My Journey to Become a Writer 03/23/2024 Post #83

Informative Image

I’m sitting down earlier than usual to write this daily post. Maybe it’s because my brain feels like a bag of mixed metaphors. I figure I might as well get something down while my synapses are still firing.

I made a list of things to do today, and once again, the main thing is to sort through boxes.

I know this stuff is a blessing; but a lot of times it’s felt like a burden that’s left me bewildered – especially since it has taken so much time away from my writing.

This smorning (yes, I see that extra “s”; but that’s how I say it, so I might as well spell it wrong, too. I’m working on dialect while I divulge all this mundane stuff). Where was I?

Oh, yes – this morning (I’m forever editing myself), the thought struck me that writing a book is a bit like packing up a house and moving it to a new place. I was brushing my hair when that hit me, and as I worked through some tangles, I started to see the similarities. So I thought I’d sit down and write while I still had it in my head (hair and this hair-brained mess of words).

How Moving is Like Writing a Manuscript

In my particular situation, my parents had been accumulating things for forty-eight years. In the last few years of her life my mom wasn’t able to maintain order like she had in her younger days. My dad heard about a three-year-cruise and decided he wanted to downsize drastically – from a three-story-house to a ship cabin and maybe a storage unit.

Last summer was a flurry of stuffing stuff into boxes and taking truckloads elsewhere. There was little time for decision making. Emptying the house was the goal. Items long forgotten were rediscovered as piles of belongings were pulled from closets. I’d pick my way through the halls, absolutely overwhelmed by the chaos; but determined to get the job done.

That leg of the moving journey reminds me of life when I made the firm decision to sit down and write way back in 2019, just after my uncle had died.

I placed myself in front of somebody else’s keyboard (since I didn’t even have a computer of my own) and just started dumping words into emails that I then sent to myself. There was no set order – if a thought came to my head I typed it as fast as my fingers would allow for, jumping from one subject to the next. One memory peeled back another to another to another. It was a mess; but I needed my brain emptied of all that data and putting it into something printable was a big help.

As my parents’ house was getting swept clean last summer, multiple trips were made to a storage unit where stuff was once again unloaded and then stacked super high – there was some grouping; but the goal to get it all shoved into a set space was the main objective. Some things couldn’t fit on the truck so they had to be left behind.

This reminds me of writing a first draft. Some things just won’t fit. You push and shove and rearrange with heavy things on the bottom, light things on the top, trying not to damage what’s in between. There are decisions about what goes where and will you really use it. Questions of: Is this mine to tell? Or does it belong to somebody else? Is this worth anything? Will it sell? Is it just trash?

It took me quite a while to find an actual place to move (I’d been intending to move into a converted cargo trailer), and by that time my dad knew that his cruise had been cancelled, so we were faced with furnishing two dwelling places.

Opening up those storage units (sigh. yes. there was more than one) felt pretty traumatic to me. Facing loading and unloading a truck again was way overwhelming – not to mention thinking about the organization process. When I finally did, I ended up sick in bed for two weeks. My body had been weak all year, and too much work made my heart skip and pound. All that exertion was more than I could handle.

To me, this is somewhat similar to the first rewrite process. You’ve done something big – but now it’s time to do it again. To face all that stuff, unbox it, dust if off, and decide where to set it, or if it doesn’t belong at all. Maybe the donate pile – or better yet (cover your ears environmentalists) the burn barrel. And if you’re writing a memoir, well, most likely you’ve suffered from a broken heart in some way. I have been thinking a lot about the verse from Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” – that really resonates with me.

"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life." 
- Proverbs 13:12

How ironic that my book is called, "About Trees"...

I’ve rewritten this draft about five times now. It’s still got too many words to “fit” according to agents, so I’ve got to go through it again.

People keep wondering when I will be done – I don’t seem to be able to articulate how hard it is to face the process again.

I’ve heard again and again, “Just do a little at a time”, and I’ve heard the same advice about the boxes in the attic and all those leftovers still in storage.

I don’t want to sound like a whiner; but at some point the human body, brain and heart just have to have a break, or they break.

I’ve learned that the hard way.

On a similar note, there are still a lot of boxes in the attic and garage to go through – not to mention a storage unit that has yet to be emptied. I’ve been doing my best to group things together that I’ve got here; but since my heart is still skipping beats, I’ve had to move slow. When I do get the nerve to go over to the storage unit, I seriously just want to curl up in a ball and not have to look or think or move another box. My heart doesn’t just skip beats then – it sinks.

And that’s how I feel about this manuscript. I’ve got to face it again, and it feels so big. But maybe the parallel struggle between moving and writing is the story I need to be writing now. Perhaps that tension is the topic that needs addressing. Somehow that helps.

I know that even once everything is over here, and I’ve put items in the rooms that make the most sense to me, there will be the task of organizing drawers and closets, putting them in a sensible order, and finally giving everything a good polish and shine.

That’s sort of like the finishing touches of a book to me. You get it all spruced up, fluff the proverbial pillows, flop out the Welcome mat, and invite people in to your pages, hoping they will enjoy them and be blessed by the hard work you’ve put in.

Well, I’d better quit blabbing about all that, finish this post and face those boxes, so I can get both goals accomplished.

A verse I copied down this morning is from Psalms 116:7, which says:

"Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee."

The rest of that chapter is encouraging, too. You can read it by clicking here.

I know it will help my outlook to see all those boxes and unboxed words as bounty instead of burdens. That’s about all I’ve got to say on that subject today, so…

What Did I Accomplish Today to Be a Writer?

I did Day 83 of the 100 Words a Day Writing Challenge 2024 through LA Writer’s Lab.

And I said all this.

Thanks for reading what I’m writing,

Jody Susan

I’d preformatted this post, so when I searched on my website’s dashboard for #83, this post from More On My Mom also happened to come up. It gives me some perspective on what I’m facing today compared to last Spring… and it made me laugh out loud. My mom was an unintentionally funny lady.

I always told her she looked like Mrs. Claus to me in that first photo. I don’t think she felt flattered.


I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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