Curmudgeon Wisdom.

You all know by now that I keep a posse of old man friends at my disposal, because I’m an old curmudgeon at heart, and they understand me. We like elastic waistbands and jigsaw puzzles and we think that TV commercials are too loud these days and COULD YOU TURN IT DOWN, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE I CAN’T HEAR MYSELF THINK.

Yesterday, I had lunch with one of these guys and, as usual, he had some amazing books to recommend, amazing stories to tell and amazing wisdom to share.

1. I told him how I struggle to find balance in this new life of mine, with no boss and no evaluations and no real parameters for success. On even my most  productive writing day, I feel about 10 minutes of satisfaction before the thought sidles in,

BUT…if you woke up earlier you could have done more.

Done is never really enough and I rob myself of my own hard-earned joy.

And, as usual, he was unconcerned with my woes. He told me to finish my guacamole, go home and read the first stanza of Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking”

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
“Write well and then go live well. And- man alive!- when you’re done just be done!”
Like most old man wisdom, it’s so obvious that it seems foolish. But it’s the simple things that kids and old men understand and we forget in the frantic middle.
When you’re done just be done.

2. I told him how, as I continue to work on my book, I worry about my craftsmanship. That, in this life after college professors and writing workshops, I don’t get enough criticism of my structure, content, form, etc.

That’s an editors job.

He said with a wave of his hand.

The layman is your bread and butter. Go be grateful for your readers- those are the people who will buy books and give you a career. Leave the edits to the editor and be grateful that people want to hear what you have to say.

And I am.

I am so very grateful. Do I say that here enough? The only story I can really tell you guys is my own and I’m continually astonished that you want to hear it. So thanks for reading, for liking, for sharing and recommending. Thanks for your comments and emails and messages and tweets. I want you to know that I keep them in a folder and I whip them out to beat back Fear and scrounge up Hope on the difficult days. Thanks for taking time to feed me courage.

Happy Wednesday, everyone. May your naps be long and your socks be warm.

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