Thursday, July 12, 2007

What's in it for us? *

Why let go? 'Cause that's when the magic happens.

Here's an instance from the writing life:

I was writing a book called Bum Steer. I knew who the villain was, but not the motive. When I was halfway through writing it, I started to panic, because it's kind of important, in a mystery novel, to know the motive. :)

One morning I sat down to begin a new scene. I knew which character would start the scene, and I had a couple of things in mind for her to do. But suddenly, without any conscious direction from me, she started up some stairs to the second floor of the house she was in. Huh? What was this? Where was she going? And why hadn't anybody told me?

At that point, I had a choice--let her climb, or stop her and make her do what I had planned for her to do.

I let her keep going.

At the landing, she looked to her left, into a bedroom I didn't know was there. She saw a bureau, and on top of the bureau there was a framed photograph. When I saw that picture, through her eyes, I saw people I never knew existed, and suddenly, eureka!, I knew the motive. Until she walked up those stairs on her own and looked into that room, I didn't have a clue. If I hadn't let her go, I don't know if I'd have ever found out.

Don't you think that's kind of amazing?

That's the magic of letting go in writing.

Here's an instance from real life:

I had a friend, years ago, whose eldest son had vanished from their lives. Not kidnapped, but a runaway. He'd been gone for years. No contact at all, none. Not a phone call. Not a rumor. Nothing. You can imagine how she felt during those years. Well, one day after about ten years of this, she was on an airplane and she started thinking about him again. But this time, she found herself saying, "I love you, and I let you go." And, miraculously, she really did. She told me that in that moment she felt swept by peace, a deep, inner peace such as she had not felt since he left home, a greater peace than she had ever felt in her life.

He called her the next day.

True story, unique in detail, but not in spirit. Because of the book that Lynn Lott and I wrote, many people have told us their stories of letting go and What Happened Next. I could go on like this for some time, telling their stories and enthusing about the terrors and joys of letting go, but I've talked enough for one morning.

Your turn. :)

* (Fourth in a series, all this week, about "Letting Go.")


Nancy P said...

Good morning, everybody. Or, afternoon, depending on when you drop by. Welcome, all lurkers and newbies, too.

What am I doing up so early??

I think I'll go blog-hopping to see if anybody is up at other blogs in the village.

Catharine said...

Good Morning, Nancy.

That's an incredible story about the runaway son. Did they reconcile after the telephone call? That doesn't change the miracle, I'm just curious about how the story ended.

Are kids allowed to runaway now-a-days? Like playing in the street, it seems to have fallen out of fashion.

I don't have any letting-go miracles to share. (I'm still stewing over the stuff that woke me up)


Nancy P said...

G'morning to you, too, Cathy.

They did reconcile, he moved back to their home town, and they remained in touch until he died a few years ago.

You know, it seems to me you have actually told me a couple of letting go miracles in your life, kb. On a morning when you're stewing, it may be hard to remember them. I hope the stew morphs into something edible!

Catharine said...

You may be right. But, here's a letting-go tragedy:

I spent almost 2 hours yesterday morning working on a post. And I really liked it, but didn't have time to polish the end. So, I saved it and thought I'd finish it this morning.

Except, I didn't save it. I can't find it anywhere. It's gone.

I'm totally lost.

Nancy P said...

Well, that is hard, to work two hours and lose words you liked at lot.

But you're not lost! Only those words are, bless their little wandering hearts.

I lost a whole short novel once, but it stunk, so the world was spared. :)

Your day will improve.

It almost has to.

AndiF said...

Good thing my job is just to post links to photos because I've never had any experiences like that.

So here's a picture to set the mood for everybody else's stories.

Nancy P said...

Oh, Andi, that is absolutely beautiful. Our weather this morning feels like that photo looks--cool and damp.

Thank you!

Nancy P said...

Andi, I just set your photo as my wallpaper, and it's a very cool and interesting effect because widening it like that warps it just enough to give it a Tolkein effect.

Family Man said...

Good morning everyone.

I can't believe everyone is up so early and writing this morning. It might just be that I slept late though. :)

I'm off to get my first cup of coffee. I need something to get the neurons firing this morning.

Catharine said...

