Walk the Walk

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

Robert Frost, The Sound of Trees

Nearly four weeks into my #52ShortStories challenge, I’m at the stage where the luster is losing its new-car gleam. I seem to have more hard days than easy days in the short week I’ve given myself to complete each story.

I think this is normal. I’m still failing like I have in the past, only faster. One has to make a lot of whiffs to hit a baseball before one can consistently make contact. And then one has to make a lot of contact before one can consistently send the ball where one wants it to go. And then…

There’s one sure thing about failure: it speaks to the fact that you’re making an attempt. And if you’re not attempting something, you’re doing nothing.

They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.

Talk is cheap, as the cliché goes.

In his book Time Warrior, Steve Chandler highlights this concept in the most important way:

“Your children will learn more from who you are being than from what you are saying.”

I’m going to be brutally honest with myself here. As I look over my blog, I’ve talked a lot. In the name of learning I’ve given a lot of advice. Perhaps that part of it is OK. Based on traffic stats, a few people appear to get something from my half-finished analysis of Techniques of the Selling Writer. When I expound on a subject I’m attempting to learn, I try to acknowledge up front that I know nothing and I’m doing it primarily to teach myself. But still, there is a hint of smugness there that makes me cringe. I think we’re all a little arrogant in our youth, though. I certainly consider myself in the youth of my writing career. Not that a little arrogance isn’t needed in any professional endeavor.

But I did what I’ve always done – read about something, then read about the next something. Constantly saying to myself, “Yup, that sounds like a good idea! Maybe I should try that someday.”

On some level, finishing a short story a week not only builds the habit of finishing stories, but of finishing other things. It builds a ‘reservoir of will’ to stop talking and take action.

In many ways, I want to be like the narrator at the end of Robert’s poem:

I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.

-Phillip

[Image courtesy of Chris_Parfitt on Flickr]

6 thoughts on “Walk the Walk”

  1. “There’s one sure thing about failure: it speaks to the fact that you’re making an attempt.”—Very, very true. I like to think it’s the number of failures that determine our success, not the wins. For if we’ve failed but keep going, we’re more likely to have the determination needed to eventually succeed.

    Or maybe we’re just being foolish. ?

    1. Haha, that’s what I always seem to tell myself after every failure. 🙂 I’m thinking determine and foolish often go hand-in-hand, but I guess you don’t know how it’s all going to end up until you actually do it.

  2. I admire your goal with the 52 stories project, even though it’s not something I’d ever tackle. I could see conceiving 52 stories in a year, but writing them? Too much can go wrong, through no fault of yours.

    That’s why I don’t think “failure” is quite the word I’d use. Like when I practice a jazz solo on guitar, if I make a mistake or don’t remember a lick or two, it’s a step in the learning process. That I can deal with!

    1. Heh, thanks Kevin. I’m hoping Mr. Bradbury is correcting in assuming I won’t write 52 bad stories in a row. I guess it’s the classic “throw it all at the wall and see what sticks,” but with the benefit of a tight timeline forcing me to put my creative focus in the right place. They may not be good stories, but I already feel better having written them. I’ll take that over my previous lack of output any day!

  3. Hey, just wanted to say that though I don’t read every blog post, I do feel encouraged each time I see that you have posted another blog post. Sounds like you are learning and moving forward. Keep it up.

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