Thoughts About Woods and Writing

Thursday, January 13, 2022
2022 started with a bang. Or maybe it was more of a thud.

It was around three in the morning, pitch black outside, winds howling. And I know us writer types love to use that expression for colorful imagery but in this case, the winds were actually howling. Broken branches were knocking against my house and roof and now wide awake, I began to read (and pray), waiting for the worst of the storm to pass through. 

An hour or so later, I heard a thud and LOUD cracking. There is nothing quite as terrifying as that cracking sound when you live with ginormous trees all around you. But Libs was quiet, the house was intact, and I figured that a tree had fallen in the woods. 

I figured wrong. I woke up to another tree down in my yard (the thud and cracking), smashed into my fence (which I’d just repaired six months ago from the last downed tree). And I’m not going to sugar coat it, y’all. Poor Libs heard some pretty discouraging words, along with some words that decent folk shouldn’t use. The tirade ended with me yelling something to the effect of, “Enough! We’re moving!”

But as I drank my tea and gazed out my kitchen window into my yard, I began to calm down and first, realize how grateful I was that the tree had fallen into the woods and not on my house. And I looked into those woods, thinking how much I love that view every morning, in every breath-taking season. I love the trees, the river behind them, the deer that wander through them. The woods, and the wildness of my own backyard, bring joy to my life. Which, at least for today, make it worth sticking around.

My writing life came to mind, gazing out that window the next morning. Because there are times—and honestly, A LOT of times—when I hear some pretty discouraging words rumbling around in my head. When I get yet another rejection for a submission that I thought was a sure acceptance, I think maybe I’m not such a good writer after all and I should quit wasting my time and energy.

When I stand by, watching other writer friends’ accomplishments and I’m going through a terribly long dry spell, I admit that words not suitable for children tumble out of my mouth. And when I spend years coming close to selling a manuscript, only to hear, “Not for me,” again, I want to yell, “Enough! I quit!”

But then, I hear from someone—a friend or a reader here at the Muffin—telling me how much they love my writing. Or I sit down with a document in front of me, and the words sing across the page, like a glorious symphony. And I think of the words from Neil Gaiman, the quote my daughter included when she framed the covers of my first two books:

 “Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” 

Tomorrow, there may be a downed tree and busted fence in my yard, but there will also be those beautiful woods, refreshing my heart and soul. There may be another rejection in my inbox, but there may also be a note from a friend, sending encouraging words. 

And my novel-length manuscripts may continue to languish in a dusty cyber file, but when I sit down at my keyboard tonight, it might be a good writing day. And I will laugh out loud, wondering how I could ever quit something that brings me so much joy. 

So, friends, may your 2022 be filled with good writing days. And may all our trees stay upright!


Yvonne Osborne said...

I love that quote It's similar to one by Hemingway. "When the writing is bad, everything is bad." something like that.

Theresa Boedeker said...

Love this. Reminds me that everything can be a positive and a negative. The great outdoors has inspired my writing and soothed me so often.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Yvonne, I'll bet anyone who's ever lived with a writer can attest to the truth of BOTH of those quotes! :-)

And Theresa, glad you liked this one! And yep, the great outdoors can be a lifesaver!

Sioux Roslawski said...

And may WE stay upright. May we continue to be proud of being a writer, our spine straight and our shoulders back.

Andrea said...

Beautiful! You're exactly right, when I need inspiration or motivation, a good walk around my small town neighborhood among all the upright trees and gardens brings me back to my writing. Right now I'm going to build a snowman because that brings out the joy as well.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Great advice from ol' Neal.
And? Your writing never fails to inspire.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Absolutely, Sioux! And here's to a glorious and inspiring snowman, Andrea, and Sue, I feel the same way about YOUR writing. ♥

Angela Mackintosh said...

Gorgeous post, Cathy! Beautiful writing and so true. Nature can be the best balm, and all we need is a fresh perspective. I've been pelted with rejections lately, but it's not surprising since I entered a bunch of contests at the end of the year. I learn a lot from my rejections--the sting of it forces me to dig deeper into my words. It took a long time for me to get to this place! The rare acceptance is what keeps me going and those good writing days. That's a high like nothing else. You're an inspiring, funny writer with a great voice, Cath, so keep on doing you! :)

Linda O'Connell said...

The quote is spot on. I think we all go through this self doubt. I try not to linger. Nature is a balm, and sometimes it's just rest we need. Your writing rocks. So rock on, Cathy.

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