Hi andif & FamilyMan, Andi that's a beautiful photo. FamilyMan, I think I need more coffee too.

Nancy P said...

It *is* bustling early in the village today, Family Man. But if you call this getting up late, you're not the slacker I took you for. :) But then, your secret is naps, I believe?

olivia said...

Morning all!

Nancy ... I'm sure I checked in here a couple times yesterday and didn't see yesterday's post ... :)

Nancy P said...

It was hiding from you, Olivia. It must have been scared of those yellow jackets buzzing around you. :)

Nancy P said...

kb, are your comments supposed to be off? Or is Mercury Retrograde in your house of communication this morning? :)

olivia said...


Nancy P said...

Olivia, your "heh" gave me my first real laugh of the day, thank you very much.

Catharine said...

(Olivia, Nancy rudely slept in yesterday. But once she got that post up, things were really hopping here.)

Nancy, I've got comments off on the Affirmation, no one's ever posted to those. But, I could start turning them on if you want.

Nancy P said...

Cathy, nevermind, I see that I'm crazy. I could have sworn they were off in other diaries, too, but I just double-checked, and they're obviously not. All is well at Eat 4 Today.

GreenMinute said...

Letting Go. Might be Letting In?

The process is perhaps learning to listen? By letting go of whatever is keeping you from listening? I swear to you that there is a window inside of each of us that others may use to talk into, to come in through...

Well, I used to think of it as window. Some people keep it shut. Some people keep it open.

And sometimes it doesn't matter, the messenger is going to shatter the glass to get a message to you. This usually in times of crises, sadly.

Mothers hear children in jeopardy. (- The umbilical cord is the original "cell" phone. -) Twins hear each other all the time. Children when left to their own devices have "imaginary friends" who talk to them endlessly. And a few dead relatives.

But writers... ah. Nancy, I like to think someone is helping you. I mean it. Someone specific. Mary Shelley is watching you work, through your eyes. You let her, she'll push your protag up the stairs for you, sure.

"Good golly, she says, how can you have a mystery novel without stairs!"

Or maybe it's T.S. Eliot. Just someone on the other side looking for open windows... and words.

GreenMinute said...

I want so badly to be brief. I apologize for not managing it quite right.

I collect stories from people who have ghost experiences. It's a hobby. I call them "first person" experiences. I have used very few of them.

One I haven't used is a "listening story". I just love it.

But the person who had the experience is a well published writer and I just can't bring myself to use her experience by writing it.

I think it's a letting go story. But one in a time of crisis.

But I will tell it in conversation at the drop of hat. Here goes: next post. [It's shorter this way]

Nancy P said...

The umbilical cord is the original "cell" phone. -

I love that!

Green, as usual you look at the same thing through a different window and come up with something wonderful. Letting in. . .yes, of course! So we let go of the Off button on the Universal Cell Phone, and then the messages can come in. Ring, ring. Ring Lardner calling.

Mary Shelley. I should be so lucky. She can push my heroines down the stairs if she wants to.

Any chance of rain in Ashville today?

Nancy P said...

lol, I'm postponing hitting "referesh," because I want to enjoy the anticipation of your ghost story, Green.

GreenMinute said...

True Story. The late 1970s. Two young couples on an adventure seek out the Colorado River to go "rafting."

Teenagers. Two girls, two boys. Bikinis and swim trunks, two big innner tubes.

There they go. And go. And go and go.

The river gets very nasty. They are toppled. They are nearly crushed by water. The four of them end up on a little sand island in the middle of the river. Cliffs on both sides.

Can't return the way they came. The river is too rough to continue downstream.

The inner tubes are more a hazard, being targets of a raging surface current. So the two boys swim across the racing water and make it across to a tree-covered rise.

They go for help. The two girls, in swimsuits and nothing else, are left behind on the little sand island.

GreenMinute said...

The person who told me this story said that suddenly it was freezing. The sun was going quickly away because of the high cliffs. She had no idea it could be this cold.

They huddle, thinking the might freeze to death. Their teeth chatter. Her friend cries.

She said it felt like the middle fo december and it was getting dark. She let go. She went inside herslef, she said, out of fear.

