Sunday, February 26, 2012

War Post: 26 Feb, 2012 & Fight of Gratitude

The sea breeze in your hair, smell of salt in the air, and the warm water in your Ecco shoes squishing between your toes makes you want to jump in.  Sprinting forward you leap into the water only to land face first in the wet sand.

As you crawl back on your knees you realize each of your wrists is bound by a bloody metal chain.  While wondering where they came from, you tug on the ends to discover they are attached to huge cement pillars rooted in the sand.

Furious you begin fighting against the chains pulling at them with all your might.  Yanking on one or the other to get the pillar to move; standing between the pair trying to muscle your way forward; and even trying to push or pull the pillars closer together to get you a little closer.  But all is in vain, you're tired, bleeding, and hopeless.  To be so close to the ocean, which has been your dream since you were a child and to be denied it is more than just frustrating.  It is a crazymaker which causes you to fight relentlessly, until there is nothing left.

Falling to your knees in the surf you hope that the tide will come in further, but as you wait it drifts further and further away.  "Come back!" you cry, cupping what little is left in your hands, but watching as it drains between your fingers.  This can't be happening.  You crawl a little further where your hands and knees are just barely in the surf.  The gentle embrace of the water is enough to bring you to tears and you find yourself sobbing moments later.

Between the tears you remove your shoes and stand in the ebbing water leaning forward.  And as your tears join their great mother, you think that even being able to be close to your dream means something.  And your heart swells with pride as you watch the last of the tide ebb away from you and you are left chained and alone on the beach.

Anger rears itself again, but you are too tired to give it life.  And though you are sad, the overwhelming emotion you possess is gratitude for the opportunity to witness the grandeur of the ocean.  In your minds eye you can see the storms and the calms, the ebb and the flow, and you remember that it will be back.  And for a moment you can see the birds in the distance, the sweep of the ocean against the backdrop of the evening firesky, and the other people swimming in the water.  They look so happy and you wish with all your might you could be like them.  "Help me!" you cry, and a petite woman turns to make her way towards you.

As she approaches you notice her wrists are heavily scarred.  She smiles at you.  "Keep fighting.  It's the only way you'll have the strength to swim among us.  The tide is too strong otherwise."  And with that she turned and jumped into the water again.

Realizing your dream was still at hand, tears of gratitude continue to pelt the sand as you look around and notice all around you on the beach are others struggling towards the ocean with their pillars.  Some far away, and others even closers than you, but all fighting towards one goal one purpose.  To live life engulfed by the tides of the ocean.  And you return to your struggle, grateful that you are closer than you ever were before.

*     *     *

Photo curtesy of Honikum
An hour or two ago I was going to write a post about how hard this past week was.  About how I felt so frustrated at the fact that I accomplished nearly nothing.  And I even went on the internet to find a picture to share how I felt.  My wife found this picture and I felt the need to write about it.  Not a few minutes later, or a few days, but right NOW.

I am so profoundly grateful for the opportunity to be fighting to join the community of authors and writers.  I struggle frequently with my writing, I have frustrations, fears, and difficulties constantly with it.  But I love writing.  I love the power of the written word to express emotion and truth.  I enjoy grappling with the difficult issues of our society revealing them in different lights and thinking about what that says about us.  And sometimes when my anger and my fears gets the best of me I forget why I'm in this fight.  I am not here to get published, but read.

If I wanted to be published, I could spend the money to get the ISBN number on something I've written and share the copies with friends who I don't expect to ever read it.  But that isn't enough for me.  I write for the mastery of the language and the opportunity to share my deepest feelings with others.  I write to share what I think is an important message with others and bring solace to folks around me.  I write because I am called to it the way a prophet is called to teach, the way a good teacher is called to teach, and the way men are called to be fathers.  I am called because I chose it, and I feel that power alive in my fingertips that says it chose me.  So this week, I'm revamping my goals.  Last week was a bust, because my life felt like it came apart at the seams.  But I've learned from my many friends (some writers, others family) some of whom are writing now, I've not even begun to fight.  Here are the goals of my fight:

