Nathan Bransford, Author


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guest Blog Week: One, Two, Three, Five, Four

Bryan Russell (aka Ink) blogs at Alchemy of Writing. He is moderator/sheriff in the Forums and has my vote for Prime Minister of Canada

I had a very clear image, when I was young, of the path I was going to take. The Writer’s Journey. More specifically, the writer’s journey I would take, carefully laid out, 1, 2, 3, 4. It was a neat little trip. Very orderly. Very tidy. In high school, once I knew that yes telling stories is what I wanted to do, I decided to major in Creative Writing at University. Thus, The Plan: 1) Study Creative Writing. 2) Write A Book. 3) Get An Agent. 4) Get Book Published. (Yes, everything on the list was capitalized. This is Important Stuff)

And note the neatness! The tidiness! Note the lack of anything implanting itself between the end of University and the Glories of Publication!

I had a plan. It was very comforting, that plan. So I went to school, got good grades, wrote a few short stories, won some academic awards. 1… check. In fact, number 1 was so fun that I added 1b: Grad School. A Masters Degree and a chance to write a novel! I could squoosh 2 into 1b! Bonus marks for me. So Grad school and a novel.

Yet, somewhere along this path, I learned that writing was hard, getting an agent harder, and getting published even more so. But this was an abstract knowledge. Getting published was very hard, yes. You know, for other people. I had a plan, you see. It was right there on the list, number 4: Get Book Published. See? No problem. Obviously the whole idea of difficulty did not apply to me.

But, just to be safe, just to uphold the proper hardworking image, I got a degree in Education. A job! A career! But it was okay because I had my book. In fact, I had a few books. Peachy! Ahead of schedule. Here I was, just out of school, and I had books!

So I sent one of these books off to an agent and they said yes. This was good, and all according to The Plan. See? Right there, number 3) Get An Agent.

1, 2, 3. Neat and tidy. And then something funny happened, something… messy. We’ll call it 5) Life. And 5, let me tell you, was pushy. It would not stay in line. It had to jump in there ahead of 4.

There were lots of parts to number 5) Life, lots of addendums, provisos and postscripts.

I developed a disease, Colitis. And then my father died suddenly and everything went a little dark. There were shadows I had never noticed before, the weight of light shrugged off and forgotten. In these shadows it seemed hard to find words, to gather them in and set them down in neat little rows, the tidy rows I had always loved so much. And then my agent died, cancer stealing her away just when she was about to start submitting my novel.

5) Life.

Yet I had just gotten married. I bought a house, started a family, left one career and started another, having decided to open a little bookshop. There were lights in the darkness. And I remembered, always, a winter day just after my father died. Snow on the ground, the air sharp as a pine needle on cold skin. And the light, this slanted light coming down and refracting off the snow, a clean glow rising like mist and lingering in the air. So beautiful it ached, a permanent visual echo lodged in my memories… and I knew this was something important. Even here, on the far side of loss, there was beauty and light.

I began to write again, thinking of that halo of light over the snow. I put the old novel away. It wasn’t ready yet, anyway, agent or no agent. I’d rewrite it some day, but now I needed something new.

New books, new family, new store. New life, in a way, though forever tethered to the old. And now the process continues. I’m back at 3) Get An Agent. The list, now, is dirty, wrinkled, old. Well worn. I laugh at the Capitals. I know a little more about 5) Life. And, what’s more, I know a little more about writing. The two are not unconnected.

It’s a different plan, in many ways, a different understanding. Difficulty can apply to me as easily as it does to anyone else. Indeed, some have had it easier… though many have had it far worse. Yet that difficulty is part of my path. Perhaps I’m even better for it.

Still moving forward, full of hope.

And you? What keeps you moving forward on your path… or keeps you moving forward even when you’re off the path? I see clean light on snow. I see it and know there’s something yet to share, to say, to write. To live. And you?






109 comments:

Anonymous said...

As I sit here in a computer lab with 21 kids trying to type their essays I taught them how to write, I think your post helps me realize my writing is just as important. Thank you. (hug)

Robena Grant said...

