Art’s Eternal Truth

Thanks to Rochelle and her commendable efforts as moderator of the Friday Fictioneers, another prompt has tumbled into my In-box. Many thanks also to Douglas MacIlroy for contributing the photo. Join this week’s Friday Fiction effort HERE.

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed…and it may be awhile again… I’ve been in a general muddle lately! However, when I saw this prompt photo first thing this morning my muse nudged me and called to mind our clever sculptor friend, Marcel. Art Must be Flexible. She suggested this might be his concept of a bird-feeder. I chuckled, then decided to let the tale spin out and see how far it went. What do you think?

Photo © Douglas M. MacIlroy

ETERNAL TRUTH

“I’m calling this ‘Birdfeeder’,” Marcel told his friends.

“Birdfeeder!” Crombie exclaimed.

“My interpretation of man’s efforts to positively impact his environment.”

“How about ‘Gone With the Wind’?” Percy suggested, examining the creation skeptically. “It’s getting rusty.”

“That’s it! I’ll call it ‘Eternal Truth’. Like ‘Dust to dust; ashes to ashes; iron to rust’…”

His friends groaned.

A woman rushed over. “It’s brilliant,” she exclaimed. “I must have it. How much?”

“Three thousand,” Marcel quoted.

As she signed the cheque Crombie nudged Percy. “There’s gotta be an eternal truth in here somewhere.”

Percy winked. “Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.”

“You Have Won A Free Trip”

This is an old news item, but hope it gives you a smile this morning:

An Iowa farmer received a suspicious phone call one morning—from his own cell phone.

A few hours earlier he’d been sorting hogs to take to market that day. During the process he took a few minutes to call the house and check if there were any messages for him on his answering machine. After getting the message, he stuck his cell phone back in the top pocket of his bib overalls and went back into the pig pen to continue his task.

The phone must have fallen out of his pocket and into the pen as he climbed over one of the fences. Later, when he was back in the house his phone rang. He said, “Hello?” and voices at the other end said, “Grunt, grunt, squeal, squeal, snort!”

Evidently his hogs had found the cell phone and managed to hit REDIAL. They say pigs are really quite intelligent creatures. Maybe they were complaining about the conditions in their pen, squealing on on unruly pals, or ordering in more chow?

But the farmer interpreted the message as:
“You have won a free trip to the barn, followed by a lively treasure hunt.”

Time to Write

Time Management Woes

As you may realize, this past winter I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my lack of order and productivity. This isn’t new; all my life I’ve refused to be a slave to schedules and To-Do lists — but this has left me with a case of chronic indecision. Bogged down with “Where to start?”

Also, I’ve been a hoarder. Part of my effort to make improvements I’ve already written about: decrease the paper clutter; finish small writing projects. But the bigger projects still await my attention — and zeal. Too many “Started, not finished” projects are like a stone holding your head under water.

This week a book title popped up in BookBub:
10 time management choices that can change your life.

I checked it out and decided to take a chance. I’ve have been working my way through it in the past few days and it’s been nailing me right and left. Addressing issues like why you never get done the big things because of wasting time, indecision, procrastination. Creative people who hop from one project to another. Never finishing — or starting— a project because you’re too much of a perfectionist. Examples of others who sound so much like me. Ouch!

From what I’ve read so far, I can heartily endorse the book. How much benefit I get from it depends on how many changes I’m willing to make in my day-to-day activities. One quote really hit home, citing my prime nemesis:

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe

Now I’m thinking specifically of my writing projects sitting on the back burner. The books I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, for example. I can see how lack of accountability and lack of a deadline have stalled me. You could say, “Filling my days with the things which matter least.”

I was once a part of a writing group that met once a week and was a real inspiration to keep working at my writing. I miss that. So I’d like to ask you readers for your suggestions. I’m looking for online writing partners or a group that will add some pressure, some deadlines.

Last night I googled and checked out online writing groups, hoping to find one where members exchange chapters for critiquing. Some beta readers or an editor who will reply in reasonable time and won’t cost this penniless writer a lot of dough. Not a given weekly writing assignment, but feed-back on my WIPs. (By e-mail; no Facebook, Yahoo groups or Skype.)

