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.”