The Divining Wand

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Guest Keetha DePriest Mosley on Creating Time

June 29, 2010 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Time can be elusive. One might think that living in a small southern town — as opposed to a big city — that the pace would be slower and offer more time. But, in today’s guest post, Keetha DePriest Mosley [formerly Reed] (Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern, More Culinary Kudzu: Recollections & Recipes from Growing Up Southern) explains that even she’s had to learn to create and embrace life’s moments.]

It’s funny about living in a small town, and loving it so much, because when I was younger, I knew Manhattan is where I would live. I would have a sophisticated job and buy flowers from the little carts on the way home. I’d live in a loft and go to art galleries and whatever else it was sophisticated people did. I was going to be fabulous.

I realized – in time – that I could be fabulous right here in Mississippi but finding time, or, rather, making time to do what I really wanted to do was a challenge.

Years ago I read an interview withPeyton Manning. He was asked how was he so successful. One of the things he said was that he used his time. If he had five minutes to look over chemistry notes, he didn’t think, “I can’t possibly get anything done in that time so I won’t try.” He used those five minutes.

I’d heard that advice before. Heard it and ignored it. It was easier to say I don’t have time because I didn’t have a big, pretty block of two hours to write in. I had a messy, jumbled up, untidy, scraggly looking 12 minutes here and four minutes there and that’s not nearly as appealing.

But it works. I find that writing on demand, when an unexpected time opens up works pretty well. I do it fast, without thinking about it and kind of sneak behind my inner critic’s back. I’ve surprised myself by coming up with some decent stuff during those times. Ideas, sentences, topics.

That keeps me busy but it’s a good busy. It always surprises me what I can get done in fifteen minutes.

My mother once said, “You know? Nobody thinks they have enough hours in the day but people tend to do what they want to. If you really want to do something, you’ll figure out a way.”

Finding time is a challenge. Everyone is busy. I don’t know anyone who isn’t. I read a quote once (I love quotes) – I’m paraphrasing – but it was something like, Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have the same number of hours in a day that Benjamin Franklin, Mother Theresa, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Thomas Jefferson had.

A friend of mine told me once that she thought self-discipline is remembering what you really want. I have those words typed out where I can see them every day.

So now I write every day. I’m working on a novel and about halfway through with it. It may well be dreadful – that’s okay. I’m treating this as my own personal intense fiction-writing workshop. By the time I write to the end of it, I’ll know much lot more about crafting a novel than when I began. My second one should be better, and the third one even better.

I almost said that writing fiction is hard. Then I remembered a quote I read by Richard Ford. A Mississippi native, Ford won a Pulitzer. He said that digging ditches is hard. Standing for eight hours in an operating room performing brain surgery is hard. Writing is not hard. I think about that when it feels like it’s too much, that pulling the threads of a story together is too out of my skill level.

Making up stories is the best. I do it all the time. Driving to work, a car will pass me with a man in a business suit. And he’s singing away. I imagine he’s listening to opera. He and his wife’s first date was to opera production in college. Today is their wedding anniversary. Oh and he’s got tickets to Italy he’s going to surprise her with. My husband and I will be in Jackson and he’ll get annoyed because some car cut us off in traffic. I’ll say, Maybe his wife is in labor and he’s on the way to the hospital. Oh, wait – maybe his son is about to play his first t-ball game and he’s late for it. Oh, no, maybe he’s dog has been hit by a car and he’s speeding to the vet’s office. Maybe the guy is a jerk but even if he is, he’s got a story.

The reading life, the writing life, it’s so abundant and marvelous. It makes life – ordinary, every day simple things – seem so full and big. So much to wonder and marvel over – it’s vibrant way of life that I feel so lucky to live.

Note: The movie version of the bestselling novel, The Help, will be filmed mostly in Greenwood, Mississippi, the town where Keetha works. Imagine the behind-the-scenes film making tales she’ll be privy to and might well share in her blog posts at Write Kudzu, so visit often.

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Robin Antalek’s The Summer We Fell Apart in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Robin Antalek and The Summer We Fell Apart. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.