I’m hoping to find a few critique partners somewhat on my own wavelength. I’m happy to give feedback on others’ writing but don’t want to have to read ten zombi and/or horror chapters a week just to get feedback for my own mild tales. (Been there, done that once.)

Any suggestions? Anyone interested in reading and critiquing, sharing WIP projects? If so, please leave a comment, or email me at christinevanceg @ gmail.com

Diesel Power

Long-Distance Trucker

His truck finally parked Friday night,
shower eases the soreness from his muscles
the chatter of his children drives
the whine of the motor from his ears.
Supper steak sizzles in the pan,
a soft shoulder to wrap his arm around
the warmth of a loving smile.

He sprawls on the couch after supper
and dreams of an office job,
tapping a keyboard all day,
week nights with the kids.
What is it about the roar of a diesel
that pulls him back to the road again?

–CG

A Dollar Per Member

I’m happy to say my project for this winter — reorganizing my DropBox files — is well over half done now! All Articles they go the ART section, anecdotes in ANEC, book reviews in BOOKS, etc. Hindsight being better than foresight, I should have done this from the get-go.

I’m also working away at the “paper mountain” I’ve accumulated over the years, typing in all the snippets, articles, and scribblings I’ve saved in a “Deal With Someday” tub. Which means I’m getting a lot of little poems finished up and ready to post. And our shredder’s about worn out!

Here’s a little human interest item from the new ANECDOTES section in my Dropbox. This was posted March 2014, so very few of you will have read it yet.

One Dollar Per Member Per Month

When the mission work of the church began to spread in Haiti and small congregations became established, It was decided that each member should give a tithe of $1 per month toward the expenses of the national church as a whole. Money to pay the expenses of a general conference would come out of this as well as other administrative costs.

So everyone tithed their dollar a month and things went fairly smoothly, but you know how we people are inclined to procrastinate. Eventually the question came up at a yearly conference: how were some of the very poorest members going to pay this $12 per member per year? Many Haitians had very limited opportunities to earn; it was more than some could do to buy food every day. A $12 yearly “conference tithe” seemed impossible.

The issue was debated back and forth until one elderly brother rose to his feet and addressed the group. “I guess I don’t know what you people are talking about,” he began. “I don’t remember that we ever decided on a $12 per member per year tithe.”

Members looked at him in surprise. “Of course this was our decision.”

“No,” he countered. “Our decision was ONE DOLLAR per member PER MONTH. If you leave it until the year end and then try to come up with $12 each in your household, it will be a serious hardship. It will be a lot easier if each one just pays the one dollar per month. That’s not an unmanageable sum, is it?”

And they all agreed. That wasn’t such an unmanageable sum after all.

Most major projects are a lot easier to accomplish when you take care of them swiftly and in small chunks.

That Foul Fiend “I CAN’T”

CAN’T

by Edgar Guest

Can’t is the worst word that’s written or spoken;
doing more harm here than slander and lies;
on it is many a strong spirit broken,
and with it many a good purpose dies.

It springs from the lips of the thoughtless each morning
and robs us of courage we need through the day;
it rings in our ears like a timely-sent warning
and laughs when we falter and fall by the way.

Can’t is the father o feeble endeavor,
the parent of terror and half-hearted work;
it weakens the efforts of artisans clever
and makes of the toiler an indolent shirk.

It poisons the soul of the man with a vision;
it stifles in infancy many a plan;
it greets honest toiling with open derision
and mocks at the hopes and the dreams of a man.

Can’t is a word none should speak without blushing;
to utter it should be a symbol of shame.
Ambition and courage it daily is crushing;
it blights a man’s purpose and shorten his aim.

Despise it with all of your hatred of error;
refuse it the lodgment it seeks in your brain;
arm against it as a creature of terror
and all that you dream of, you someday shall gain.

Can’t is the word that is foe to ambition,
an enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
its prey is forever the man with a mission
and bows but to courage and patience and skill.

Hate it, with hatred that’s deep and undying,
for once it is welcomed ‘twill break any man;
whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
and answer this demon by saying, “I CAN.”

From his book, Along Life’s Highway
© 1933 by the Reilly and Lee Company