Tag Archives: Walking on Water

Shel Silverstein Dies and Writing

The thunder echoes outside, and my thoughts overflow with ideas. Where to begin, where to begin?

Shel Silverstein died today at the age of 66 from a heart attack. You probably remember some of his books of poetry, A Light in the Attic, or Where the Sidewalk Ends, with the silly illustrations. I remember them from second grade, and reading about the man with two heads, complaining that when ‘I want tea, he has to pee.’ The best children’s writers seem to be a little out there.

Speaking of writing, what do you think of the piece I wrote for the Table Tent in yesterday’s pondering? I had a lot of fun writing that. This weekend I read another small chunk of L’Engle’s Walking on Water (nope, I’m not done yet), and what stood out to me was how we are losing the ability to equate work with play. When kids play, they play hard. They play intently. They’re actually doing work. How come we can’t work like that? Well, while writing that piece, I worked. And I had a blast. L’Engle also talked about how writing is tough and you really have to work at it sometimes. She said that so many books out there are just rough drafts. Well, I usually settle for rough drafts, but I raked this thing over with a fine tooth comb and tweaked everything to make it sound right. It’s certainly not perfect, but it’s a lot better than the way it was. It just makes you feel good to refine something like that.

So who are you? What do other people see you as? Mary Ellen Ashcroft spoke in chapel today, and part of what she talked about was how we categorize people. He’s a jock, she’s a prep, he’s a nerd, she’s a punk, he’s conservative, she’s just out there, he’s a Calvinist, she’s a feminist, etc. How unloving is that? Do we like to be put in a neat little box like that. I certainly don’t. So why do we do it to others? And I’m certainly guilty of this too. We shouldn’t dismiss people and categorize them based on one aspect of their life. People are unique, and we should take the time to get to know them better, rather that just stick them in some category. I’ve noticed that the people I know the best I can’t categorize. They don’t fit in any category. I have a silly notion that’s true with everybody.

Write Even When You Don’t Want To

The other day I was reading some more in Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water, (one of these days I’ll actually finish it) and she was talking about the writing process. She said that sometimes you just have to write no matter how you feel. Whether you’re inspired to or not. Because if you don’t write because you don’t feel like it, you won’t accomplish much. It’s a lot like prayer. You have to go ahead and pray whether you feel like it or not.

I found that really encouraging, mainly because I’ve seen the truth of it. Look at these ponderings. I started this back in December, and I’m still going strong. It’s not that I want a pat on the back or anything, I’m just marveling at how much I’ve written, whether I wanted to or not. Some days you don’t know what to write, and you just have to sit down and do it. The volumes of ponderings (all archived for your convenience) are proof of what happens when you write no matter how you feel. Some days it turned out pretty crappy. But I like to think that some days I touched upon something.

I find this encouraging as a writer. Even tonight, I didn’t really know what to say when I sat down. But something comes out, and that’s what it’s about.