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!



8 responses to “The Absolutely True Secret to Success in Writing and Life

  1. This is a great post Cat. I never thought of it like that (especially for writing) and I will try to keep this in mind when I am writing. Let’s see what happens 🙂 Today is sunny and mild. Very Spring, so what will I do? Enjoy it, cherish it and not be sorry because I didn’t waste it. Have a good snow day.

  2. Love it! This has been my mantra for decades, it is the only way I can face each day filled with trials. Cherish the moments and find joy in the little things. And remember, the moments that are spent simply sitting and watching the grass grow (or the snow fall) are never wasted – those are the jewels that adorn the crown of your life.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your nuggets of wisdom for us to follow! I can only imagine how wonderful your past decades have been with such a wonderful outlook on life.

      Hugs and enjoy watching the grass grow.

  3. Daughter, my thoughts were the same but perhaps a little more blunt. WTF! But then…..the snow was beautiful. This is temporary, after all the over winter dark eyed Juncos had just left going back to their artic circle summer home, it couldn’t last, could it? 🙂 “Even this shall pass”.

    • The snow was beautiful. I actually took a picture of it. I loved the way it was so pristine–no snowplow yuck or sand and gravel to muck it up. Just fluffy, white beauty.

      Though I did talk with someone today who told the story of how her grandfather was caught planting in a blizzard on May 14. He had to let his team of horses loose to find their own way to the barn and followed the fenceline home.

      As pretty as this morning was, I’m thankful it wasn’t a full on blizzard. That probably would have encouraged an entirely different– and far more blunt–post than the one I wrote!


  4. Beautiful post! Some very lovely thoughts to think about. I’m just stopping by from the a-z challenge, but I recognize you from AQC too. 🙂

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