Today is a day to remember those who died in military service. Though my dad survived a tour in Korea and two in Vietnam, his life ended three years ago, the result of bile duct cancer. We all miss his quiet presence in our lives.
My sister, who has been going through the paperwork in our parents’ house, discovered a stash of documents. They reveal much about my dad, who never talked about his years of service.
This first is a commendation note:
The second, a letter he had to write to the family of one of his soldiers, must have been painful to compose. As I read it, I pictured him struggling with words.
My sister is sending the letter to his family, for those who may not have seen this. I was so grateful to have my dad in my life all the years after his final tour, and I am thinking of Leo’s family, who had to carry on in his absence.
We cabin camped on the Blue Ridge Parkway last weekend, the fog settling in all around us. Though we often felt drenched by the moisture, the dense feel to the woods provided inspiration for writing.
I’ve joked about how I can’t concentrate on anything. I start working on a poem, suddenly deciding to look up something online, only to discover an hour has passed and I’m reading about a totally different topic. I decide to enjoy the flowers in the backyard and five minutes later remember I need to start the laundry. I skim. I get bored. I submit a piece of writing way before its time. I make mistakes.
Yesterday I started a new class in pastels at LibertyTown. I could barely wait for instruction, wanting instead to start smear the colors all over the paper.
This morning, I worked on one line of a poem, but then remembered I wanted re-write the last paragraph of my short story, then interrupted myself to change the submission guidelines for our new literary magazine, zipped off an email to a friend, ate part of my breakfast at 6 a.m., finishing it at 8:40, and then realized I hadn’t focused on one thing I’d try to do today.
Sigh. I sometimes blame the internet for contributing to this need for speed. But I’m not so sure I haven’t always been this way. I remember as a child looking out the window instead of listening to the teacher. When I took yoga, I found myself so impatient during the last five minutes when we were supposed to relax and lie still, that my mind kept saying, “Get on with it!”
The one time I lose myself is when I am at the beach. Hmmm, maybe I need to move.
I know being fearless and taking risks often moves us to a new place. I appreciate that. But I’m also thinking about this essay a friend sent today, and this post as it relates to my writing. Or lack thereof.
My aunt took aim, pointed the BB gun at the squirrel perched on her favorite feeder, and pulled the trigger. The squirrel looked up as if to say, WTF, and then fell straight down, landing on the mossy bed of pine needles and dried leaves.
“Jenny, help,” she shouted, waving the gun in the air.
“Shit,” I whispered.
“You hit him,” I said, peering out the screen door.
“I know. I know, I didn’t know.”
Lucy had been taking aim at squirrels stealing her bird food for 40 years. At most, she’d zinged the end of a feeder. One day she notched the pine tree by the bird bath.
But she’d never hit one before.
We were instructed to write something new for our last short fiction class. I thought I had it–basing my scene on an incident, using a 14-year-old’s voice. But I’m not sure I can “be” 14 again, so it was a struggle. However, I submitted last night, and I’m looking forward to our last class together this week. I’ve learned so much.
Speaking of submissions, I’d heard if a writer gets one submission for 100 rejections, she’s doing well. So I’d say to have earned these seven submissions for my 75 rejections is pretty good.
Brevity Poetry Review,
Haunted Waters Press,
Dead Mule School of Southern Literature,
The Nearest Poem Anthology
As I used to say when running, onward.