only an hour or maybe hour and a half today, but already started, I’m feeling stronger.

Sending you all love. Pass it on.


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