This was beautiful, Ink. I love your voice. Experiencing the bitter and sweet in life, and moving through it all with some kind of grace, will improve our writing if we allow ourselves to be open and honest. The work will gain the depth and meaning necessary for success. If you aren't published yet, I believe your success is imminent.

Mira said...

Beautiful post, Bryan.

Or perhaps I should say, Mr. Prime Minister? :)

This was very moving.

I struggle with wanting to give up the path at times. It's hard. But it's that very difficulty that makes me yearn for expression. It's hard that you - me - all of us, really - have frustrating and heart-breaking bumps in the road, but I believe it's those very bumps that make us the artists we are.

See? I'm too moved by your post to even give you a hard time. :) Shoot.

Beautiful writing, Ink. I know your talent will take you to some wonderful places. :)

Brent Peterson said...

The 'dream' is everything. I consider those who have one to be one of the lucky ones.

What keeps me going - the euphoria I feel when I lose myself in the worlds and stories I create. In other words, I write for myself and I love it.

Man plans and God laughs. I'm 47 and my list is also dirty and wrinkled. I too have changed course (several times) and now writing is my new dream. Isn't it nice to know you can find your true passion at any stage in the game?

Thank you for your remarkable post! And as a Canadian, I would definitely vote for you as PM --lord knows we need a new one!

Anonymous said...

Life is beautiful and messy and disaterous and miraculous. Thanks for the reminder.

Suzannah-Write It Sideways said...

I was so excited to find today's post written by my fellow Canadian (and fellow university student, and possibly one-time classmate), Ink!
This is a beautiful story, and one that should make us all sit up and recognize that there are no sure things in this business.

But fear not, you'll get there. I have that warm tingly feeling about it all.

And might I say, I'm not surprised in the least that you used snow in this post. It reminds me so much of home.

Best of luck with your writing, and I'm looking forward to picking your literary brain on the forums.

Bane of Anubis said...

Life is a cruel bitch who cares little for the wants (and needs) of humanity, much less individuals. As you so poignantly relate, the journey can be harsh, painful, and unrelenting. We have two choices. Keep staring into the abyss, or pick ourselves up and trudge on. Kudos to you, Bryan.

Lindsey Himmler said...

Love this post. Life is so neat and orderly when we're young. But the amazing thing is that I know if I had followed my list, I would never have any pain to write about. Funny how that works.

Kristine Overbrook said...

What keeps me going? My father. He had big goals, big dreams, but did nothing to make them reality. He was so afraid to fail that he didn't dare try. I can't function that way. I have to try. If I fail, I learn and am wiser when I try again. I've finished two novels and had a short story published.

If you don't try you never fail, but there is also no way to succeed.

The Pollinatrix said...

Glorious! If I was an agent I'd take you on in a heartbeat.

What moves me forward on the writing path is that it just won't go away no matter how much I've ignored it when Life has gotten in the way.

I became jaded with The Writing Life for a while after grad school, but am now back to it, with much less angst about Getting Published.

I'm writing now because I love it and I'm good at it. I love noticing and drawing attention to the uncanny and ubiquitous connections that present themselves to me. And behold! The more I notice and write about them, the more they appear. Go figure.

Kayeleen said...

I started out thinking I would spend a lifetime with writing and english, but changed course when I got to college. I spent ten years earning a degree in psychology, planning to go into some kind of public service.

Then life happened. Wonderful, exhilarating life. I got married and had two kids. In the quiet moments of naptime, I rediscovered my love for writing.

I've only been serious about writing for less than a year now, but it's become something I really do want for the rest of my life, regardless of what life continues to hand me.

ryan field said...

Nice post. I wanted to be the next Maxwell Perkins, but I took a few side streets along the way :)

Anonymous said...

Touching...thank you.

Arabella said...

The details are different for me, but life definitely did get in the way. I don't regret any of it, though. Good luck to you.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I enjoyed your post very much. It rings so true with reality and my own experience. So much of the time I've been so caught up in #5 that I've forgotten it's not about the arrival but about enjoying the journey. Like those moments you mentioned when the sun's rays shine on the snow.

