What Went Right

We’re pushing into the end of the year, which is a great time to assess what’s what, our writing lives included.

Take this blog, for example. Last week, I looked at what went wrong. Today, I consider what went right.

At nearly a year old, I can report that a few things came together well: I had a plan that was based on a good idea of what I wanted, and why. I also had great tech and editorial support, and I found the hours to work. This is all good, but in addition to these basics, I received some gifts—three things I never expected, which helped me out and taught me a lot.


When I sit down to write a post, I think about what I’m trying to say and if I’ve achieved it. I’m not thinking of how it will play. So when something catches fire, it comes as a shock and it’s a chance to learn. What’s this? Was a particular theme involved? A tone? A story? Was it the one about the kiss, or one of the China posts? Was it the one about crashing a party through the alley? Keeping secrets? Creating illusion? When something flares, I learn and will use this information as I plan my next year.  


I was unprepared for the spam. I visualize it as nasty robots tossing trash around cyber ground, and it turns out that’s exactly right. My garbage came largely from the Netherlands and Russia. It was only after I seized control of my mailbox that I could hear my real readers. Their remarks and questions held an honesty, even vulnerability, which I admired. I was grateful for the real deal. I took it as a gift, and of course, I always answer.


No matter what I write, I aim for clarity, illumination.  It’s a direction, not a destination.  When it comes to an art form, there is no final destination. There is only where you’re headed, your thumb stuck out and a pleasant look plastered on your face. And once in a while, if you’re lucky, someone stops and gives you a ride. That’s luck on top of luck, the bedrock being that you’re on the road at all, pointed in a well defined and chosen direction.

So, in this mini-series, as we wind up the year, my tally is that five things went wrong and three things came as gifts. All learning moments, but there’s still more. Next week, we look at what else came, the smaller packages, the penny candy.

Photo credits: both images: Stockvault.net

How is Information Acquired?

Tiny Grinnell College, 1,500 students, Iowa, has a tradition called 100 days, so named for the fact that it occurs one hundred days before graduation. It’s a party, held this past year in the Elks’ hall, where seniors gather for the express purpose of kissing someone they’d meant to approach these past 7 ½ semesters but never found the moment or the courage. Hundred Days is a chance—a last chance, really—to settle infatuations, correct missed opportunities, right some wrongs.

There are no guidelines for navigating the crowded hall, and so it starts out awkwardly enough, but it soon loosens. With the lights low, drinks flowing, temperatures rising, the scene mixes: no judgment, no consequences. From across the room, someone flashes a little smile, shrugs a shoulder. Wanna? It goes from here. First one, then two—and for some, thirty kisses that night. Worries of mono and hygiene drop from the conversation.

By the time the night is over, a student’s world has twisted inside out. What was kept private—a crush, a heartthrob—is now exposed, your secrets spilled along with everyone else’s. There is so much to consider. Who kissed whom? Who kissed me?! Who declined a kiss and who invited an advance?

Did you see those two in the corner going on? And what’s up with that guy who came around three times?

Under such conditions, you’re soon up to your knees in new facts to consider. Illumination is conceivable, even probable, and with so little effort required on your part.

Just stand there, with a willing attitude, an open mind and a smiling face, and it will come right up and kiss you.

Thanks to Sandy Chizinsky, who told me this story.
Photo credit: lips, Maria Kaloudi, legs, Gabriella Fabbri, both with stock.xchng