Writing Lessons: Work with What’s In Season

WHAT’S IN SEASON at local farms is delivered and what’s in the box will dictate what’s cooking in the kitchen this week.

Best to use what’s in season,” Daddy would say. “It’s got what you need most at that time.” He was full of farming and country living philosophies.

This morning the young pastor talks about a recent disappointment and lessons learned. Raw. Had to be tough, planning it, being transparent, setting aside masks.

He starts by saying if he came and talked about anything else without first dealing with this topic, it wouldn’t be right. NOW is the season. This is the time.

It was his best message ever.

And isn’t it always that way, the topics we’d rather not write about, prefer not to have sufficient experience to have something to say, aren’t those the ones that end up being the best work, the ones that really needed to be served up? Someone at the table needed it…and just at that time. You didn’t know.

Writing – all art – is an act of faith.

* * *
BACK IN THE EARLY 2000s I sell my story about hiding in the closet, hiding in my room. It appears in some obscure place. I forget about it, move on to some “how-to” assignment….how to pack for a conference, how to cook split pea soup, whatever.

Time passes. Then, from out of the blue, I receive an email. A young mother reads my closet story and writes:

“I am doing the same thing to my kids! I gave up trying to stay sober a few years ago. Kept failing. Now I know I’ve got to go back and keep on trying, for their sake. Thank you.”

I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting her as a reader. I didn’t have her in mind while writing, only those who may have been in MY shoes and needed to know they weren’t alone.

You just never know.

* * *
In writing workshops I always devote some time to writing about painful experiences, how and where and especially when.

The raw, recent, unprocessed stuff needs to go in journals or morning pages or whatever you like to call them. Perhaps, if you are fortunate enough to have a writing companion, a really good, trustworthy friend, exercise your voice in a letter.

Begin to say it. Not on a street corner, but in a safe space. Get a sense of where you are with it and where a reader might be in the reading, whether it’s too much. You may learn how you need to sculpt it so it serves both your need and some other good purpose, the telling.

None of this is wasted.

Don’t be in a hurry and explode, shotgun-like, on a world who can’t hear you because of the blast, you are making so much noise.

And maybe, just maybe, there will come a time when your story can be told more widely, when time and processing and healing have come to bear and to work, and a good seed has germinated and brought forth IN SEASON something you need to write for public consumption.

And then….go for it. Don’t shy away. Be surprised at what beauty ashes can turn into. (BUT get a good objective reader to review your stuff because once it’s out there, it’s out there.)

On the road this week. Will post, if able.


image by April

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.
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