Thermocline said...

Thank you, Ink.

That ole #5 pushes us onward, which, for my money, is better than stagnation. I started writing because I needed to MOVE. I was drowning in sameness. Now, I have a craft, insecurities about it, and disappointments from rejections, but I l-o-v-e love it. I am alive in the struggles.

Serenissima said...

Lovely post, Ink. Something tells me that #3 and #4 are in your not-too-distant future.

Ink said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. And thanks for sharing some of your own experiences, too, as one of the things that has always made this journey easier for me is knowing I wasn't alone. Knowing that there were other writers on their own journeys, facing (and overcoming) similar things. It helps to hear how other people coped.

And Prime Minister! Sure! Vote away. As a corrupt public official I would be absolutely lovely.

Ink said...

Mira,

I had the catapult all ready...

Like the Death Star I've been preparing it in secret. "Fully operational", oh yes.

All Adither said...

Swoon, swoon, swoon. Your words are tidy, indeed. And elegant. And very readable. They pulled me through to the end of your post. And most blog entries don't.

Same: Life. Husband, house, children, other writing jobs (but none the novel), an independent editor telling me my manuscript is almost there. Heavy, dark doubt, still. I see the refracted light sometimes. Without the dark, though, I probably wouldn't even notice the refraction. So, I'm thankful for both.

ryan field said...

"Knowing that there were other writers on their own journeys, facing (and overcoming) similar things. It helps to hear how other people coped."

It's the strength you get from these things that makes your writing better.

Ink said...

Ryan,

Yeah, I agree. And it helps you not just as a writer, but as a person. I mean, I think that's part of why we're all here, as readers and writers. Stories mean something. They can touch us, can shape who we are or who we want to be. And that goes for the ones we write as well as the ones we read. But I think hearing others stories connects us, gives us something we can use and share. It's like a chain, energy passed on from story to story.

Benjamin Westbrook said...

A wonderful post Ink.

For me it's being able to tell my daughter one day to follow her dreams and beleive in herself, knowing I'm not a hypocrite.

Kristi said...

Bryan - I loved this! Like you, I gave up the careful order in which I thought things should happen. The craziness of life and kids has made me a stronger person -- and a stronger writer. You're absolutely correct that life and writing are interconnected. Now I'm all about baby steps. Best of luck w/ your writing and thanks for this!

Terry said...

Ink, that was beautiful. I'm glad you're back at it, after all your suffering. I too have had terrible losses, so you really touched me with this.

I'm trying to get myself back together now too. My writing seems to follow my mourning, though. When I'm feeling OK, my writing is fine, when I'm not, it's slow going.

But after suffering major loss, little things like rejection, are no more than a mosquito bite. One good thing.

My new writing plan is less ambitious but still good. I just started blogging today. I thought I'd never be able to do that. Baby steps.

What keeps me moving forward are my husband and friends and my new blogging pals. I've met so many nice people in the writing community online. And hearing their stories and watching how they keep plugging inspires me.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Truer words, truer words...

Anonymous said...

My plan was:
1)study science
2) write book
3) get agent
4)publish book

In reality I went: 1, 2, 5 (life), 2, 5 (more life), 2, 4!

A.R. Williams said...

Life is what happens when we're busy making other plans.

I don't know who made that quote, but they're right. Great post. And good luck with #4

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

One sentence in there is an extraordinary piece of poetry:

"There were shadows I had never noticed before, the weight of light shrugged off and forgotten."

Matilda McCloud said...

Beautiful post. I always like reading your posts over at your blog, too. Keep writing...

My trajectory has been somewhat similar...creative writing major in college, long career in publishing (a writing-killer, I think), marriage and kids, loss of parents. I've noticed, however, that my writing has become even more important to me over the years.

Ulysses said...

A.R.W.: the quote if from John Lennon.

Bryan - Well done. Life does have a tendency to get in the way. But I know I could not write about love or loss if I had never experienced those things.

I will, however, contest your leadership of our home and native land. If anyone's going to become a corrupt but beloved despot, I'd prefer it be me. Vote early and vote often.

