“Stop fighting the current of your life and struggling to be somewhere else. You are exactly where you need to be. This is your (writing) life. There is no other like it.”
Sage Cohen, The Productive Writer
Our family is transitioning — which is a less painful way to say we will soon be empty-nesters. Well, not exactly “empty”. We are nudging the last of our four offspring out of the nest and on down the road to college. Hopefully, he’ll come back for a couple of summers, but, like his three older brothers, he’s stretching his wings and ready to fly. Compared to just 10 years ago, it will be darn quiet and lonely around Springfield Farm in a couple of weeks.
Sometimes, I’m a weepy mess when I think about this. But, most of the time, I’m determined to take Sage Cohen’s advice and prepare to “seize the day.” I’m gearing up to do something I’ve waited a good 20 years to do — focus on writing. I’ve spent the past four weeks working through an online course offered by Writers Digest University called “The Productive Writer.” With Sage Cohen’s book by the same name as my guide, I’ve been completing assignments designed to organize my writing life, develop my “platform” and help me become more productive. Cohen’s little book is packed with wonderful plans and ideas, and I’m excited to put them into practice.
One nugget from the course that applies to many areas of my life is this: I have all the tools I need to do what I want to do. I just need to do it. I can either shrink back in fear, or move forward. In my writing life, I can take Cohen’s advice to “be a professional, not a perfectionist,” which means I need to WRITE and not worry about whether everyone who reads what I write will like it. They won’t.
In my personal life, that same fear could hold me back from embracing where I find myself today. I’ve worked many years to help my kids along to the place where they can make their own way in the world. Now that they’ve reached that goal, I can either celebrate our mutual independence, or I can decide to be lonely. I choose to believe I’m exactly where I need to be, and so are they.
In this summer of transition, my husband, son and I have found a safe place to land for a little family bonding time — A&E Channel’s reality show Duck Dynasty. As proud owners of seasons 1, 2 and 3, we’re anxiously anticipating the opening of Duck Season 4 in our house this week.
You DD fans know that mixed in with the pranks, sarcasm and silliness of their Louisiana life, there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from the bearded, grace-saying Robertsons and their kin. Here are a few that have stuck with me from DD marathon nights:
- A little good-natured teasing is another way to say “I love you.” (I used to have a problem with this — ask my family.)
- If you want to succeed, you’ve got to take risks.
- Never forget where you came from.
- Slow down, step back and get some perspective.
- Some things are worth waiting for.
- It’s not easy being a parent. (“It’s a delicate balance” — Willie Robertson)
- Take pride in everything you do.
- Parents don’t always have to be the ones giving good advice. When communication lines are down, it’s okay to let Louisiana hillbillies teach a few valuable life lessons to someone we love.
When I was homeschooling, I learned about “Mother Culture” — creating an environment for yourself that is designed to enrich your personal life. This works for everyone, not just moms. Part of the plan is to read a wide range of books at the same time. Sage Cohen gives similar advice in The Productive Writer. This summer, in addition to Cohen’s book, I’m reading a fictional work by Lisa Wingate entitled Tending Roses, the exciting memoir Surviving the Island of Grace by Lesley Leyland Fields, and Faith and Doubt by John Ortberg.
I’ve enjoyed all four books, but found Ortberg’s work to be the most challenging and inspiring. According to this best-selling author and pastor, “the very nature of faith requires the presence of uncertainty.” Recounting his own periods of doubt, Ortberg looks at how Christians can reconcile themselves with the fact they will, at times, have questions about what they believe. I found his style very engaging and the arguments he offers to be theologically sound.
Everyone needs a little culture in their lives. Putting these four books alongside Duck Dynasty, I think I’ve got it covered.
What are you reading this summer?