Blow It All

A friend of mine the other day offhandedly mentioned that she was "planning to write children's books," someday. "When are you going to start?" I asked her, not really meaning to be a jerk and put her on the spot but to give her that friendly kick in the pants I often need myself.

She told me her awful story of a crazy ex destroying her only manuscript a few years back, secretly tossing it in a dumpster somewhere and how discouraging that was and all, and I sympathized. "But... still..." I prodded. "When are you going to start?"

She knew I was right. And later she even emailed me this, one of her favorite poems, by one of her favorite poets, Shel Silverstein:

All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' In The Sun,
Talkin' 'Bout The Things
They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done...
But Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All Ran Away And Hid
From One Little

A great poem, even without the wonderful illustration I'm sure accompanied it in the book.

And it reminded me of another passage, one I ran across in an old email message the other day. It's an excerpt from the book "The Sheltering Sky" by Paul Bowles. I think it's important to remember, no matter where you are in your journey:

Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.

I don't have any words of wisdom like that. All I've got is what I told my friend. She said nothing she comes up with lately seems worth pursuing, or else it's promising but only as part of a huge gallery series or some grand something that never seems to come together. I emailed back:

My only advice would be to stop, if this is what you're doing, saving up your good ideas. Get 'em out now, while you're interested in them, and don't wait for them to blossom into world-changing whatevers. Trust that these great ideas of yours, the ones that seem so precious and hard-won, will be swiftly replaced in your head no sooner than you've expended them.

And I truly believe that.


penelope said...

Right on. I know both the "Do it now" and "use all your goodies up" tricks very well. :)

meg said...

It's easy to get caught up in the saving things up business if you don't use your creativity on a regular basis (spoken from personal experience) and realize that it's replenish able.

Another soulful post.

Sharon said...

its the little ripples that make the waves guys, good and bad....I love to make the good ripples!