She was not safe now.
She had done something wrong.
There was no one who could help her.

Or, wasn't there?

Her dog showed up. A yellow lab. From home. He was just there, she said, and he was showing her something. He dug furiously in the sand.

She told me she first thought he was trying to dig something out of the sand. You know, a bone, a lost scent.

Then her dog lay down in the trough he had dug. And went away.

And she knew what to do.

She, and her friend by following her example, dug troughs in the sand. They lay down in them and covered themselves with loose sand. And they were warm again.

GreenMinute said...

Oh, I must add this, because she insisted it is important: don't go rafting anywhere you feel like it.

The boys made their way to a road, but it took seemingly forever. She and her friend were later picked up by a National Parks Rescue Helicopter. They were sternly lectured on the cost and trouble the recuse had caused.

Catharine said...

greenminute, this was wonderful. It may have happened to someone else, but I think THIS is your own story.

(I didn't think anything could top what you did yesterday)

Nancy P said...

Incredible story! And also credible. Thank you!

Have you ever heard Voice in Back Seat of Car stories? Give me a moment to try to remember the second one I heard, very recently, and then I'll tell them.

Kelly McCullough said...

Good morning all, no letting go stories from my writing. I think that's probably because I don't keep that tight a grip in the parts where I'm creating. I'm organized and the book follows the outline, but the outline always has gaps where things can get in or out if they want to, like minor characters that decide they want a major speaking part. If it works, I go with it.

Nancy P said...

"gaps where things can get in or out if they want to,"

Nice. I picture lace. Or peekaboo fingers laced over eyes. Or gaps in between the boards of a log cabin, where the wind blows through.

GreenMinute said...

Voice in Back Seat of Car Story?
Nancita, it better not be a convertible. Spooky taters.

GreenMinute said...

Lace or gaps in between the boards of a log cabin...

Ever press your face against the window screen?

Kids do it all the time. Laced fingers, too. Rascals get to see more than we do.

Kelly McCullough said...

Ooh, lace is nice. I was thinking more in terms of building a skyscraper where you start with the steel skeleton (the outline) and slowly fill in the rest as you go, until the final polish is a matter of putting in the furniture and adjusting it just so. But I really like the lace.

Nancy P said...

I haven't been able to think of the more recent story yet, but here's the other one:

This is about a woman I know well. "Martha" had a miserable marriage to an abusive man. He had even held a gun to her head one night when he was drunk. But they had several children, and she had a fundamentalist religious upbringing, so she was in an agony of self-doubt about whether or not to divorce him.

One day she was driving, alone in her car, when she started to sob with despair. "I don't know what to do," she sobbed. "I don't know what to do!" She gave up. In the next instant, she heard a male voice in the back seat.

"Martha, it's time to go."

She told me the voice was as clear and real as her own voice as she spoke to me.

Perhaps because of her background, she identified "him" instantly as Jesus. Maybe it *was* Jesus. I wasn't there, so who am I to say? She felt swept by the knowledge that she was loved. She felt comfort and peace. And she knew, to her toes, that she must get a divorce as soon as possible.

She's very happy with her second husband now.

FARfetched said...

Wow. I get a late start to the blog-day, and I've got soooo much catching-up to do....

No letting-go miracles I can think of off the top of my head. I sure wish I could delegate all this work stuff to someone else at the moment though. :-P

Nancy P said...

Hi, far. Happy traveling tomorrow. How long will you be gone? We'll miss you.

FARfetched said...

Hey Nancy. I'll be gone about a week & a half. I'm taking tomorrow, all next week, & the following Monday as vacation. I'll probably get back into the blog-swing on Monday while recovering from the drive home. I'll miss you guys too!

Catharine said...

I don't know if I'll recover from being in meetings ALL DAY.

Is anyone still around?

Nancy P said...

I'm here.

What a day you've had. You deserve sweet dreams tonight.

I went refrigerator shopping with my mom. They're surprisingly reasonably priced if you don't have to have ice cubes in a dozen different shapes, or water on the door.

Catharine said...

We found the same thing when we bought our new fridge a couple of months ago.

And I don't know why we put if off so long. I love having drawers in the bottom, instead of just a big open bin. What a treat!