Rebecca Knight said...

"Even here, on the far side of loss, there was beauty and light."

This really spoke to me, because I've been there, too :). Thank you for this beautifully written post, and good luck to you with both #4, and #5!

Rick Daley said...

Great post Bryan, I think many of us can empathize with it. Except the good grades part (for me, at least). I was always much better at procrastinating than at studying.

I do keep pushing forward, though. It's not just that I am driven to write, but I have many good stories to tell, and writing novels happens to be my preferred medium. They are books I want to read, and to be able to do that, I need to write them.

Emily White said...

Bryan,

This post has sent me into a quiet, contemplating mood. I, too, created a list a while ago and yes, Life got in the way at certain points. But you're right, life and writing don't have to be two separate entities. I needed to hear this. Thank you.

Kristan said...

Wow. Just... wow.

Thank you.

Yamile said...

I'll echo the others before me: WOW. Such beautiful writing, such a talent and gift with words.
In my plan, writing wasn't even mentioned because it was a given, but I've realized that I have to fight to keep this obsession I have with words, even if it means staying up until two in the morning because it's the only time my children let me write.
Thanks for this beautiful post.

abc said...

lovely.

Mira said...

Ink -

Really? The catapult's all ready? Awww, I hate for it to go to waste...

Well, can you fling some snow over here? Your post made me see the whiteness and purity of snow.......and all we've got is this darn monsoon of rain. Wet.

fatcaster said...

Ink --

Well-written. Very well-written. Most excellently well-written. Very astute, too. You've got my vote, but only if you get the Coyotes the hell out of Arizona and back where they pucking belong.

Yat-Yee said...

Great post. Moving and encouraging.

Susan Quinn said...

Ink, your words never fail to move me to tears - or to spit-choking laughter, depending on the blog posting! If there's any justice left in the world, your words will soon be seen by many, many more people. I have a feeling that 2010 is your year.

You have too much heart to be a corrupt public official. I know from which I speak, on this. I only wish that more of our leaders (pick any country) had your wisdom.

Dana said...

Lovely post! Thanks so much

jmartinlibrary said...

I love the phrase "moving forward."

Staying on that positive trajectory takes focus. Thanks for keeping me on track with this post!

Marsha Sigman said...

Prime Minister Ink...very well said. Love to hear you wax poetic....you even made me miss snow.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post. It reminds us to leave room for the unexpected. :)

My journey was and is different and yet just the same. I've always put writing aside with the goal to do something more practical financially for my family. I had a plan: school, cpa certification, work. What I didn't expect was for writing to continue knocking until I finally opened the door and allowed it to settle in my life. Now, I can't see myself doing anything else.

Ink said...

Thanks again, everyone.

I was going to say that one of the key things to continuing onward was having, somewhere at the root of things, a deep confidence in what I was doing. Yet I'm not sure confidence is the right word. Commitment, perhaps. A commitment of self, where somewhere at the center of things we realize that this thing we do, the placement of words on pages, is an integral part of ourselves. Part of who we are. And then having faith in the value of that, in the importance of stories, whether published or not.

I suppose I always come back to that in the end, and I'm not sure I could escape it even if I wanted to.

Jil said...

Lovely and wise post, fellow Canadian! I especially connected to the part about living and getting the most out of life to be able to write about it. Writing does make life richer, as every nuance must be savored and remembered to be used later. Even the bad things are easier to suffer through as your heart dissects them and then lends them to a budding Character.

Marilyn Peake said...

That is absolutely beautiful, Bryan. I am crying. You are a true writer. Sitting here on an incredibly busy day, just stopping by to catch up on Internet reading, I saw the light on the snow, your gift to the world, stood spellbound, frozen in my tracks. You caught me off guard, tapped me on the shoulder as good writers do, tapped into my own experience with Life.

I’ve had the same experience with Writing. Yes, Life, #5 on your list, is messy. It vies for attention. It’s a wild thing. Kind of like raising lions. You can tame Life or lions and have them cooperate for long periods of time. But, ultimately, both are wild and out of control and will demand your respect.

