I won’t waste my time
pushing a river uphill
when I can sail it.
This poem is linked up to Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads’ Tuesday Platform and Poets United's Poetry Pantry 441.
Liner Notes for this Groove:
Sometimes I am sure that my corgi, Kit, thinks that his leash is so I don’t get lost following him around. I thought my first corgi, Faye, was stubborn, but Kit is an exemplar of the stubbornness corgis are legendary for. You see corgis can be prone to chubbiness without enough exercise. This was never a problem for Faye, who was happy to race around her usual path as fast as her stumpy legs could carry her. Kit however prefers to meander instead of race, picking out paths for reasons only known to himself. He will not walk if it is too late and he has already settled himself into one of his dog beds for the evening (he has one on each floor of the house). He loathes walking when it gets above 80, but adores snow and the cold.
So recently, I attempted to walk him when the snow from the most recent storm had mostly melted. Predictably, Kit was mopey, even though there was a chill in the air. At one point on the walk he found a patch of snow large enough to accommodate a pudgy corgi and refused to move.
Now I know this pattern. I could beg. I could tug on his leash. If I had more upper body strength I could even pick him up and move him back to the sidewalk or grass. He’d only go back to the snow pile, or find another one like it, and refuse to move until he had felt he had sufficiently indulged in it. I’d only prolong the walk if I tried rushing him before he was ready. So I gave him what he wanted. I won’t say he cheerfully gave up his beloved patch of snow, but when enough time passed (and I wasn’t tugging the leash), he got up and trotted home.
I have to admit, I’m not too dissimilar to my dog when it comes to writing sometimes. I finally had an idea for a story. I (thought I) was ready to start and outline. And I stared at my screen…
And played suduko…
And scrolled through Facebook…
I discussed the issue with my writing buddy who suggested I just try word vomiting what I wanted to do with this new story. Don’t commit to anything as formal as an outline or a summary. Just play with throwing some sentences around, put it aside for a few days and revisit it.
Now this I liked! With no pressure to produce a perfect outline, or even a coherent plot I just drank some tea and jotted down ideas that started off a little all over the place, but ended up looking like a chapter by chapter break down. I went over it with my writing buddy and we poked the thing with sticks to see what wiggled with potential life and what lay there. It was now much easier to pull together an outline and a couple of character profiles from what I had.
In the book I am reading now, Hideyoshi and Rikyu by Nogami Yaeko, there is a passage about the way Oda Nobunaga would reward his warriors. “When Nobunaga was in power the warriors who served him had wanted to receive rare and prestigious tea utensils that had been imported from China as a reward for their brilliant achievements in war…The warriors felt deep chagrin if Nobunaga gave them a castle instead.” Sometimes to achieve things, you gotta go with what motivates you. Kit will get a full walk in if I let him have his break time in a pile of snow. And I can start a new novel if I let myself play with ideas and fall in love with writing characters first. Otherwise, I’ll end up wasting my time scrolling through social media (ooh… corgi video!)
So dear Groovers, have you ever relied on some off-beat ways to get you more motivated to tackle a big task? Tell me all about it in the comments section, or just catch me up on what's doing with you this week. And as always if you have a cyberhome where you'd like to take the conversation a little deeper, talk to me about it in the comments and add your link there.
Song Choice: My Life by Billy Joel
Ah, he is so adorable — I love how you used this analogy for the creative work. Also, sailing sounds better any day over pushing what cannot be pushed.ReplyDelete
LOL, the trouble is, he knows he's adorable!Delete
We do spoil him a lot. He's a rescue and I think we're all trying to make up for whatever his past was. And goodness knows he takes advantage of it.
You have a CORGI?!? Who are you, Queen Elizabeth? LOLReplyDelete
I hide my crown in my hair. :DDelete
He is absolutely precious, Rommy!!❤️ I find that the more I push myself and plunge into a difficult task, the more I surprise myself with the performance. We just have to believe in ourselves. Persistence is key.ReplyDelete
I shall pass on your compliments to Kit in the form of a thorough belly rub.Delete
Love the image of pushing a river uphill... when writing gets like that, I switch to netflix till the muse decides to behave again :)ReplyDelete
I've gotten sucked into several shows there. LOL, I blame my daughter.Delete
Lol....tea implements rather than a castle? Picky! Cracked me up.ReplyDelete
I laughed out loud when I read that. Also, was there an option to have both? Because that would be my choice! :DDelete
I love the idea of poking a story draft with sticks to see what wiggles. Brilliant! Love this whole piece Rommy, and love your dog!ReplyDelete
We'll see if I can get the wiggly bits up and moving together! Thanks Carrie.Delete
Our 2 dogs rule our home. Its so funny how we adjust to make them more comfortable. Kit is too precious and I love that he gets attached to patches of snow. Love your analogies!!ReplyDelete
Kit is king around here. He comes into the office with my husband and I (it's dog friendly) and gets spoiled with belly rubs and treats too.Delete
New novel! Yay!ReplyDelete
I'm nervous, but excited too!Delete
A river uphill, that's even more Sisyphean than a boulder...ReplyDelete
If I have a big task ahead I think there is nothing better than a deadline up ahead...
