a little on the pricey side but when I saw it in the store I couldn’t stop staring at it. It is long and has many shimmery silver strands (say that ten times fast!) that are connected together and when they fall into place around my neck and drape down my chest, it looks like a waterfall of silver. I simply had to have it.
I wore it one day to an event and haphazardly took it off
that night leaving it in a heap on my bedside table. A few days later, I picked it up and it was a tangled mess with all of those strands knotted together. I thought if I shook it a little bit that the knots would right themselves and it would be fine, but I only made it worse. I tried to untangle the strands by pulling one strand out at a time but as I did that, a new knot would form somewhere else. After a few minutes of unsuccessfully trying to fix the necklace, and feeling mix of intense frustration and anger, I gave up. I was mad at myself for not only for buying a necklace that I couldn’t afford in the first place, but that I had ruined it after only one day. I left the necklace on my dresser and have been staring at it for a week. Or rather, it has been staring at me reminding me that I am a failure.
Each day, I’d pick it up and try to fix it but the frustration would get the best of me and I would put it down once again. Why was this so hard to figure out? And, how could some strands of silver make me so damn angry?
This morning as I was cleaning my room and putting away laundry I saw the necklace laying there and thought that this thing wasn’t going to get the best of me. I began to work each knot one by one and started
to feel good about the progress I was making. Slowly, the strands were untangling and I felt like I could actually fix it this time. Then, I realized that I had gone from having just four strands tangled back up to ten! Feeling the frustration build, I breathed, studied it, and continued to work strand by strand. I had all but four strands free again. If I kept going, I knew, from experience that I would only make it worse so I figured
that was good enough. I could live with the necklace having those four tangled strands because the alternative, of trying to fix it, was too daunting a task.
I set it down and walked away. I quit. I went about finishing my cleaning but the necklace called me back. I picked it up again, amused with myself for my doggedness and feeling cheeky, I looked at myself in
the mirror and said, “You are going to fix this.” I knew that if I left those four strands tangled that the necklace would never be as beautiful as it should be.
I stared at it instead of pulling at it and suddenly, I saw the problem as clear as glass! The strands were not tangled at the bottom, which is where I was focusing all of my energy. The strands were tangled at the top! The clasps at the top, which connect the strands, were twisted. Once I turned the clasps around and moved some strands from one side to the other everything else fell into place at the bottom. No more knots!
“I did it!” I said as I stared at myself in the mirror grinning. I even did a little dance.
Then, it hit me.
This necklace represents a metaphor for my writing.
Lately, I have started so many stories but have abandoned them midstream. Alternatively, I have been editing a story that I just can’t seem to get right. No matter how hard I try to shake the strands of my writing in order to make it beautiful, I am coming up short and feeling frustrated.
As writers we spend so many painstaking hours, days, weeks, months, years pouring our hearts
into our pieces that sometimes we can’t even see how crappy they are. But, as we read them (or start to get rejections) we begin to see the tangled messes we’ve made. However, as we try to shake it to untangle the mess (by tweaking characters, scenes, plot or whatever) we just seem to be making it worse. So we leave it. We tell ourselves that we are a failure and that we should never write another piece ever again.
But something draws us back in.
We know that it can be fixed.
Sometimes what we are trying to say doesn’t always come across in our pieces. Who knows why that happens but it does. However, in order to make it beautiful we have to stop trying so hard to fix it and begin to see the bigger picture. See, if I had only realized from the beginning that my necklace was tangled from the top I would have saved myself a lot of frustration. But, I was trying to use logic by untangling one strand at a time. I thought that if I could just fix this one strand, the whole thing will fall into place but I was wrong.
I can apply that same principal to my writing. I may think it is a character that needs to be fixed but really it’s the plot, or maybe it’s not the plot but the depth of character. Until I step back and see the piece from the top down, I can’t really fix it at all. I need to look at my pieces from a different angle and try not to focus on the strands but the clasp that holds the strands together. In other words, determine what I’m really trying to say because if I don't my piece will never be as beautiful as it should be.
I am going to spend the day reading some of my unfinished stories to see if I can find the clasp. I know that if I just keep at it I will end up with something beautiful. Wish me luck!