I’ve lost both of my parents and my mother-in-law to cancer, and two of my closest aunts to old age. Life is sometimes dark; but there is always light, even if only a pinprick of light shining through the deepest darkness.

What keeps me moving forward as a writer, not giving up forever? I’m not sure. It’s just the way I’ve always related to the world. While part of me lives life, another part of me is always observing and writing stories in my mind.

D. Antone said...

What a fantastic read! Life is so full of unexpected changes. I went to college with the intention of becoming a dentist and instead became a writer. Your comments really speak to me. Thanks!

Reesha said...

wow.

For me it's reading stuff like this.

TKAstle said...

Thanks, Ink. Beautiful post. It is, for me, a timely point of light.


word verification: ullywoop - This word simply must be used in a children's book somewhere, yes?

Maggie Dana said...

What keeps me moving forward? Reading posts such as this. I've bookmarked your site and moved it to the top (well, almost to the top) of the stuff I read every day.

Your talent inspires me.

Melanie Avila said...

Beautiful post. I love your voice. :)

Seamus said...

Writing has chosen an excellent evangelist in you, Ink.

I have had many plans, none of which involved writing. Yet, early in life, my mother instilled in me her love for the language and an affinity for the craft. Only now, at 52, do I realize this form of expression speaks to my heart. I hear her ghost in my voice and and feel her firm hand at my wrist as I do what now seems to be the most natural outlet of my life's engergies. And, yeah, life keeps happening as both an impediment and a fuel for this work.

Sandra G. said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs, and thank you to Nathan for seeing fit to put this one on his blog.

This post is a must read for every aspiring writer, and has made me realize that it's okay to put the old novel and list away if neither speak of who I am now.

I also agree with other comments in that #3 and #4 are likely in your future.

Anita Saxena said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal story. You never know what life has in store you. But I truly believe it has number four in store for you.

Ainsley MacQueen said...

An image of ghostly waves of mist walking through driving rain, completely oblivious to the torrent trying to turn them from their path.

...nearly twenty years ago.

By the way, LOVED shrugging off the weight of light.

Anne-Marie said...

Beautiful piece of writing.

What keeps me going is the yearning to write, despite all the great and sometimes not so great things life throws up at me.

Prime Minister Bryan. We had one of those once, and I could even see myself voting for this one.

Leslie Garrett said...

I used to feel like a phony. Though I had published books to my credit (non-fiction, children's), I didn't think I could be a "real" writer because I hadn't suffered enough. I clearly spent too much time studying long-suffering poets/authors.
Now that I've 5) Lived and 6) Suffered I might have something more to say...but less time and energy to say it. Ah, the irony.

Kaitlyne said...

This was a beautiful post. Just beautiful.

WhiteOpal said...

Thank you Ink

That was an inspirational post and I have a few writer friends that are feeling a tad low with another rejection in the mail, so I will be forwarding this.

Life is something to be lived fully. The dark times only increase our appreciation of the good so we rise to meet those challenges head on. Experience shows us life can be even better after the dark.

Your post made me smile as it reiterated that as writers we are not alone when we sit at our desks creating our dreams.

Cheers

Shaista said...

Shall I echo everyone and say this is a beautiful piece of writing? It is, it is. And the more I live, the less words I need to write. The beauty is all in the living :)

Patrice said...

Oh my, Mr. Bryan Russell. 4) is coming your way. Right on schedule.

Steve said...

I'm getting older, and someday I won'y be here. I don't want to go without leaving something worthwhile behind.

-Steve

Other Lisa said...

Lovely post, Ink.

Me...I write in the dark times because unlike #5, I can control my writing.

JD Spikes said...

Ink, if this post is any indication, you've found your calling. You touch writers' hearts AND the Universal heart with your words - they are both visual and emotional. Thanks for sharing. Nathan scores again with a guest.

Linguista said...

Damned number 5! It gets you every time!

Great post!

Julie Henry said...

I love this.

Linnea said...

