Beginnings and Endings and Round Again

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Today I have beginnings and endings on my mind. Endings, because as of tomorrow, Yahoo! Contributor Network, the place where I’ve written now for three years, is no more. My pieces–along with everyone else’s–will vanish from the internet, hardly leaving a ripple in their wake.

And beginnings because, on Tuesday night, a friend of mine had a baby girl, her second. Her name is Isabel, and she arrived into this world weighing more than eight pounds.

It’s the way of the world, isn’t it? Around us, everywhere, things are starting and finishing, winding up and winding down. You can pick out a person passing by on the sidewalk, any person, and in his or her life, there are any given number of things somewhere along the path.

Maybe it’s because we have them built into our very essence that they resonate around us. Every day has the beginning of a sunrise; every day the ending of a sunset. It’s the rhythm of life, the balance of the universe.

Just the way that beginnings, eventually, lead to endings, endings can give way to beginnings, in that infinity circle. We’ll see where this ending takes me, but right now, I prefer to think of Isabel’s beginning, still sparkling fresh and sweetly bright.

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When Writing’s Not a Rainbow Made of Angels Singing Puppies

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It’s funny how far the beginning can feel from the end. When I sat down to write this post, all I could think about was being this side of the 200 words or so I needed to write. And when I’d managed, when I got to the things like categories, tagging and a headline, I’d be on the other side of the words.

From here to there, with a few strokes of a keyboard.

Of course, anyone who’s ever stared a blinking cursor in the eye knows it’s not really that easy. It’s not as though you open a spigot and out pour the words, though on the rare occasions when that does happen, it’s like a rainbow made of angels singing puppies.

But the reality is there’s only one way from this side to the other. You’ve got to put your head down–only don’t do this literally, it makes it tough to see and even tougher to type–and let your fingers do the writing. Easier said than done, right?

It’s like looking down when you’re at a great height. Or so I’m led to believe. I’m very rarely at a height great enough to check that advice. But metaphorically, it’s the same thing. Don’t measure the distance.

Just take the ride.

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Treat Every Unwanted Task Like a Trip to the Dentist

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Yesterday, I had to go to the dentist, something I, like millions of others, do not enjoy doing. Actually, who does enjoy going to the dentist? Seriously. Even when your dental professionals are awesome people, as mine are. Whoever you are, dental appointment enjoyers, there might be something wrong with you.

Anyway, it was one of those things. No matter how much I talked to myself about how I didn’t want to go, it didn’t matter. I was going.

It got me thinking. Why not apply that attitude to other things in life that we just don’t want to do? I mean the ones that need to be done, not the ones like jumping out of planes, which only needs to be done under very limited, self-evident, circumstances. Those tasks that nag at us, or frighten us, or we simply don’t want to bother with, but need doing.

Like most people, when faced with something I’d rather not be doing, tiny voices assure me that it’s fine, I’ll do it later. And later. And later, until later subtly shifts over to that sneaky category of “never.”

But what if it becomes non-negotiable? In the case of my dental appointment, I didn’t want to wast the time of the hygienist who would be seeing me. I didn’t want to be charged for the appointment I’d confirmed. And I knew on a basic level that I needed to go.

It’s easy to lose accountability when the accountability is to yourself, and yet that’s the let-down that does you the most harm.

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Could Summer Fade Already?

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This morning, I swear I could smell fall in the air. It’s still July, but it was there, that cool morning crispness, that edge that evokes apples and cinnamon. It doesn’t matter that I’m surrounded by the peaks of summer fruits, by the peaches and the nectarines and the berries and the cherries. The gorgeous cherries, some black, some bright red, some speckled.

No, it was a hint of what will be coming, soon. The bright green of the leaves in the park will take on a glow, and then pale, and then head toward their yellows and oranges. Full, fervent greens don’t last long, not here in Chicago where the city settles into the cold as easily as zipping up a down coat.

It’s hard not to think of what comes next, even when you’re right in the middle of what comes now, right in the middle of sunshine(ish) and warm air and flowers. It’s hard not to think of the wind that will cut, that will shake the brittle leaves from the trees, will send them scuttling underfoot.

Right now it’s summer. But summers come and go, autumns come and go, and winters arrive. Until it’s spring, and round we go again.

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Even Writing Has its Laundry

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Well, my reprieve has ended, the drilling is back. It’s not overwhelming, not by any means, but I’d like to have the silence. The silence was nice (Well, unless you’re the Doctor, but that’s something else all together).

Now I have to return to thinking around the drilling, which can be done, of course. Just not quite as pleasantly.

Today will be filled with mindless tasks, anyway, the laundry of writing, not the writing itself. It’s amazing how much of that there is, the endless stuff around what you actually want to be doing that needs attention, again and again. There isn’t a job around that doesn’t have its laundry, the things that, no matter how often you do them, come around to having to be done once more.

So it’s fine if a portion of my brain is dealing with the distant sound of a drill bit biting through concrete, it’s no bigger than the portion that will actually deal with my Thursday tasks. Maybe that’s the problem with laundry.

Not intellectual enough.

What I’d really like to do today is grab my Kindle and head outside to read, take in the air and sunshine, and forget all about laundry, the writing kind or otherwise. But that’s the thing with laundry.

If you don’t do it, it piles up.

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Savoring the Flavor of Silence

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It’s an absolutely gorgeous day, and to make it all the better, it seems that they’re not doing work on the building, I suspect, because of the wind. The platform fights against its tethers where they’ve left it anchored, and the flag looks nearly ironed.

It’s probably not safe to be dangling on the side of a building today.

I’d nearly forgotten what the silence sounds like. Or the sort-of silence, I live in the city, so there’s always a background hum of traffic or helicopters, punctuated now and then with the shriek of a siren. But today’s been, so far, remarkably peaceful.

I don’t know that I’ve ever appreciated it, a long stretch of quiet. It’s something I took for granted before the sounds of hammering and drilling through concrete became so familiar, they started to fade to levels that I could almost ignore.

Sometimes it’s good to just stop and take note. Note what you hear and what you don’t hear. What it feels like to sit with a welcome silence. What it feels like to sit with a silence too empty. To know that there are as many flavors of silence as there are of ice-cream, with some every bit as delightful.

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Editing is the CPR of Writing

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I finished another round of edits yesterday, picking my way through the manuscript and hitting the end. And this time, it’s finally starting to feel like a book.

Phew.

It happens every time. I go back and see what I’ve put down during the writing phase, and sometimes, it seems like it falls apart in my hands, this bit and that bit and that one. But slowly, pass by pass, it finally starts to take shape until it’s something.

I’m not done, not by any means, but with this run through, I got to the point where I could see it, gleaming below the surface, the whole thing. It’s like sculpting, I imagine, with the way some people describe it as seeing what is already in the stone.

But until that happens, the nagging doubt dominates. Was it a waste of time? Were they pointless, all those hours of fingers flying over keyboard, all that time staring out of the window and seeing nothing but what should come next?

For the first time since writing that final sentence, I’m hoping maybe not. Writing gives you the raw material, but it’s the editing that gives the material life.

Need something to read? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) .

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