Posts Tagged ‘writers’


Christmas Lights and the Gap

December 1, 2016

I’m not sure why my dad always chose the coldest day in December to put up the outside Christmas tree lights, but invariably, he did. First, he’d ramble up to the attic and hand me boxes of green and blue lights, and then we’d spread them in the living room to check if they worked. Instead of going to Wal-Mart and buying a new string, we’d carefully replace each defective bulb until all 8000 lit the room.

The tree outside was enormous. Dad would climb on his tallest ladder and use a rake to get them as high as he could. He swore a few times, and our feet froze, but when he’d flip the switch, and the tree blazed with blue and green lights, magic happened. For me, nothing was more beautiful. I never noticed the gaps, void of light that my dad pointed out, grumbling about his work, wanting perfection.

We don’t do outside tree lights at our house now, but I am in charge of stringing tiny, white bulbs on our inside tree. Really, it’s a thankless job. They tangle; they get stuck on branches; they burst; and they crack. But at the end of the day, the room is lit with magnificent light: until. Until I see what my dad saw—the gaping hole, a spot in the middle of the tree too tall to reach. By the time I’ve noticed, the kids have covered the branches with ornaments and tinsel, and it’s too late to fix. The gap remains.

I’m trying hard to reverse my thoughts about the holes in life.

Too often, an artist desires perfection, unable to see the beauty in the entire piece and instead, focuses on the gap. Writers and painters adjust, repair, and fine-tune their work until it’s done, but often, they continue to see a tiny hole; something that’s not quite right in their eyes. Most writers I know look at their published work and still see holes to fix. Not big ones, not ones that anyone else sees, but the tiny slices that need repairing only to the artist.

As a writer, I’m always editing (just ask my kids). But I’m working on letting go of the perfection. There may always be a gap. That’s the way life works. And if the rest of the world sees beautiful light, so should we.


NaNo Reflection

January 26, 2015

Every November writers around the world collectively participate in a free on-line program, attempting to complete a 50K word manuscript. Developed as a non-profit organization, the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) offers tips, resources, a buddy program, and a place to chart your progress. Their mission statement states:
National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.

Writing in groups is not my forte, but last fall I decided to try it. I registered for NaNo and diligently added my daily word count to the website.

I did not reach NaNo’s goal of 50K words per writer, but I didn’t expect to. My goal was to blast a rough draft and create a working manuscript to redo and redo and redo. That, I achieved. I know my characters and am now wandering the pages with them, tossing challenges and obstacles their way.

NaNo isn’t for everyone, and I was hesitant to try. But I’m glad that I did. If nothing else, I exercised my writing and used the month as a practice. Writers must train like athletes and musicians. Baseball players don’t step up to the plate and hit a home run the first time, nor do musicians sit at the piano bench and play Mozart without practice. Everyone needs to head back to the keys and work.

If you’re a writer, write. Every day. Programs like NaNo, books with prompts, and workshops are great avenues to jumpstart one’s writing, but the most important part of writing is to write. If a doing a daily word count helps you focus, then count. If editing a page before writing another engages you, then do it. And if working with other writers in a collective arena inspires you to push forward, then by all means, consider doing NaNo next fall, but in the meantime, continue to write. Every day.