Small Beans/My CLL Journal

“Lately I have felt overwhelmed by the beans in my life,”
– L.L. Barkat.

after his leukemia diagnosis in 2008
that I started it,
my CLL journal –

not about him
but about me
and what was going on with me
because of the diagnosis

a place to write stuff
that had nowhere else to go.

Such small beans,
what’s going on with me,
the bystander.

Small beans
compared to the one diagnosed,
the one whose calendar
is filling with appointments,
start of treatment.

Small beans,
but when I had something
too big to carry around
I set it there
in that journal.

This was all born out my belief that there is value in capturing what is happening now, the stuff that sticks, with no idea of why or possible future use, but to just do it. Again, writing is an act of faith.

EMBARRASSED to have it,
the journal,
I kept it tucked away –
pulling it out
to jot something quickly
then quickly putting it away again.

There was nothing in it
that couldn’t be shared,
but the very act
of writing in it,
of thinking
that was happening in my head,
in my life,
deserved a witness
seemed wrong.

A year later
my oldest & dearest friend says,
“I hope you are keeping a journal.”
It’s the first time I admit it outright.
Only then
and only a word,

I tell myself,
confusing writing with publishing
or the pursuit of it,

because by then
I have stopped
so much of what I used to do –
the querying,
the outlining,
the drafting,
the submitting of manuscripts.

And after a year-and-a-half
I begin to believe
the whisper in my head:
I may never write again,

like a swimmer
claiming he’ll never swim again,
all the while
maintaining a constant stroke,
going back and forth
in the deep end of the pool.

“This is the secret of the prolific writer.
To agree to use small beans and the ingredients at hand.” – L.L. Barkat

Q: What small beans are you holding onto?

CLLChronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Source: *Rumors of Water by L.L. Barket, T.S. Poetry Press, New York, 2011. I sat last month holding a sleeping newborn and pondering my small beans after reading Chapter 6, “Japanese Beans: Write with What you Have.”

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in book recommendations, cancer, CLL, journal, Rumors of Water, transitions, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Small Beans/My CLL Journal

  1. This is one of the most beautiful things you’ve written, Marilyn. I love how you wove in L.L.’s words. Yes, writing is an act of faith. And the words in your journal may feel like a hill of small beans but, baby, they are your hill and your beans. Stand tall and proud.


  2. L.L. Barkat says:

    “I may never write again,

    like a swimmer
    claiming he’ll never swim again,
    all the while
    maintaining a constant stroke”

    Marilyn, your words just keep getting more and more poignant. I’m going to have to start bringing a tissue box when I come here 🙂


  3. bethhavey says:

    You will keep writing, Marilyn and so will I. I will send you an email soon, Beth


  4. Belinda says:

    Nothing is ever wasted….


  5. Pingback: The Small Beans of Your Life and Mine |

  6. Katie says:

    Please, don’t get out of the “pool”!

    Liked by 1 person

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