Thanks for the post. I almost packed it in last December. I'd accumulated tons of research material for a new historical novel, written the first couple of chapters and was well into my stride. Then our house burned down. Everything was lost and I was crushed. Much of my research couldn't be replaced, some of it found in hundred year old books that were no longer available. But I think we writers are a resilient bunch. I can't really say what keeps me going. My husband says I'm relentless. I prefer tenacious thank you very much.
Prime Minister? Maybe. What's your position on the HST?

Ink said...

Linnea,

If I'm Prime Sinister, I get to keep the extra HST money, right? If so, I'm for it.

And I'm sorry to hear about your home. Maybe the solace is in the words, though. And I have a deep knowledge of, um, basketball history. In case that was your topic. I hear Regency is out and 60's basketball is in. I swear I heard that. No, really.

emery said...

thank you.

Linda said...

I needed your words today. Thank you... writing gets me through life, and life gets me through writing. Peace, Linda

therese said...

Very tidy plan. :)

Mine has been 1,2,5,1,2, 2,5,1,2,1,2,5,1,2,5,2,2

It's possible I'll 1,2,4,3,4.
Of course there is more 5 on the horizon...

Lori Benton said...

I chuckled at your plan. It was so like mine. 5 interrupted me at age 30, with cancer, right when the editors began to phone. I'm back though, with a few new perspectives, hopefully more wisdom, and a lot more patience. I wasn't ready then anyway. God knew.

kdrausin said...

My life has been as messy as my high school Trapper Keeper. Writing was something I always did but never thought to pursue as a career until three years ago.

Your question-What keeps you going. I've been thinking about that. Determination and passion to have the freedom to do something I love as a career. Yes, that's it.

Beautiful post.

Rachel said...

Love it.

God and Ponytails said...

I'll be honest- often it is simply the weight of having something to say. Many days I don't want to say it- I don't even want to have something to say.

God and Ponytails said...

I'll be honest- often it is simply the weight of having something to say. Many days I don't want to say it- I don't even want to have something to say. Thanks!

G said...

Kewlness.

What keeps me going are two things:

1) prove everyone who doesn't like me wrong.

2) the enjoyment that other people that do like me or don't even know me get out of my writing on a daily/weekly basis.

annerallen said...

Stark truths. Elegantly written.

Lisa R said...

This is so beautiful and it really resonated with me on so many levels! I too had the same plan! I'm stuck on get an agent and LIFE keeps happening all around me and the dream I have of getting to the end--getting published--it comes and goes, waxes and wanes, ebbs and flows. I never expected to have a bunch of agents love my work but not want to sign me. I never expected to be in literary agent purgatory for 3 1/2 years but here I am. Meanwhile I met the love of my life, started a family, changed careers, bought a house and many, many loved ones have passed and there have been other dramas and stresses. At the end of the day it's very simple. Plan or no plan, I keep writing because it feels like breathing.

Ishta Mercurio said...

Wonderful, wonderful post. #4 is definitely coming your way.

For me, I don't feel like writing is even a choice. It's who I am, and I can't help doing it any more than I can help breathing. I write every day, be it in front of my laptop or as part of my sons' bedtime ritual.

It's the "getting published" part that sometimes feels daunting, that life gets in the way of. But the writing is always there.

Dominique said...

In a way, I feel I have 5) Life on a different list, a list all of its own with Life as the title. 1-4) are all on one list with Writing on the top. They're different plans happening at once.

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I see the stars.

I know what it's like to be hip-checked off course by unexpected loss - maybe not to the same extent, but enough to make me pause and rethink where I want to be.

Donna Hole said...

Way to go Bryan. I'm glad this one won, it was one of my favorites.

.......dhole

word verif: mushi. Well, it wasn't that mooshi, but heartwarming all the same.

Vacuum Queen said...

Ink,

I had the Same Damn List!

Including the same 1b and the teaching degree. And number 5 snuck in there just like your number 5...not colitis, but LIFE issues including a sick child and soon after, a freakin' fire.
But now I'm retreating all the way back to just plain old writing again. Some things for purpose, but many things for none at all. Just telling stories.

I'm 40 which is apparently older than a first time publisher's age, but life is good now and so I feel much younger and fresh and new.