1. Finishing Draft Two of "Crimes of the Umbramancer" by the 30th of April.
     I needed to do this for a long time.  I only set half hearted goals before.  The scene goal wouldn't have worked during NaNoWriMo and it won't work now.  I need to instead focus on big picture.  And that means when do I want to be done with this draft.  I realize the 30th of April is well into the next round, but that was the right date for the goal.  I'll update on how much I've finished from now on in this space.
2. Comment on ten blogs in ROW80:
     Done!  I barely made it this week.  Pretty much focused on the new job and my scenes.  And the fact that my world felt like it came unhinged Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  Thanks to wonderful friends and my wife it is back on its hinges again.
3. Walking at least a mile five times a week.
     Still failing, still keeping.  This one will change eventually trust me.
4. Building a new blog for my diversity issue.
   Still working on the ideas for the diversity part of this blog.  Kristen Lamb suggested I get a list of 100 before I started... So that's not going to happen.  Much of what I see I interpret into something that can be used for the blog.  Culture is a very wide umbrella, and I don't plan on always focusing on ethnic cultures, sometimes it will be technological cultures, or sociological cultures, but always culture and how to better understand it both as readers and writers will be prevalent here.
5. Going back to my writing ritual.
   Obviously I haven't been good at my writing ritual this past week.  I am going to continue to work on it and hopefully I'll find a specific time to sit down and do most of my writing each day.  I'm better learning how to balance my time, so I think I'll be there soon.

As the month is rolling to a close feel free to leave a comment.  Cause for every person who leave a comment I'm putting your name into a hat for an opportunity to win a book by N.K. Jemisin called "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms."  Mind you it is the first in a Trilogy and each book in the Trilogy has been nominated for a Nebula Award!  I'm super excited to give three copies of this book away and been thrilled with all the folks who've commented thus far!  If you have more to say, please comment again and get your name in the hat more than once!  On Friday's post I plan on sharing who the lucky winners are!  Whoo hoo!

Until then, my name is Jayrod Garrett and I am the First OG.  Why do you persist in the fight to write?


  1. Lovely post. "Anger rears itself again, but you are too tired to give it life." I really like this.

    One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Edison. He said "you only fail when you quit trying". Sometimes real life gets in the way of our dreams. Sometimes we do. We just have to fall back and regroup. Find ways to help yourself better focus your time when you do have it.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks Donna. I'm glad I have you as one of the folks modeling "swimming" for me.

  2. I can certainly relate to the concrete pillars in the sand. I persist in the fight because I have to write; it helps me work through things that happen, helps me understand what happens.

    Best of luck with the swimming!

    1. Thank you so much Elizabeth. Glad that I wrote something you could relate with.

  3. I thought what you wrote here was beautiful, so maybe you are closer to the water than you think. :)

    I'm definitely struggling with this writing thing. It seems like everytime I think I have it figured out, I find I only have stratched the surface. But the struggle is the only way we grow.

    Hope things get better to you.

    1. I hope you are right, Mary Ann. Tracy Hickman said recently "You have no yet written your best work." I believe him. I think all of us are still scratching the surface of our potential. But that's okay, because it means we still have worthwhile stories to tell.

  4. I liked the story but wondered how he/she could cup their hands if they were chained apart? Sorry to be picky. Sorry that life has not been that good to you this week but I just know it will be better soon. Believe in joy and it will happen.

    1. Pickiness is welcome here! It tells me what isn't described well enough. The picture is of a later moment in the story as opposed to an earlier one. The person in the earlier part of the story could kneel further back and get water, but as the tide leaves there is nothing for them to grasp. Such a good question! Thank you for reading it and sharing something so positive. (Yes, I'm masochistic. But enjoying criticism should be something every writer aspires to. Thanks again!)

  5. Excellent strong emotion--I feel the same all the time.

    To be read, to share, to make an impact on someone else are all far worthier aspirations than being published. I imagine the achievement of those aspirations will be less like a finish line and more like the rising of the sun on a cloudy morning. In hindsight you'll realize you're already there.

    I'm with you on writing your goals for the world to see. Accountability can be a great motivator. I'll continue to struggle along with you cheering you on from behind. Taking each day one step at a time. Nice work.

    1. Thanks so much Scott. I suspect you are right about how the achievement will feel. I'm just hoping to make each day worthwhile for my writing. I'll be cheering you on too. We writers got to stick together, the fights are lonely, but we are all on the beach fighting for our lives. Take care brother.


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