No longer a lingering fall, the world just beyond my door is looking a little frosty. It’s forty degrees outside, with a freeze warning issued for tomorrow.
Two weeks ago a neighbor asked, as I was up to my knees in leaves, when my raking season would be over. In the midst of working, I rarely get caught up with how many hours the work will take or when it will end. But with his invitation to take stock, I looked up. And with a dense canopy still in place, I predicted I would rake through November.
I was wrong. The paper-thin leaves were no match for last week’s strong Oklahoma winds. They gave up their tenuous hold on life without a protest. Seemingly overnight, the countenance of the trees has changed — and they look cold without their protective summer covering. Already, the best of autumn has blown away, with me keeping silent vigil at my writing desk. Watching. Waiting. Writing.
My year has been enriched by time sown at this desk. In this season of beautiful falling leaves, I realize that I am in the midst of autumn in my own life. It is a good time to take stock and make plans for what I want to do with whatever autumn days remain, before I am forced to make provision for the winter days to come.
This time last year I prayed a wordless prayer that resulted in a rare vision; I saw myself writing something intently on my computer. Most of my writing, up to that point was done with a pencil and an inexpensive journal, except for the occasional e-mail or Christmas letter. So this vision sent me to wonder: what could I be writing on the computer? A year later, here I sit, and I have my youngest son to thank for this passage, shedding my paper pages in favor of this digital one.
Kyle recently asked what gift he could bring for my birthday. “My blog is gift enough,” I replied. Neither Kyle nor I could know what gifts this writing space would bring to my life, when he sat me down to my computer last December. Every writer wishes to be read. To write and not be read it to write into a black hole. So today, I rejoice in having readers; and I rejoice every time I receive a comment.
And who could know that blog words could grow into articles for the local master gardener’s newsletter or into prayer meditation class words which appear to be growing into Advent presentation words to who knows what else they may one day grow into. Kyle has always been a champion of my writing (as I hope I am for his.)
It should not have surprised me then, that three weeks ago, Kyle asked me to look up. Dropping into my life like some scary angel of old, Kyle inquired for news of my novel plans, remembering the story idea I foolishly shared with him several years ago. But rather than take stock, I replied that I didn’t have a novel in me to birth.
Am I’m just playing it safe? And as I write this question, I remember another call to venture out into the publishing world, when a blog friend suggested I submit one on my pieces about Daddy for the back page of a national news magazine — which I now confess, I’ve skirted as well. It’s flattering of course. But something in me tells me I’m not quite ready for this write of passage. Who knows if I will ever feel ready?
In the autumn days of my life, I am content to write here. I try to create a little more beauty in the world, both at and beyond this writing desk. Beautiful writing is good, I suppose. But good writing should not be just a beautiful string of words. Good writing should be a passage into another world, where the reader looses sense of time and becomes lost in the story. In good writing, the words simply disappear.
My writing is not ready to fall from the tree, to be pressed into leaves of a book. And with few promises to keep I will hope for “miles to go before I sleep.”
In my files, I have a title for a yet unwritten post, called Writer’s Intuition.
It would deal with exactly the issue you raise here – knowing when to take the next step. I’ve gone through it several times. When I began writing at weather underground, one reader kept saying “You need to leave this place and look for a bigger stage”. Eventually I took that advice – sort of. I moved on, but maintained that first blog as well.
Then it was, “You need to ‘really’ write”. Then it was, “You need to be published”. Then, “You need to write a novel”. And so on.
I’ve resisted the whole way. I don’t “need” to do anything but what I’m doing.
After all, we do publish our blogs, and if what we write isn’t “real”, well… I don’t know what it is.
I happen to know a couple of published authors, each with a couple of books, who never have spoken to someone who’s read their books – apart from family and co-workers. What fun is that?
Thanks for your reality check. It’s good to hear a little of your personal story.
In the moment, I never know whether I’m making the right decision or not. Hindsight helps, of course, but even then not totally. Writing these words remind me of another ‘autumn passage’ written by St. Paul,
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
When Paul wrote these words, he never dreamed they would one day be ‘best-seller’ material. He was just going about his daily work, writing a letter to his flock. The fact that he did this more often to the needy at Corinth makes me wonder if he threw up his arms before sending each missal, with words like: Oh my God, not those Corinthians again — when will they ever learn?”
When will I ever learn — when will I learn how to discern the time to move ahead? Hopefully I will just write my way through the dim passage and see Realiity waiting at the other end.
I struggle with a similar but polar opposite problem: knowing I need to move ahead, taking steps and being blocked by circumustances. It’s even created an apparently immoveable writer’s block for anything more than a few short stories and poems and I can’t shift it. Maybe it’s time for patience.
I have been taking some very exciting steps towards achieving some of my goals and it may be that that was the way to go, by bypassing the usual routes.
good luck. The novel emerges when it is fully ready and not before; you could be surprised by it tomorrow, like labour pains but nicer!
This business of waiting comforts and constrains; while I am sheltered by its presence, you are held back in its arms.
Until circumstances sort themselves out, I pray your time of waiting will the fruitful. And I would say that it is, just from the few spontaneous verse you’ve shared with me. I enjoyed reading your response in verse to my ordinary life as well as your response to my dancing in circles — each breathes childlike wonder. Before visiting your blog, I wondered who had written your ballerina dance verse; never dreaming they were your own. Viv, you are very gifted.
I wait with you for Christmas stockings to be filled or taken down to explore and share. It always arrives… in it’s own good time.
Here’s to waiting, new writing friend.
Thank you; you are very kind!
I am off next week to mainland Europe and the Christmas markets of Germany and Northern France, as a part of my job, so I will think of this and of you when I see the Christmas stockings!
Oh. I hope I’m kind, but not for sharing those words with you. I just call THEM like I see THEM.
Your trip to the Christmas markets sounds lovely. Perhaps you should splurge and buy yourself a nice stocking to fill with snippets of your lovely verse. On bleak dim days, they will be there to pull out to remind you of your gift.
You have generosity of spirit because many people see things and do not say them because of…well, just because (think of a reason)
I usually come back with something lovely when I do these trips and I had been concerned that the exchange rate would mean I’d be feeling the pinch but it seems to have gone up and I got my euros this morning.
I’ve been emailling my German friends who live in Cologne and we’re hoping to meet for a short while. All good!
To hear that you are traveling to Cologne reawakened memories of my own visit there in 1991, in particular, my short visit to that soaring beautiful Cathedral that keeps company near the train station. It strikes me that both buildings are host to travelers, carrying us to places far and near.
If you have time, I invite you to spend a few minutes in the cathedral. See what gifts it offers you. But for heaven’s sake and your own, please don’t let my invitation burden you in any way. You have much to do there I know. So if the time is not there, there’s no need to squeeze more in. Even though you travel for business, you travel to friends, so in that, you travel to a sanctuary, whether your feet pass through that ancient cathedral or not!
I am doing my best already to try and squeeze in a visit to the Dom; I really wanted to, last time I went, two years ago. It will either take place on the Saturday afternoon if we can manage it and the teachers are happy to stop by for a few minutes, or in the evening, if there is a service going on we can peer at for a short while, but the Dom usually shuts at 7pm so we may not get in during the evning visit to the Dom markt. I am also meeting a student I taught two years ago and kept in touch with; plus his boyfriend!
I especially wanted to visit the Dom because of its connection with the Magi; there is a relic there of them. Seems almost criminal to miss it at this time of year!
if I can i will light a candle…