I think I overslept today. Last night before bed I moved the clock forward for Daylight Savings Time ... but somehow it didn't take. (It's a digital clock with a complicated set of buttons.) Even though we slept and woke at the same time we have for months, we woke an hour late.
For weeks now, I've noticed the light. Or I should say, how the light is shifting ... mostly how light fills the kitchen at the end of the day as the days get longer.
It catches me by surprise and my timing is off. I'm accustomed to starting dinner when it gets dark. So dinner's been late lately ... because I think it's earlier than it is.
I've been watching the light. Looking for the light.
In the daylight and in the world around me ... especially in these confusing, dark times ... for the people in Ukraine ... for all of us.
It's not easy, but as a friend said to me, we have to continue to look for the light. We do.
There's light in the birdsong just before dawn, in brisk walks when the sun is at its highest, in the long shadows of the afternoon, in the honking of the geese that flew overhead yesterday afternoon, in sunsets out the back window, and in the moonlight that makes a snow-covered field look like sparkle snow in a storefront window.
It may be fleeting, but if we look, really look, we'll find it. We must.
Where can you find the light?
As I experiment with combining collage and story, I occasionally (who's kidding, I OFTEN) find myself frustrated and ready to give up.
I’m so accustomed to editing my words and designs on the computer where I can hit the delete key or use a combination of keys to undo what I've done. When I work with my hands that's not possible and I am, at times, derailed by a layout or word that doesn’t match what I had in my mind’s eye.
Like running out of space at the bottom of this heron piece.
I wanted to add more but there was no room. Seeing that I wasted so much space at the top I was frustrated and wanted to fix it. But there's no key for that, not when you're working with paper, glue, and ink.
I'd gone too far to start over, so I had to work with what was there.
When that happens, I take a deep breath and know this will pass. When I see it again, long after the fretting is done, I know it will look different.
So I go with it …and all the imperfections. Accepting them as part of the process. And in doing that, I also see things that work.
I recognize that because I stayed with it, I’ve got something to show for my time and effort. A record of an event along with some collage and writing practice, too.
So yes, this heron was chill. The otters were swirling and rolling, diving and chattering and the heron didn’t seem to notice them. Or maybe it did but didn’t want to attract any attention.
So be like the heron.
Stay with your writing and your storytelling. Yes, it can be discouraging. But starting and keeping at it is where you'll make progress. Where you'll see glimmers of where you're going. Where it IS working.
You'll see things you didn't see when you were just thinking about writing. It's in the doing and the writing where you'll make progress. And mistakes. But keep going.
One story at a time.
Is it worth it?
Have you ever gotten to the point where you're nearly finished with something, almost done, and you get an idea to change or improve that thing?
But it means more work. Maybe a delay.
That's what happened to me with my nearly finished book, Things I Notice When I Walk The Dog. A short-story memoir of walking my dog Agatha. The collage work is done, the text is complete, and I've got it set-up in page spreads in book form.
And then ...
I wondered if it wouldn't be better if I hand-lettered the text. Mind you it's a picture book so it's not terribly long, not a novel ... but still.
So I tested the idea and did some hand-lettering on the text, and guess what?
There's no way I can go back. I have to letter the entire text.
So what's the big deal?
Each sentence takes about half an hour to write. And that's only if I don't make any mistakes, or decide I don't like the look of that letter ... or this one ... or the entire sentence.
Or, if like in the example above, I'm so caught up in what I'm writing, I drop a letter like I did with the "l" in sidewalk.
And then there's the whole idea of perfection. Because even though I like the feel of the hand-lettering, it's not perfect and that generates a bit of anxiety for me.
Is it good enough?
Yes it is. The whole point of hand-lettering the text is that it's not perfect, that it adds a level of imperfection that's more inviting.
At least that's what I'm hoping people will see and feel.
What do you think?
Today is Extra Mile Day and it occurred to me that's what I'm doing with the book. Even thought it's my choice, it means I've added another level of work to the project. But I'm committed.
I'm going the extra mile.
Sometimes it's a good idea, other times not so much. Is there something you're doing or thinking about that means going the extra mile?
Did we go too far? This is where we sat to catch our breath after hiking up a steep trail this morning. Where the two arrows meet is where the flat rock ends and the trail drops.
It's also the spot where I started to wonder if we'd gotten ourselves into a bad position. Well, that's not entirely true. I had wondered earlier if we might want to call it quits and turn back. We both did. Even asked one another, "Should we stop?"
No, let's keep going.
Despite the fact that each step meant we had to hoist ourselves up over rocks and bare roots, it was exhilarating to be out in the woods. When we reached the bare rock we wondered again about turning back.
We carried on.
With each step, albeit steep, we had solid footing.
And for both of us, there was something about the challenge that made it too compelling to turn around, to quit.
But here we were facing the downhill climb.
I'm no thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail, but have done enough hiking to know, it's always easier going up.
I was worried about going down.
But once again, we watched our footing, took our time, and looked ahead to find the right path on the trail.
Maybe that's the secret. Measured steps even when we're skittish. To keep pushing, even if it's hard.
Because even though it was worth it to push through our fear to reach the top and take in the big view, we also got to hear the high wind rustle just the tallest branches on the trees, the footfall of what we think was deer in the ravine, and the reward of knowing we did it.
Is there a time you pushed yourself to continue even though you were frightened or uncertain? Would you do it again?
Write about it ... and share it. With me or a friend, or both. I bet it's good.
The Story Line blog is where we share short story memoirs, writing tips, and more.