Monday, July 9, 2007

A Week of Letting Go


Sometimes I think the world might be well served if human beings were born with the words, "Let Go" tattooed on the backs of our hands. There are other places it might come in handy, as well:

Gravestone: Let Go.

Marriage: Do you, Clyde, take this woman and let go of her?
Do you, Jane, promise to love, honor, and let go of him?

Sex: Let go.

Birth: Let go.

Graduation speech: "Let go."

And, of course, writing fiction: Let go!

A few years ago, I wrote a book, THE SEVEN STEPS ON THE WRITER'S PATH, with the psychologist, Lynn Lott. Our Step 5 was "Letting Go," and that's going to be my overall theme this week, because this is going to be a week of writing in which I really need to let go, let go, let go. Of my characters, so they'll emerge as they really are; of my story, so it will flow down the rocks and over the rills where it naturally runs, of my sentence-by-sentence writing so it (I hope) snaps, crackles, and pops.

Sometimes I do this silly thing where a few times a day I think of the words, "Let Go," and I let go of whatever is in my hand. If I'm holding a glass of water, I set it down and let go of it for a moment. If I'm grasping a steering wheel, I loosen my grip slightly. If I'm not holding anything, I check to see if my jaw is tight, which it almost always is, so I relax it. It's just a physical way of making a point to myself--let go. Let go of running any part of my adult child's life, let go of running my mother's life which she has quite effectively managed on her own for 91 years, let go of running my life which can actually run itself pretty well, and let go of whatever I'm writing, like this piece. I'm going to let go of it now and go get some coffee. There's time later this week to talk about the miracles that can happen when a person lets go, and how to create a peculiar and wonderful space for them.

G'day, Mates. What's up with you?

28 comments:

Catharine said...

Let go of blogs and go to work??

No, I don't think that's what you meant.

I let go of intellectualism today with the puzzle I posted at the E4T Lounge. It's just a silly word search, but I think it might be fun.

I think blogging really requires letting go. Isn't that what we do when we hit the "Post" or "Publish your comment" button?

Nancy P said...

Hey, catherine/katiebird, good morning. And, yeah, you're right, "letting go" is exactly what we do when we hit Post or Publish. Of course, there's always "Edit". . .

I've added a feature to the bottom of the blog--a quote for the day, although if I get lazy, it could turn out to be a quote for the week, month, eon. . .

Nancy P said...

On second thought, letting go of blogs could be part of it, sometimes, for some people. Not us, of course. :)

Family Man said...

Good morning Nancy.

I've thought about it and I left go very often. You can't be a consummate slacker if you don't.

Hope you have a good day.

Family Man said...

That should have been let go. :)

olivia said...

Morning all ... kansas, I have that book, and it has a prominent spot on my night table ... :) I 'let it go' too, often throughout the day. Sometimes I worry that I 'let it go' too much -- is there such a thing? When does it become the opposite extreme.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Howdy folks, and great mantra for the day, Nancy. I should probably be doing that more myself, so thanks for the reminder! Good luck on the writing this week ... just let it flow (or was that go?) and see where you end up.

BTW, I'm very fond of the 'edit' button myself... I often need it!

Nancy P said...

Olivia, I know, especially when it comes to kids, or my career. . .I worry, too, that I let go too much. And then I have to let go of that worry!! lol.

Family Man, you are my very Model of the Perfect Letter-Goer. :)

Nancy P said...

For me, "letting go" has a very real physical feel to it. I feel it across my chest and down my arms, kind of like I might feel if I'd been hoisting a very large, heavy cardobard box, and then set it down. I'd still feel the "imprint" of it.

I'm aware this is slightly weird. :) But I do feel that, and then I make myself keep feeling it, and then after a while that makes it easier to let go of some worry, or whatever. I blame this process on a zen friend of mine who, whenever I was upset about something, would tediously (grin) intone, "Sit with it for a while, and see how it feels in your body."

Nancy P said...

"cardobard"?

Must be a playing card with a picture of Shakespeare on it.

Kelly McCullough said...

Let go? Hmm, interesting--my inner control freak clings to the ceiling all the harder at the very idea--maybe I should try that. And yeah, FM is the king of letting go in my book as well.

FARfetched said...

Sometimes, when letting go of the writing really works, it feels more like you're transcribing, or even taking dictation, than actually writing. That doesn't happen often enough to suit me.

In the rest of my life, letting myself relax is often difficult. Lord knows I've lost count of the times I've been driving down the road, or just sitting in a chair, and realized I was all tensed up — and had no clue why. At least I don't clench my jaw like I used to. In the end, I aspire to FamilyMan's level of slackerhood — although like other forms of perfection, us mere mortals simply have to do the imperfect best we can. :-D

You might at times see a bumper sticker: "Let go/Let God." It's how a lot of Christians express this thought… and a lot of us need the reminder more often!

GreenMinute said...

