Archive for the ‘following through’ Category

somewhere over Des Moines

ON the trip home from Nebraska,
the same storms that force a rerouting
also yield views I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

That’s how it is with reroutings.

* * *

SUNDAY I was late coming home.
Monday first thing workmen came
to tear out the old screen room
and make way for something new.

No time to process
a notepad full of jottings,
a head full of stories.

There are people in and out.
There’s sawing and hammering.
The dog keeps an eye on everything,
apprising me of all arrivals at high pitch.

But today a carpenter
told about buying his first car,
how it was the ’70s and he had long hair
and the salesman didn’t think he could afford it.
He went to the bank and withdrew the full amount from his savings,
asking for it in pennies.
The bank couldn’t oblige,
so he settled for taking it all in $1 bills.
which he took back to the dealer –
not in neat packets,
but loose in a brown paper grocery bag –
and dumped on the salesperson’s desk.

I love a good story better than just about anything
and am glad for the all the sawdust and hammering
and trucks in and out the driveway
that have brought me one.

* * *

THIS is the prayer that came to me at retreat’s end,
that I would see clearly the rerouting,
that I would step in that direction,
that I’d follow through on it, all the way,
not take a stab then leave it half-done.
* * *

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The Finished Chair

This first one was for practice. :-)


See “Fixing Something…Good Therapy.”

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paper chain

Usually I write a post, then tweet a link to it. This time I tweeted a thought and now will expand on it.

The tweet: Stop thinking “This should be a book.” Start writing on the topic and see what it turns out to be. #creativity #writing

* * *

DRIVING HOME FROM THANKSGIVING, I have a thought, and the longer I think about it, the more I think I may have something worth writing about.

“I should write a book about that,” I say.
Or maybe he says it and I nod. No matter.

Yeah, actually this idea is a refinement of another idea I thought I might write a book about.
But there’s no book.
There’s no book on the original idea nor several (dozen) before it on other topics.
Add it to the list, not the list of discarded ideas, but the list of ideas never acted upon.

This “I oughta write a book” thing is the wrong way to go about it, I think. Maybe it’s best, when an idea seems promising, to just start writing and see what form it wants to take. Maybe it’s better to write down the thought, then write down the thought that comes after it, and so forth and so on, until you’re done writing about it. Then see what it is you have.

Maybe you have a book’s worth of stuff to say.
Maybe it’s an article’s worth or a blog post.
Maybe you have thoughts that ought to go in a letter to someone – just one someone. Or an email.
And maybe, just maybe, like with this, the whole shebang can be contained within the confines of a tweet and there’s no need to expand. Still, some of us can’t resist. :-)

Eliminate preconceived notions about what form a thing should take and just start writing. It will become clear as you go.

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the files

The greater story is unfolding before their eyes….and they are clinging to their smaller stories.” – Tina Howard

THE FILE CABINET I want is not in stock. It’s not available online either. But I’ve already given away my old one and the files from it lie everywhere.

I glance at the line-up on the bench, the many linear inches, and see that huge chunks are unfinished manuscripts and bits and pieces of once-important ideas I never started on, clippings that once struck me, the “someday I’ll write about” things.

Are they important to me now? Do I even know what’s there?

* * *

AN ARCHAEOLOGY intern, digging through these remains, might venture guesses about me and what presses in now. They’d get it wrong. No hint exists. Not here. There’s no room for now here.

Maybe a new file cabinet isn’t the answer.

I can’t write the stuff I once did and I need to let it go,” I say and it seems like such an epiphany. But didn’t I say the exact same words to a friend in Texas last September?

She heard me. I was the one not listening.

* * *

EPIPHANIES happen in an instant, but the follow-through can be long in coming.

“The greater story is unfolding before their eyes….and they are clinging to their smaller stories.” I read. Yes indeed. My feet are all tangled up in the old stuff and I have no room for what’s before me now.

Scratch file cabinet from the list. Add shredder.
Time to make room for now.

* * *

See all the Letting Go posts here.

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A THOUSAND WORDS A DAY, I see it’s been.
Not on purpose, not a goal,
but just because my pockets were full.

This is how the economics of writing works.
You have to spend it all.
Every day.

1,000 words a day, give or take a few,
and the proof,
a 3-ring binder,
new in summer,
once holding a solitary sheet,
now almost full.

What’s given in a day
must be spent,
all of it.

Next day, if needed, more comes.

A FEARFUL WRITER, risk-averse,
always saving for the rainy day,
finds this a difficult principle to act upon,

to pull the pockets inside-out
and shake free
every crumb,
every bit of lint,
every last comma.

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The Gathering

Maybe not all running
involves getting on a ship and sailing for Tarshish.

STUDYING JONAH on Wednesday mornings,
I wonder what my Nineveh is, what I’ve been called to and am running from.

It can’t be something this simple, can it?

Twice it’s happened, sitting in church.
I learn of someone
having tests,
receiving a diagnosis,
starting treatment
all familiar trigger words, familiar territory –
and it strikes me
I need to meet this person.
I need to gather together the lot of them.
My border collie tendencies, that.

But months pass
and I do not act.
Stuck in idea stage, no follow-through.

* * *

Finally, Nineveh-pondering, I move forward.
Make calls.
Issue invitations.

“I don’t know,
but there might be some benefit
in our gathering together,”
I say.

And nobody thinks it’s a stupid idea!
What made me think they would?

* * *

With less orchestration than it takes to roll out of bed
it happens.

The meal is easy
The conversation is easy.
And when at the end they say,
“We must do this again,”
the YES of it is easy.

I see Wally sitting on the screen porch,
which adds to my own savoring.

Can it be this simple, a Nineveh?
but just as easily not done
by failure to follow through?

Still savoring, but with way too much leftover dessert in the freezer. :-)

image: “Sail Away” by Martha Kuper Brinson. See this and other prints of original watercolors by Martha Kuper Brinson at her Etsy shop

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I WRESTLE THE CHAIR into my car and take it to the repair shop, thinking, on the way there, of the chairs turned upside down in my father’s workshop all those years ago.

So many years.
So many chairs.
So many kids in that house being told
“Feet on the floor, not on chair rungs.”

It did no good.

There was always a chair being hauled to the basement for fixing.
Always one out of circulation.
Always one being brought back up,
set in place,
and stern warnings newly issued,
near-threats to life and limb.

But life and limb survived
and here I am, traveling through town with a chair in my back seat.

I was forever down there in the basement,
following him around,
just to see what was going on,
just for conversation,
just to feel safe.

And it seems like he was forever standing over things turned upside down, trying to set them right.

He was the glue.

* * *

I AM PULLED OUT of my workshop memory by the need to find my way.
“If you’ve gone as far as the Baptist Church, you’ve gone too far,”
the man on the phone said.
(a clever title for something, that)

And there it is. I turn onto the stone driveway, park and wrestle the chair back out of the car. A man comes rushing out to help me. People are always rushing to help me now that I look like somebody’s grandmother. And I’m just starting to get the hang of letting them. :-)

Into the dimly-lit workroom we go.
Furniture stacked on furniture.
The secret recesses of a furniture hospital.

I love to troll through these places
where real work is done.

“Now let’s see what we have here,”
he says,
and the first thing he does
is turn my chair
upside down.

I haven’t stopped smiling.

You might also like At the Shoe Repair.

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