A deadline is a pretty good motivator for me too.Delete
Well, Rommy, your dog might be a starting place. My dog Adi, before she died, and I were a "Pet Therapy Pair." Perfect for my moto, do what suits you and procrastinate what doesn't. Try that.ReplyDelete
Your Adi sounds like the sweetest girl! Kit is a cuddle bug, and some days I think he'd make a good therapy dog as he loves people and is especially patient with children. LOL, but he can be a such a stubborn boy too.Delete
Kit's expression seems to be saying, "Try me human. My stubborness will outlast you." LOL. He's a cutie.ReplyDelete
"We know how this will end, mom. I'm just going to find another snow pile and we'll wait again until I am happily cold enough. Listen to a podcast and I'll get up in a minute."Delete
I loved the beginning senryu; it pulled me. Cool how understanding your corgi (not pushing and straining but waiting for the right time to go home) results in an epiphany that not pushing writing against a writer's block but helping writing to go where it wants to go both result in movement toward the goal (home/chapters). Enjoyed reading this.ReplyDelete
Sometimes he's a good teacher. And sometimes he's just a silly pup. But he's my silly pup. :)Delete
I also prefer to sail - and I love your dog!ReplyDelete
Sometimes it's just the smart thing to do. :D I'll pass on a belly rub to Kit for you too.Delete
Your corgi is so cute! Now I miss having a dog...*sigh*ReplyDelete
Anyway, here's my answer to your question: https://www.khayaronkainen.fi/wild-things/
I could only go a few months after Faye passed away before I needed a dog in my life. Same with the rest of my family, and then we saw a corgi in a rescue needed a good home, and the rest was history.Delete
I love the seemingly simple wisdom of your poem bit. I never understand why people waste so much energy and time trying to do things that just don't work. Why grapple when we can dance, right?ReplyDelete
When it comes to writing, things work so much easier when we let them flow (as) naturally (as possible). I'm not saying let's sit around and wait for the muse to be magically inspired. But forcing ourselves to follow a schedule/plan that doesn't speak to us is the fastest path to, well... staring at screens.
Here is my contribution for this week:
Exactly so! The idea isn't to dodge the work, but find the proverbial spoonful of sugar to get us going. For me, it was just giving myself permission to be imperfect and play a little. For samurai during the warring states period of Japan, it was tea tools over castles. I'd be pretty motivated over legendary tea-ware too. :DDelete
that's cool, Rommy ~ReplyDelete
Laying in the snow makes Kit one very well chilled and cool pup! Thanks for stopping by. :)Delete
For me it’s about reminders and encouragement from my friends. Having someone to politely hold you accountable can help achieve your goals and projects. Sometimes it’s just about the “word vomit.” Lol I wrote a small piece about time as I’m sitting here waiting on someone else to do their job. I am here. www.photoclark.comReplyDelete
LOL, I think one of the biggest surprises for me was learning how social writing can be, in that having people who both cheer for you and hold you accountable are important. I'm thankful I have a good writing buddy who is ready with a sharp stick for poking at unruly masses of words. :DDelete
"If I get everything finished on Friday, I won't have to come into town on Monday." YESSS!ReplyDelete
Sounds like the start of a promising pajama day!Delete
Perfect. A poetic motto to hang on the wall!ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed it!Delete
Definitely - better to sail a river than to push one! What a sweet dog, and fun to read about how he is attached to his snow patch. Mine, on the other hand, are excited about getting into the house as quickly as possible in this kind of weather.ReplyDelete
LOL, some dogs are summer dogs. Mine is decidedly a winter dog.Delete
Enjoying this again in the Pantry. I love Kit, and enjoyed reading about your approach to the new novel. Natalie Goldberg uses that method too. Quite freeing.ReplyDelete
Anything that frees the words up to flow is a good thing.Delete
Kit and I share motivational traits--cooler is better for walkies. :) Also, sleep is just...better. I tend to motivate myself by traditional writer methods: coffee and the concrete picnic tables of our local park (and colored pens).ReplyDelete
Sleep is always a lovely thing. I should like very much to be enjoying its company now, but I will go to my reliable old lover, tea, which is also a great motivator. :DDelete
Loved the poem and, once again, very much enjoyed your narrative. As regards your question: on motivation for big tasks I, pretty much push off as follows:ReplyDelete
1. set a deadline
2. look for the aesthetic in it (if there is one to be found)
3. reward myself … the most effective strategy ~ ha ~
Dang it! My reply must have gotten eaten in the power outages. LOL, I am pro-reward, Especially if the reward includes tea.Delete
I love this post! Kit is so cute! So true, you got to go, with what motivates you! Big Hugs!ReplyDelete
He is my adorable little hell beastie and I tell him so every day.Delete
pushing a river uphillReplyDelete
when I can sail it.
How wise it is, Rommy! Somewhat like not wanting to reinvent the wheel, which is a waste of efforts and talents.
Sometimes we do have to push through, but if there is a more efficient way to accomplish something, why not utilize it? Thanks for stopping by!Delete
If only more of could control of our own lives and do what we want to, we sure would be happier. (Mind you breaking the law may mean having a smaller bedroon!)ReplyDelete
Yes, but think of the privacy! :DDelete
practical with a sense of humor :)ReplyDelete
LOL, I try :)Delete
LOVE your poem. It shall become my new adage. I can't think of any great stories about tackling a difficult task, but I confirm that I am much in favour of finding an easy way, LOL.ReplyDelete
Aw, thanks! LOL. I try not to let easy be my enemy, but woo it into being an ally for my goals. :DDelete