I don't know. The apple let go of the tree and look what happened.

AndiF said...

I generally have no problem letting go of the big stuff but I am a the world's worst terrier when it comes to small things. I'd like to say knowing that about myself means I can work on changing my ways but the thing is I much more like to say that I'm a stubborn bugger.

Man Eegee said...

Good morning (at least in my time zone) - I need to let go of anger and irritation. Our work building was burglarized/vandalized this weekend; I could spit nails. They caught two of the perps (17yo kids) but we were notified that they were released this morning. Rarrrrr.

Okay, off to go work on letting out the fury.

Nancy P said...

greenminute, welcome, and. . .lol!

Yeah, but the apple tree prospered and the apple got eaten by a horse who got ridden by a girl who grew up to. . .

Okay, not so good for the apple.

Nancy P said...

farfetched. . .transcribing. . .yeah. That's the best. The only good kind of "dictator."

Nancy P said...

IVG. . .you're welcome!

Kelly, has it occured to you that your inner control freak just might be a fly?

andif. . .if Jim read that, I bet he'd smile.

Manny, maybe you'd better spit those nails. They can't possibly be good for your teeth. :)

AndiF said...

Sssh -- Jim isn't supposed to find out. I've been keeping it a secret from him for over 35 years.

Nancy P said...

andi--snort.

Family Man said...

Last year Andi told me about zen coan. The question was.

Can one work at being a successful slacker?

My answer.

To obtain enlightenment, one must merely be. I am slackdom, so I embrace my inner self. Therefore, doubling my efforts to be myself is obtainable by doing nothing.

In other words, you're either born lazy or you're not. Some of us have it and some don't. :)

Nancy P said...

family man, you're a natural, lol!

I just walked down by the creek behind our condo. Jeez louise! It's up to the top of the (high) bank and rushing like Colorado whitewater. Only definitely not white. Scariest creek I've ever seen. Not that we have to worry--it would have to rise a looong way to reach us. I hope that's not what they said in Oklahoma. :)

FARfetched said...

@greenminute: "I don't know. The apple let go of the tree and look what happened."

Um... Newton postulated gravity? Ah, good point. It's been all downhill since.

Sally said...

This group is way way too clever for me. Perhaps because of the blinders I've glued to the sides of my head, trying to relate every blog nugget to a stuck writing project. Letting go...hmmmm....do you mean I don't have total control over this character? Is the character--shame on her!--trying to wrest free of my key tapping to take on the world beyond my carefully crafted words? But if she did, where would she go? What would she do? Could I catch up? Might I have to throw out...excuse me, let go...of some lovely words or chapter? I wrote an outline, for Pete's sake! (Pete is also in the book.) Letting go. Hmmmm.....

GreenMinute said...

Lol, farfetched. Yes, Newton (but don't forget Eve). I summer among old apple trees. When one drops, especially into the creek, it drives the dogs crazy.

So far the dog, who is smarter than the other one, has suggested that altitude can be accurately measured on a gaduated scale of change in air pressure, which may or may not, accelerate the fall of an apple as it comes nearer to earth. But I am holding out for inertia as the cause of any incease in velocity and that the same scale can be applied at any altitude without variance.

But, you know, try convincing a dog.

She stubbornly disagrees and we are waiting yet for another apple to let go, so she can say "see, I told you." Of course, she'll use that laughing bark of hers.

In the end, dogs are usually right about these things.

P.S. The dog adores you, btw. Something about the word "fetch" and "far".

GreenMinute said...

Sally, I keep thinking of that line about if it loves you it will come back. I've forgotten now if "it" is a bird or a butterfly. But it seems to have something, too, to do with letting go of outlines.

For me, and I am a horrible example, the characters' letting go of the outline is when the good stuff happens. For others, writing a book is more like finishing a beautfiul quilt... or a tapestry... I wish I could do that.

Nancy P said...

Sally and green, I do like this conversation about what happens after letting go, in this case of characters. As it happens, I know Sally in RL and this weekend she suggested to me a route into a frozen place in my novel. It necessitated letting go of my main character. When that happened, it loosened the reins on almost everybody, requiring some rewriting that was the kind of rewriting that's rewarding to do. There's one character, though, a child, who hasn't needed that, so apparently he's the only one to whom I managed to give free rein from the start.

Green, since you seem to be good at dog translation :), I'll tell you about a novel I'm reading. It's odd and funny. The title is "The Thin Place," and the author is Kathryn Davis. I mention it because it has some scenes from a dog's pov and the way she does it is very amusing and believable, and not too cute.

Nancy P said...

also, green. . .

"if it loves you, it will come back. . ."

There's a line in the I Ching like that, a bit of advice about waiting for something lost to return, because if it "belongs" to you (me, whomever)it will come back on its own. The Ching sternly advises against running after it. :)

The Ching doesn't mention love in that case, but I think that's an interesting way to look at it.