Daily Archives: May 1, 2013

The Absolutely True Secret to Success in Writing and Life

This morning I awoke to a blanket of white. Snow on May 1st. May Day. You know, the day we’re supposed to bounce around the neighborhood bearing little baskets of goodies for those we love?

And it’s snowing.

My first reaction was, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?”

Then I looked closer. Fat flakes drifted to the ground, covering the grass but not the hardscape. It’s beautiful. Even for May 1st. And it got me thinking. Too often, I–we–let that initial rush of emotion make the statement for my day.

So, I put on my writer’s cap and asked, “What if?”

What if today was the last snow I would ever see?

That made me feel better until I realized “what if” isn’t really good enough. It implies that the only important thing is the event and not the person in the middle of the event. It is passive and emotionless. It’s boring in the sense that every moment of our lives is a what if.

It isn’t the “what if” that’s important. It’s the “what will.” The “if then.”

If today is the last snow I will ever see, then…

  • I will grab a cup of coffee and sit on the front step, watching the flakes cling to the tree branches, creating beautiful ice sculptures.
  • I will put on my boots and run in the yard, lobbing tiny snowballs at my little boys.
  • I will stand in the middle of the sidewalk, stretch my arms to my sides and catch snowflakes on my tongue.
  • I will revel in the feel of melting snow on my cheeks.
  • I will live.

It isn’t what happens that matters. It’s what we do.

This is absolutely true in writing and in life. If our characters–if we–sit around waiting for the next what if, all we have is a series of events strung together by a common character. If they act–if they live–then our stories can move forward in a satisfying way. And so can our lives.

That said, I’ve got a cup of coffee and a snowfall waiting for me. What about you?

Curious minds want to know!