Saturday, May 17, 2008

Keep Balance

A writer told me today that novelist Walker Percy kept on his desk a sign that said: Wait.

Another similar piece of wisdom received second-hand this afternoon: Be Cool. A much-published novelist offered this as advice to a younger writer startled to find himself suddenly in demand and needing to make choices.

I have a bias toward hastiness. I find it hard to refrain from a quick decision, quick action. Especially if I think I have a fish on the line who might be tempted to get away.

It's hard to wait and hard to be cool. Especially when the fate of one's novel is involved.

Still it's good advice: to let a decision rest overnight, to wait a bit and reread before sending out work that has just been revised.

In any event, it's valuable to remember: boldness does not mean rushing into action too soon.

I know a boy who, when thanking his family members during his bar mitzvah, told the congregation he had learned "chillness" from his older brother.

I'm almost sixty and in the last few years, I've learned some chillness, though not a whole lot. I do have a few strategies for moments when rashness beckons:

*leave the location
*get away from computer and phone
*get physical exercise
*talk to somebody calm
*do a routine brainless chore like weeding
*tell whoever is pushing me that I'll get back tomorrow
, even when I'm the one who is pushing me.

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