Free to Not

Censored mailTruth is, if someone had asked me that last day in Nebraska what my takeaway from the retreat was, there was one thing clear.

I feel free to stop writing for publication.” Sounds strange, I know. Most people come away from a writer’s retreat inspired about a new project or renewed in their commitment to an ongoing one.

But a stop sign is also direction.

Nobody asked and I was glad. I wasn’t ready to say it aloud. Once I returned home, once I unpacked and settled, once I processed and considered, surely I’d go the other way with it.

I swear, I must have been absent from school the day they covered gut feelings and how to go with them.

* * *

Tammy writes about “Living the Small Creases of Your Life.”

There are times you live in the hidden nooks-n-crannies of your life, as if it were a shrinking back. But that’s not entirely true. It’s really a folding into your life. One that’s necessary and truer.

There it is again. Permission. What seems like shrinking back is really a folding in.

Ideas pop, and against the too-long-blank canvas of my mind, they splash like fireworks. An old voice pitches to me. Write an article. Write a series. Query today. They will love it!

But I have this other investment I’m making, see? My peak creative time is spoken for.

* * *

NEXT MORNING again, before sunrise, I start a letter.

When the sun comes over the roof of the house across the street, I pull the curtain a bit, to keep the blinding ray at bay. Just 5 more minutes. That’s all I need and I’ll be done. Always the same, every day.  Just 5 more minutes, please.

The dog lies tucked in beside me in the upholstered chair, tight. I sometimes imagine he is sending me sentences, but pay no mind to that. It’s the least of my insanities, but I have changed chairs since rescuing him, so he has a place.

He’ll not stir until the printer prints. I get up for coffee or a sweater and he doesn’t lift an eyelid. But he knows when he hears that printer, his breakfast is not far off.

I pick up a pen,
I sign,
I fold the paper into thirds. These are the small creases into which I am tucking my everyday life, a mixed bag of a ramble, all so much nothing that turns out to be something to someone else.

* * *

SHE’S GONE DOWNTOWN and surrendered herself. Five days after I’m back from JT, she goes – just as instructed, just as she needed to do, just as arranged for in her plea agreement. We won’t be meeting at Panera again, not for a very long time.

Today I got a response from her, stamped on the back that it had been seen by the censors first. My postman’s gotten used to this, the regular influx of screened mail.

It’s arrival means my first letter got there okay! I’m happy for that.

“You never told me that story!” she writes. “I’ve read it three times so far.”

It’s crazy math, I know, but one letter read 3 times means more to me than one article seen by thousands.


You might also like:

When Telling Your Story is a Scary Thing

When Telling Your Story is a Scary Thing


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 compassion, intentional relating, JTreat2015, strange math, transitions. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Free to Not

  1. Oh Marilyn… this is all kinds of beautiful! One letter read 3 times, and counting… love this!


  2. Now this is a thing of beauty, the “crazy math.” Yes, indeed! Thank you for reminding us of this other-worldly multiplication.


  3. I wish we’d interacted more at the retreat. Now that I’ve read this, I really wish I could just call you up.


  4. Marilyn,
    This makes me so glad we talked at the airport…this makes me smile …”crazy math” sounds like God-inspired math to me 🙂 ((hugs))


  5. annkroeker says:

    Yes, yes. This–THIS–is the writing life, too. We must not forget that. You did “submit” your work in the sense that you sent it off to its intended audience.


  6. I so love this. #perspective on why we put words on paper. To change lives. To make a difference. To listen to God and write. You are doing all of that in real personal ways. Better one life changed than 1 million books sold.


  7. elizabethfstewart says:

    What a beautiful obedience you are living. I’m so blessed to have met you at JT, and to have that more personal connection with your words here.


  8. Susan says:

    I’m just reading the for the first time today. Not sure how or why I missed it. These words are worth more to me than you could possibly imagine. I so get your crazy math…


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