Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Responsibility of the writer to the Tale

"Inspiration does not always precede the act of writing; it often follows it. I go to my typewriter with reluctance; I check the ribbon; I check my black felt pens; I polish my collection of spectacles; finally  I start to put words, almost any words, down on paper. Usually, then, the words themselves will start to flow; they push me, rather than vice versa." - Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet, p. 162.

These words echo yesterday's IWSG Facebook post. Motivational Monday rings out with the scathing question: Do you wait until you feel like it before you write? The embarrassing truth is that I usually complain that I don't much feel like writing today, thank you very much, so I won't.

Saturday afternoon I looked outside my back door. The few potted plants I brought from Atlanta rattled in the breeze, only three of which are still alive. I've needed to clean out the old, dead foliage for months. But I don't feel like it. It's cold. It's dark when I get home from work. I pulled a muscle in my neck and chest and it's too painful to move (ok, that one is legitimate). My courtyard is cluttered with matted dead plants and crumpled leaves. All because I don't feel like cleaning up.

Is this an analogy of my writing mind? Perhaps, yes. Perhaps with the continual shoving away of the WORK of writing, slowly I let in the mold and decay. The same debris that slowly suffocates my still living plants symbolically chokes my stories. Just as the plants didn't ask me to plant them, I didn't ask for these ideas to come to me.

No matter. The responsibility is the same. Be you gardener or writer or some amalgam of both responsibility of caretaker is heavy. You water the herbs whether you feel like it or not. You weed the parsnips whether you feel like it or not. You sit at your computer and type - like it or not. Why? To keep things alive.

Stories are living things. They require constant trimming, pruning, fertilization to thrive. Just like my plants.



  1. Sometimes you have to do what you don't feel like doing. But usually, once you begin, that feeling comes.

  2. Exquisite expression of a writer's mind some days.

  3. So perfectly stated, Jen!

    Like you, I feel almost the same. But I do water the plants. I don't like dead things around me, so I push.

    I leave tomorrow for NY for the SCBWI winter conference. I am SOOOO tempted to bale. BUT, I WON'T. I cost a fortune and it's time to JUMP back to my writing. So much has happened to you with your move and starting up a new life. I am there with you. I've spent the past 3 weeks LOOKING for my perfect place in the south. I keep finding it, but there are obstacles... the first, the house is sinking into the earth. NO KIDDING. Then I find THE MOST FABULOUS place. I offer full price... the bank turns it down and posts they will be putting up the property for auction... CASH ONLY! My heart stopped. Who has that kind of cash lying around. Not me!

    So now, today, I will be moving forward and looking at a few new properties today. The former will be looming in the shadows with each new view. Damn that bank!

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  6. I think your garden and my garden could be friends.

    You're on the mark with the writing. I really need to develop better habits. If I write NO MATTER WHAT so many minutes every single day for enough days... habit.

  7. Alex: yes. Usually I don't want to do the very things I need to do...the very things I say I want to do.

    Karen: thank you so much!,

    Michael: way to be brave! That was me when I returned to school to finish my degree. I wanted to bale...again! But so much time and money had already been spent. I had to finish for myself. You must go to this conference.

    I know the struggle of seeking a home...even if the home is more a locale than a house. Things take their own time and if we allow them usually are wiser than we and work out at the most opportune time.

    Best of luck in the home search and the writers conference!

    Robin: you and me both! I have to make writing second nature. Like reading and research. I've got two of that holy trinity down. Why. It the third?

  8. I must admit that sometimes I don't write because I don't feel like writing. But there are also times where I want to work on my own writing but I have to write stuff like comments on students' papers or footnotes for my dissertation; I often find myself looking longingly at my journals while I'm working on "other" writing.

  9. Yes! Sometimes we are the biggest obstacle standing between where we are and where we want to be. I'm guilty of not doing things that I want to do because it's going to take a whole lot of steps that I don't want to take or are uncomfortable taking to get to the part that I really want to do. But doing those things that I don't want to do are where I grow the most and that make me capable of succeeding in what I want to do... Once you do the things you "don't want to do", you'll find that they really weren't all that bad and they'll be easier to do the next time.

    Your words and stories are worth your investment. They matter because you matter. Plant, water and prune them... They will grow, up and down beyond you; roots and branches, giving shade and shelter to those who find themselves in their midst.


Thank you for taking the time out of your busy, fantastic life to pay a visit! I appreciate every, single comment and I'll continue the conversation here :) It makes this big blog-verse of ours feel a little more like home.

Cheers! ~J