Monday, 11 April 2016
Today, by Deborah Jenkins
My neighbour brings tulips wrapped in tissue paper. I arrange the tight yellow cones in water and put them in the middle of the dining table, thinking how much prettier they'd look on the new one we're saving for. Except this new dining set doesn't really exist any more. Several times the saving has been aborted, as new more necessary projects have raised their heads - uni expenses, a wedding, a second car so my husband could visit his mum after her stroke. I've had many plans for it in the meantime, including painting it, sanding it, buying new chairs for it,even throwing it out completely But I've kept it in the hope that one day, the new table and chairs will come.
Every morning, a glimpse of the tulips fills me with pleasure. Such a small thing has brought me so much. The bigger thing - the table - hasn't even entered my head since that first occasion. In fact if anything, the old fashioned table and mismatched chairs make the flowers more beautiful. This morning, while I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, I admire the elegant stems, the wide leaves, the lemon coloured fists unclenching in sunshine, and I feel a stab of pure joy.
As writers we are goal oriented. We have to be. Otherwise the book would never get written. Heads down, we hammer away on our keyboards, muttering like psychopaths. When we stop to make coffee or hang out the washing, we run through scenarios in our heads ("What if Daisy's mum were an alcoholic? Would that work?") We live mainly in other worlds. Sometimes we catch ourselves drifting off when with others. The conversation has triggered an idea for Chapter 3. I wonder, could I disguise it enough so Penny/Dave/the husband wouldn't notice? If I keep my face very still, I can even plan this now while nodding in all the right places. But if we're not careful we'll miss the little things - an intimation from a friend, the way the birds are singing, clean squares of sunshine, the feel of my hands whizzing across the keyboard - the kind of thing I might miss one day if for some reason I can't type any more.
Your WIP is like my old table - it's been in your head a long time. You've had plans for it which have evolved, rejigged, extended and reduced it. There's that time when you nearly shelved it completely. But for some reason, annoyingly, you can't bring yourself to get rid of it, because you hope, you believe, that one day a new version of it will arrive. Beautiful, resplendent with a shiny new cover.
But don't forget God's gifts to you along the way - birdsong, biscuits, freshly brewed coffee, flowers, clouds in the shape of whales, the small things He uses to sustain us.
Because today is all we have really...
"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:34, The Message
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Deborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, text books, devotional notes and short stories. She has completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and is currently working on a full length novel. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, who are now grown up, she lives in south-west London with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver.