I’m big on life lessons. Those of you who so kindly take the time to read my mental meanderings have probably already realized this. I don’t necessarily look for them but I tend to spot them easily, especially in some of the most unexpected situations.
Here is one example. Earlier this year, one of the writers’ associations to which I belong (Liberty States Fiction Writers—check them out at www.libertystatesfictionwriters.com) announced a contest. From January through May of 2009, members were encouraged and challenged to ‘Mayke it Happen’ or complete a full-length novel at a minimum 60 thousand words. All credit and kudos to those who did—I’m almost there, nearly three months post deadline, just shy of 59,000 as I write these thoughts. I also have the luxury of not relying on my (fiction) writing as a source of income, at least at present (though one can dream) and as intrigued as I was with the challenge, I knew I needed to work at my own pace, that I couldn’t force a book out of me in order to meet a timeline.
Last year the idea of forcing a solution really zinged home. We’d been in our house two days after ten weeks of living ‘the suite life’ at a local Holiday Inn (a fire took up the back wall of my home). My house was a major disaster after restoration. While driving to work I got hit by someone who ran a stop sign two blocks from my house. (I ended up renting a Mercedes; it was the “only” 4-cylinder vehicle available that day–what could I do?) I arrived home just as the dry cleaning company that had emptied my house of every item made of fabric two months earlier was bringing everything back. The workers stacked twelve 25-lb. boxes against my dining room wall and layered the floor with items on hangers as high as the dining room table, after having treated everything for ‘smoke damage’. Besides that, my entire first floor had been packed into boxes or a POD unit so that my floors could be refinished. Only the furniture had been returned to it’s pre-fire place. (Yours truly got to unpack every single other box–took me until August to empty the last one.) Not sure a word exists to describe how chaotic my house looked or how my family and I felt trying to navigate amidst that mess.
Life, however, had to go on. It was late May, so that evening, after having prepared dinner and cleaning up, I was dealing with my younger son’s homework. We heard the strangest noise upstairs. We traipsed up to the second floor and realized our youngest and smallest cat was standing guard over something in the only functional bathroom. A closer look under the vanity revealed a small squirrel. (He probably got in while the dry cleaning folks unloaded their van.)
O-o-o-kay. Now what? Could anything else have happened that day? My kids, especially my 9-year-old, began to panic. He begged us to go back to the hotel. My husband made a quick trip to Lowe’s, bought a humane trap and set it up, but that creature wouldn’t budge. Our biggest concern was him getting out of the only bathroom we could use, plus the kids were scared. My husband even got a little nutty and started calling for a stick, a kitchen knife and duct tape. Taming his inner “Rambo” wasn’t too hard once I reminded him he’d have to live with himself after the squirrel was gone.
At about ten-thirty, we decided the tiny critter wasn’t goin’ nowhere. He hadn’t moved from under the vanity even though we’d gone in and out several times. We made sure to keep the door fully closed while Mauer McNabb, feline sentinel extraordinaire, kept guard outside the door. When morning came, my husband raised the bathroom window screen. Within only a few minutes, the little guy climbed out and was gone.
So where’s the lesson? Well, when I heard about the ‘Mayke it Happen’ challenge my muse immediately felt the pressure. With a new manuscript underway (about 50 pages at the time), the challenge was exactly the impetus I needed, right? For some reason, though, I remembered the squirrel and how, when and if possible, letting a situation work itself out might be the better way to go. I’m not saying, by any means, that one should let things go, be complacent and hope something happens. There are times when taking action, setting and meeting a deadline, speaking up, etc is definitely the better way to go. In my life lessons and nearly a completed manuscript later, I’ve also found that manipulating the environment for the change I need then sitting back and letting a situation take its course has its place, too. And on that note, I’ll add that I write this blog as a necessary break away from my current work-in-progress, since thinking endlessly about my next scene and how/where it’s going is, at this moment, beyond me. I do know, it will come—it always does.
BTW, in addition to life lessons I love comments, too. Hope you take a moment to share instances when you had a choice to make,. Did you take action or let the situation take its own course? I’d love to know your stories and your outcomes. (For all you or I know, another book may be born. )Thanks for stopping by!
A SPECIAL NOTE: For those who love a mix of good reads, please join me on the Summer Reading Trail! Start right here at www.joannaaislinn.wordpress.com/read-an-excerpt then link up with other writers from there!