A parable of perseverance

5. Long way to go smallThree years ago I embarked on a project. At the time it looked nearly impossible, and even now I am not finished.

But I will be.

Until that point, my participation in yard work was limited to pulling a few weeds from the flower garden. Then one day, I decided someone needed to clear the brush along the fence, which had been steadily encroaching. This decision was prompted by my looking upward and seeing a mare’s nest of cat brier, honeysuckle, and assorted other creeping vines weighing down a tree that surely hadn’t been there a few years earlier.

The “tree” was privet, grown to a size several times higher than the hedge it was meant to be. So I tackled the prickly ball of vine first, feeling triumphant when  finally manged to clear it away. Then I tackled the ivy. Jim had his doubts. but seeing that I wasn’t giving up, bought me some nifty tools — I’m sure they have proper names, but I called them my choppers and cutters. And eventually, a saw. The original privet tree was felled, along with dozens of others of varying sizes. I wasn’t afraid to tackle a 20-foot tree and cut it into a size that the city leaf and limb truck would willingly pick up.

I pulled English ivy and poison ivy with equal alacrity (I now know the difference and what ointments work best on the latter).

It took three years because I could work only for an hour or two at a time. Some days I cleared as much as three feet, others only a small patch if the vines and other growth were particularly obnoxious.

I kept at it because I had a vision of what the lawn could look like once all the trash had been removed. As I said, I am almost there. One little corner is left.

I’m telling this story for a reason. I’ve heard many would-be writers daunted before they start at the idea of actually writing a book.

If you are one of them here is a plan:IMG_1534

  1. Have a vision of where you want to be. Don’t worry about how long it will take. I didn’t know it would take me three years to reach my goal and if I had I might never have begun.
  2. Break the job off into manageable sections. Don’t sit down and say “I am going to write a book.” Tell yourself you are going to write a chapter, or a page or a paragraph. Then do it.
  3. When the job proves to be harder than you thought it would be, keep going. That tough patch will eventually be conquered and the the rest will seem easy by comparison.
  4. Keep your goal in mind. Have a vision of writing “The End.” Triumphantly.
  5. And most of all, don’t give up.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. CristineGzr
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 07:06:21

    A very good analogy. I often think of gardening metaphors, when I consider a project, whether it’s writing or DIY projects. One year, a few years back, I made a mulch path and it took me several months, like you, I chipped away at it, one hour or three, or ten minutes… Now, it’s grown over a bit but it doesn’t stress me out because I know what it takes to bring it back. I also remember how good it felt out in the sun, the smell of the soil. Writing is the same. I used to be depressed at only writing a few hundred words in a day and not the 3000 I know I am capable of accomplishing. Now, I can weigh my priorities and understand the few hundred are still progress and when I’m kinder to the writer the words are kinder to me.


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