She Pictured It Long Before I Did


It was a month ago I learned I was invited to spend 18 days as a writer-in-residence at Ragdale. March 2, my mom’s birthday, and of course a birthday present from her from wherever she is, watching after me still.

I loved every minute of those 18 days, and I can’t wait to return. Of course, I love my family and home, too. But re-entry is very difficult, and it’s probably worth a seminar during a Ragdale stay in order to prepare one for it. 

In the three weeks I spent at Ragdale, I napped once. I never watched television. I only read my colleagues writings, the NY times and other literary publications. I stayed up late reading and writing. I woke up early, anxious to do it all over again.

I was originally teased when I arrived at Ragdale because I was so tentative about saying “I’m a writer.” Should there be any doubt, that apprehension is thoroughly washed away now. Not because I’m writing more since I’ve left Ragdale. But because I miss the environment created solely to stoke one’s creativity. Sure, at home I can ready our place to move, paint, clean out closets, shine the wooden cabinets in the kitchen, and then find some time to write. But it’s not the same. Nonetheless, I. Am. A. Writer. And write, I will.

If I learned anything at Ragdale, I learned how important it is for writers to take their craft seriously whether or not others do. To put dedicated time aside to put words on paper and know we’re creating magic in doing so, as painful as the process is. Because we really do look at blank pages. Writers start and then restart. Swear we’ll write 1500 words without editing a single one until we’re done, then go back and spend a full week editing each of those 1500 words until they sing the story we’re appointed to share. 

Writing is hard work. The odds of getting rich from it unlikely. But that’s not the point. I can no more not write than I can not breathe. I find My truth in writing. I learn more about myself in writing than in anything else I do. Writing is as much a part of my life as are my children and grandchildren. 

Perhaps the biggest lesson from Ragdale is to prove it. Find the time to write. The world did not fall off its axis while I was away writing. What makes me think it will if I’m home writing? Whatever was in my head that had me thinking that way has had its day. I’m a writer now, and I’m going to take the time to create the words that fight to get out every day―when I’m home or in the car or just about ready to doze off.  I’m simply not going to go to sleep at night without giving time to the craft that fuels me.

Theodore Roosevelt understood the concept:  “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…. Hunter Thompson was no less brilliant: “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”

And if Shirley Stone were around, she’d add to those thoughts with words she used long before any sports equipment company’s advertising agency made them famous: “Just do it!” she’d be saying, and probably has been all along. And only as she can, she found a way to make sure I start listening to her again.

That’s mom’s for you, or at least what I’ve learned about what it means to be a mom: they never stop looking for ways to help you achieve your dreams, whether they’re sitting next to you or finding ways to remind you even after they’ve slipped those surly bonds. 

I’m on it, Mom. Thanks for the reminder. 

2 thoughts on “She Pictured It Long Before I Did

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