Friday, July 20, 2012

Off the Wall

is what you call someone odd, eccentric, one brick shy. 
Like that woman seen walking all over town
dressed in black, talking to herself or perhaps to God.

Like that man in church on the front row, eyes closed tight, feigning sleep, his heart remaining open as morning glories reaching toward the sun.

The girl who holds an orphaned squirrel in her bra like a newborn in a snugly, appeased by mamma’s heartbeat. She sneaks him an occasional acorn through the neckline of her tee.

A daughter who could have made good like her mother in nuclear physics but doesn’t. Rather than succeed as such, she’ll stay in touch with her inner child (thank you very much.), shaping owls and salamanders out of clay…

Transforming Altoid tins into treasures. She’ll go to sleep and paint
her dreams in the morning, measure truth by their content…

When she sees a hall at school, students herded along by a bell – a bell!
– she thinks of Pavlov’s dogs and how thrilled she feels to be skipping
 down the wall – that’s right, the wall

- beside the girl with the squirrel in her bosom. 


The last four lines reveal an unforgettable dream I had, where I was skipping along the wall with an artist friend.  How paradoxical dreams can be. We weren’t the ones off the wall. It’s the others in the herd.  Isn’t life a paradox though?   

"'Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too?
Thought I was the only one....'"C. S. Lewis

How much of a rebel are you?  Are you off the wall too?  How so?
What idiosyncrasy would you dare to share below?  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Inch by Inch

The scariest moment is always just before you start.
After that, things can only get better. ~ Stephen King, On Writing

Red narrating in The Shawshank Redemption:

“In 1966 Andy Dufresne escaped from the Shawshank prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap, and an old rock hammer…

“I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall with it.  Old Andy did it in less than twenty…Turns out Andy’s favorite hobby was totin’ his wall out into the exercise yard, a handful at a time.”

How much this story taught me! I learned what persistence and hope can do for a soul… not just for an innocent prisoner with a will and the genius to set himself free, but for anyone facing a seemingly insurmountable task…

Maureen Boyd Biro, editor and author says, “It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by a big project, but if I only have to concentrate on one inch, well, that I can handle. Eventually those inches will be feet and yards and whatever it takes to make a book.”

One year after seeing The Shawshank redemption, I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  It was among the best advice I’ve read on writing – or tackling any job that feels overwhelming. “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

That’s how you finish an epic manuscript: one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter at a time.  Taken step by step, the thousand mile journey is doable. Just ask marathon man Stephen King.

What walls are you facing that could be removed a handful at a time?
A novel?  A memoir? A research project? A house than needs decluttering?
Or, what have you already accomplished inch by inch?  Please share below.
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