On Patience

I have discovered that over the years I have developed patience. I can sit for the required amount of time to unknot a chain on a necklace or go line-by-line through a story, essay or novel chapter to provide the needed commas, semicolons, dashes or periods. I am also capable of sorting through a drawer and separating out the safety pins from the paper clips. Who knew I would ever need that skill?

I believe that my writing has taught me patience, not just in the actual time it takes to produce and edit a piece, but also in the plans for publication – or not – of that work. The truth is that time has taught me not to always expect that something I consider exceptional will be the right fit for those who have the power to publish and with that knowledge comes a shift in expectation. I no longer expect to publish a novel or essay or short story that will make me famous; I only expect to continue to write to the best of my ability and hope that someone somewhere enjoys the end product. Ah, but this could be perceived as resignation, yes?

I supposed it is true that I have resigned myself to the improbability that my work will suddenly catapult my name to the top of the writing world and I will become one of those few famous writers. Of course, I still nurse a secret hope deep-down that I will produce something so real, true and exceptional that I will find myself unexpectedly rewarded for my efforts. So, I wouldn’t call that total resignation.

I suppose instead I would describe my current state of mind as a shift away from product and toward process. After all, when I unknot a twisted necklace, I don’t expect to suddenly be the star of a reality show called “The Greatest Unknotters,” or when I spend two hours line-editing someone else’s piece of fiction or nonfiction, I don’t presume that I will be featured in next month’s edition of “World’s Best Editors.” I simply do what needs to be done by focusing on the task at hand. I am not looking for fame or fortune or even recognition. I simply see that the safety pins have somehow gotten mixed up the paper clips and I tease them out of the clump, one by one.

That is my relationship with my writing at present. I simply see that something needs to be written and I sit down and do my job. No big fanfare announcing my beginning, middle or end. Just me and either my computer or pen and paper coupled with an idea for a story or an essay.

Patience is a great asset in life. It keeps the demons of restlessness at bay and instead nurtures staying in the here and now with no expectation for the future. Well, maybe a little expectation. That the necklace will unknot; the fiction/nonfiction will read better; the safety pins and paper clips will be separated; and that stories and essays will be written, not necessarily perfectly, but well enough to produce a satisfied sigh.



5 thoughts on “On Patience”

  1. Aw, Len, you’ve done it again — said all the things I’ve been needing to hear about expectations and the real joy of writing is about producing the best work you possibly can and hope that someday somewhere someone will read it who needs to hear your words. “Shift away from product and toward process” — yes, yes, yes. No use my quoting every line — you wrote the darned thing — so just thank you, dear teacher. One of your posts launched my blog; this one will keep me moving on. Bless you. Big hug, mamacita. You continue to nurture and guide me.


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