Simplicity, Complexity, My Life

Literature Blogs 

This past week I heard a sermon on spiritual disciplines. One of the suggested spiritual disciplines was simplicity. (Oh, ouchie, ouchie, ouchie. <– Picture me dancing barefoot along a line of red-hot coals.)

However did my life become so complicated? There was a time, driving three states away to my first teaching job, when I’d packed all my earthly possessions into my little Pinto.  Today, my husband and I agree that the only reason we don’t get divorced is the threat that whoever files for it, has to take all the stuff we’ve accumulated over 30+ years. (Well… maybe that’s not the ONLY reason, but whatever works.)

So how does all this relate to writing? The whole point of the simplicity section of the sermon was that with simplicity comes focus. (Oh, ouchie, ouchie, ouchie.) Simplicity is more than just throwing out that second lawn mower in the garage which no longer works. It is more than letting go of a time-sucking commitment. It is more than being able to work on eight different manuscripts “at the same time.”  It is a lifestyle.


A writing acquaintance posted on a listserv how she’s finished writing and publishing 500 manuscripts. Yeah and congratulations — seriously.

I wonder, though, if I were to die tomorrow (or today), which of my “500” unpublished manuscripts will ever catch anyone’s eye and make an impact?  (BTW, I have published about 150 magazine and newspaper articles, and have received positive reader comments. So perhaps it’s possible that I can make mini-impacts.)

A poll has shown that in every income bracket, people want to be on the average, 20% richer than they are. If they get 20% richer than they were, they may be happy for a while, but it is short-lived, as they then want to be 20% richer. I can relate that to publication, too. I will always want to be 20% more published.

Paul Goble was once asked at a library presentation I attended, what was the favorite of all his books. His answer: “Always the one I’m working on.” Brilliant. Simple. Focus.

Now… to go shred more of those checks from the 1980’s. Not to worry. I’ll throw them into my compost pile, then spread the further broken down checks around my flowers and veggies, then let their nourishment float up through the plant roots. Then I’ll eat them! Sounds complicatedly simple, right?

(Maybe I just need more sleep.)

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