Writing, Reading, and Smiling . . . It's Contagious.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Don't Jump!"

I was on a ledge this week.

Like Jack Finney's ledge walker, I was clinging to reality with my fingertips as I witnessed a scrap of my sanity leap from my desk and bolt through a crack in the window.  At that moment I was prepared to renounce my vocation and rejoin those smart folks rising before the sun to submit their freedom to those of higher rank.  

No.  My fist struck the desk, rattling a cheap plastic container of rarely used writing utensils.  Nononononono.  

I rushed across the room and opened the window.  My teeth snapped together as a blast of arctic air attacked my exposed flesh.  Shuddering, I gripped the windowsill and dared to poke my head into the wintry morning.  The sloping roof, the sunken walk, and the dehydrated phlox in the courtyard were concealed beneath a blinding white blanket.  My squinting eyes combed the snow, sifting through its fluffy layers.  Where was my sanity?  I found it lying four feet below the window in a tangle of dead lavender that had broken through the icy carpet.

I clenched the cold windowsill, held my breath, and lunged.

"Don't jump."

What?  My legs thrashed in the warm void of my office, preventing me from pitching forward. 

"Don't jump."

My stomach sunk into the ledge as I balanced my tottering body on the cold sill.  How long could I waver between the warmth of the room and the cold outdoors where my sanity had fled?


A warm breath expelled from my lips, transforming into a white winter mist as it drifted to the mound where my sanity lay.  The vapor faded into the cool morning and I slid back into the warmth of the office.

This week my sanity has been invested in a work I wrote many years ago.  Although I dread reading the ramblings of the past, I've been reformatting Dead Bird in the Weeds.  As I analyze the words, thoughts, and themes of this book, I see a being who does not write, think, speak, or feel as I do.  I'm not worried.

I'm overjoyed.

I'm not going to "jump" by rewriting or pitching Dead Bird in the Weeds.  I'm going to smile and continue with my reformatting.  Why?  Because past works, like the life of an individual, reflect the path we have journeyed to reach our current state of being.  

When you look back, never be afraid to admit that you have outgrown your old writing.  Embrace the change, learn from your mistakes, and grow.


Next week I'll be blogging about a chunk of gold I found in the midst of my writerly wanderings.  Well, it's not actually my gold.  It's Jillian's Gold, a novel by Levi Montgomery.


As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re in the cyber-neighbourhood, drop me a line.
In the meantime, keep writing, reading, and smiling.
It’s contagious.


Levi Montgomery said...

Glad you were able to come down off that ledge, because four feet into lavender-pierced snow sounds fatal!

Well, not really, as you've discovered. Your past work is never going to kill you, but the best you can hope for from a work you completed some time ago is not to be too embarrassed by it, and Dead Bird in the Weeds certainly shouldn't embarrass you.

It's a good read.


J.E. Seanachaí said...

Thanks, Levi!

I think we can all learn something from each piece we write, whether it be about our techniques or ourselves. With new lessons learned, we can better arm ourselves for new challenges.

By the way, folks, don't be alarmed. I wasn't REALLY on a ledge. It was a metaphorical ledge.

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