Maybe we'll both get through our list on our own terms this time, eh?

D. G. Hudson said...

Great Post, INK. It happened to me too. Life gets in the way, but we find our way back if we want it bad enough.

mkcbunny said...

Thank you for the beautiful, affecting post.

Life gets in the way, in both good and bad ways, but living life is what informs the writing and makes us better at communicating to others.

Claude Forthomme said...

What a beautiful image, that halo of light on the snow...so full of promise...It echoes with another image I love - a famous song too - which calls for walking on the "sunny side" of the street...

Yes, writing is all about LIFE!

And congratulations for a wonderful piece of writing as I'm sure you know by now, having read all those comments! And all best luck to find a good agent (because that is what it is: a question of LUCK!)

TheUndertaker said...

What a beautiful post. You should be a writer... : )
It would possibly be better than Prime Minister of Canada, with a 'voice' like yours. I LOVE the orderly, with capitalization. I just had dreams, as young (but I now at age 9 that I was definitely going to be a writer). I am finding my way back there now, slowly. I hate for the dream to die!

Anonymous said...

I spent three years of my twenties taking care of my elderly father while he died of cancer. Somehow I also managed to start a wonderful career and marriage during that same time. Whenever things get dark, I remember holding his hands during his last hours of life, and I realize that nothing could ever be as terrible or as wonderful as that moment.

Thank you for a great post.

Shannon said...

Really nice post, Ink. Whatever path gets you to your dream is the right path, because it's your path. You're right about Life and writing being intricately connected. To consider them mutually exclusive deprives both the writing and yourself. Best of luck to you!

jongibbs said...

A mobving and thought provoking post.

Thanks for sharing :)

GhostFolk.com said...

The perfect blog post, Ink.

Basil Zyllion said...

Just what I needed to remind me what I need to do. I just had a swift kick in pants from life. But this helped me focus. Thanks Nathan, whoever you are!

Kathryn Magendie said...

This is lovely lovely lovely . . .

I could talk about how life gets in the way, how the dark sludges over the light thick and old and nasty, until . . . well until it doesn't because sometimes you just get lucky or maybe you just take some action, or both. And you think: never too late, never too late...and you alter your plans just a little bit - maybe not exactly as you thought, but kind of cool and great all the same....so, I'm smiling as I write this and that's good.

Anonymous said...

my list went something like this:
1. art/ study art /make art/ share it / make sense of life
2. fall in love / marry / have children/ a dog / a house
3. write a novel / write another novel / write write write /
4. dance and travel
5. laugh and be merry
6. dream / dream out loud


whoops, I forgot money. yikes.

7. money!!!! too! fitting in with all of the above.

Anonymous said...

I thought your post was lovely too.

Michael Pickett said...

Wow. Great post. I think I somehow got my hands on that same list when I was a kid. While getting my degree, I told people that I would need a day job until my writing career took off, but I held on to the secret wish that I would get published before graduating and never have to get a real job. Then, I graduated. No published books. No employable skills. Life is looming over me and now I'm in the process of climbing it.

L. T. Host said...

Ink, you're one of my favorite writers. Nathan, represent this man and solve #3 for him already!

I didn't know you'd been through all this... how awful.

Lynne said...

Dear Ink,
Your post is beautiful, in terms of poetic writing skill and 5)Life. How do I keep going? Life tosses slings and arrows of outrageous fortune at everyone, interspersed with Kodachrome colours. I need a crutch, all the time, to run & celebrate or weep. I know Him as the Eternal Word.
He's a writer, too.

Amy said...

Wow. This is so beautifully written you should have had a link so we could buy more of your work.

thanks for making that crazy variable called Life so poetic!

JosieJodiBaby said...

My list, started when I was 11, has disintegrated from being reread, revised and re-folded over the many years since that decision.

Life got in the way as did many health issues which, while giving me the opportunity to write full-time, has also dulled my enthusiasm for the craft. Now that I'm staring my mortality in the face (nose to nose with it, in fact), I don't seem to be able to conjur up the joy I once took in creating tales, crafting stories and committing them to posterity.

If there is one thing I encourage in my stepkids, it's to follow your dreams when you're young. Do wnat you really want to do before life's roadblocks leave you looking back at the derailments along your path and you no longer have the time to explore those branching paths.

Anna L. Walls said...

Ah - to have such a clear plan. For me, Live was first. All my plans fell through and yet life carried on. Marriage, two boys, moving to the bush. Never ever planned any of it. Suddenly, I had a computer (no internet and none in sight). Could I type? What do you know, I remembered how. Now what? Like an avalanche, suddenly (over 10 years) one story after another poured out. And now for the rest of the story.....

D.M. SOLIS said...

So many meaningful stories. Here is mine:

Spirit all but destroyed at a very young age...I hoped, prayed, and I wrote.

Larger than life, homophobic, alcoholic, violent father who cherished me...I loved him as we all did, I recognized my creativity came through him, I dreamed of a better life, and I wrote.

Immature, frustrated mum who was cruel and funny...I laughed and cried, and I wrote.

Intense jobs. 14-year marriage that wasn't meant to be with a man who was abusive...I dreamed of time to write, time to pray, time to BE...and I wrote.

Finding the love I had always longed for only to find she had a terminal illness...I prayed for healing, I hoped, I prayed for time to love my beloved, and I wrote.

Loss of my beloved life-partner...I wrote.

Out in gay in L.A., not even knowing how to BE gay...I prayed, I hoped, and I wrote.

Finding the love of my life...the dream is not a dream anymore, time to write, time to pray, and time to love my beloved one. I continue to write from years and years of stories. Little publications along the way are now turning into real collections. Oh, yes, I am writing away.

Thank you for posting. Creative "Art Spirits," do not give up. Stay compassionate, stay strong, keep writing. Peace and all good things for you in creativity and in life.

Sincerely,
Diane

rose said...

I think I have witnessed the birth of an immortal quote:

I see clean light on snow. I see it and know there’s something yet to share, to say, to write. To live.

That perfectly expresses "the yearning" that comes with those moments of perfect and painful clarity. For me, they are always associated with a certain slant and quality of light which leaves me feeling as if I have just seen truth touch down in that very spot.

Thank you.
rose

Dori said...

Thank you for your post. As cheesy as it sounds, you really moved me.

I, too, had a plan. It was neat and precise and I was ready and raring to go with it. Let's just say that plan is currently in cinders somewhere and Life has moved me in other directions.

The only constant (other than my family) has been my love of writing. You post reminded me that it's okay to get side-tracked, plans don't always work. In fact, your post reminded me of a saying I've heard, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." Guess I'm God's favorite stand-up comic.

Sharmistha said...

I have nothing ... no painful story(at least none connected to writing) to talk of. Nothing came between me and my life-long dream of writing kids apart from those that will, you know, when you've ("voluntarily") spent 5 years in the pursuit of a degree of law and suddenly one day announce to all and sundry that you want to become a "writer" of kids books (I still get funny looks when I tell people that) but I have, after a lot of circumlocution, arrived here. Don't know if I'll ever get to No. 4 but life ... yeah, we're ready for that! Now if only I could move beyond the "dream" stage ... sigh ...
Oh, by the way, almost forgot ... beautiful post! You have my vote for Canada's Prime Minister too! :) At least the government resolutions will be fun to read! :D

Sharmistha said...

I have nothing ... no painful story(at least none connected to writing) to talk of. Nothing came between me and my life-long dream of writing for kids apart from those that will, you know, when you've ("voluntarily") spent 5 years in the pursuit of a degree of law and suddenly one day announce to all and sundry that you want to become a "writer" of kids books (I still get funny looks when I tell people that) but I have, after a lot of circumlocution, arrived here. Don't know if I'll ever get to No. 4 but life ... yeah, we're ready for that! Now if only I could move beyond the "dream" stage ... sigh ...
Oh, by the way, almost forgot ... beautiful post! You have my vote for Canada's Prime Minister too! :) At least the government resolutions will be fun to read! :D

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