May 21, 2009

Ramblings of a still busy old lady

by Anna Arnett

The discussion on email about age quite intrigued me.  What seems old at one time in life, definitely seems young at another. We all know that.  Even little kids understand.

During my first year of teaching pregnant students, when enrollment stopped before twenty and I taught alone, I oncew took my grandson along.  Yes, I was his babysitter.  On the way, I talked about what he could do during the day.

"There are some jig-saw puzzles, but you may not be old enough to do them."

"Grandma, are you old enough?"

"Oh yes.  I've very old." I felt I was exaggerating, for I was only fifty-two, and felt young and active.

"I thought so."  

His sister had already hit me with, "Grandma, is it because you're old that you have that skin hanging from your neck?"

"Where?"  I dashed for the mirror and discovered my wattles for the first time.  Yep, I was getting old.

Today, all the fifty-year-olds look young to me, and worse still, those in their nineties look about my age.  At my single stage, a married woman, even my age, looked older, and a 20-year-old mother had aged far past me.  After my marriage, I felt about the same age as those up to twenty years older. 

Not only the concept of old and young, we have myriads of words in our language that have no precise meaning--tall, short, big, little, dark, light, up, down, even happy, sad.  The list goes on and on.  Without some point of reference, these definitions are nebulous.  Sometimes this is good.  It can let the reader/listener choose.  But at best, it's rather blah.

In a picture, size, color and proportions give perspective and draw the viewer into the scene.  A good writer works just as carefully to achieve the same goal.

Just as no two artists will paint the exact picture, so each writer creates a unique "word print" as individual as a signature or fingerprint.  We learn the rules, as Mark Twain says, so we can also understand where and how we can break them with impunity.

Yesterday, as I critiqued another writer, I thought she was a little too wordy, and her word needed a lot of tightening up.
This morning, still pondering her efforts, I came to a profound conclusion:  

Like everyone else--in my own humble opinion--all  written thoughts I've come up with are precious.  My ideas are great, so why I bother to write them. When I go to edit, I continually add more words to illustrate my feelings, actions, arguments, or whatever, but it's hard to cut.

On the other hand, I can more easily find fault with ... .

Well, I was going to make a great comparison here, and I tried, but deleted it all.  There's really no comparison to make.  For the most part I'm impressed with what I read, even when I didn't originate it. There's good there. I feel at one with each of you.

I planned this blog to give some wise insight into something or other, and find I'm not so wise after all.  So, I'll turn my attention elsewhere.

I'm impressed with everything you ANWA sisters are doing.  You are publishing, winning awards, writing encouragement, welcoming new members, building fantastic blogsites, raising children, giving service, handling problems, and moving right along.  I know it's not always easy, but you are doing it.

Now, my mentor Pamela is pushing me.  "I've known you for about three years now, and you ... "

"I've just been playing around with writing,"

"Yes.  It's time you stop playing and get to work.  Set yourself some goals,  with deadlines as near as possible, and then shut out all those extra things you do and make yourself work.   I know you say you are writing your bio mostly for your children, and you're still healthy and alert, but you have no guarantee of how long  that will be."  The more she spoke the more passionate her voice.  "Now go home and get busy." 

So, I've been busy.  I knit on an afghan for a granddaughter for a couple of hours; I spent that long working on a little problem on my income tax I'd had to extend; I answered a few emails; read a few blogs; wrote this; rearranged some books that needed it; made a list of things I needed to do today, nearly half of which are done, but only one of the many undone ones had to do with my upcoming book; I plan to go run some errands that mustn't be postponed; I need a manicure and a haircut; and somewhere or other I need to find something to eat besides the chocolate that's handy in my desk drawer.  Oh, and my visiting teaching is only half done.

I wonder from whence cometh any hope.  And I know the answer.


  1. Alright miss Anna, here comes your scolding! I want you to look at your second to the last paragraph and read it again. You set EVERYTHING before your writing! EVERYTHING! Pam tells us to treat our writing seriously. It should come first. We are not to fit it in with other things, but we are to fit other things in with our writing. Now Anna, GO WRITE! (Oh, and like I said, age is a state of mind. You are one of the youngest and funnest ladies I have ever met!)

  2. Yeah, I know. After all, I did write that paragraph. If I get enough scoldings, maybe I'll reform. Thanks for your encouragement. I'm one of your fans.

  3. I LOVE you, Anna. You are so real and I do the same thing. Your blog was a great illustration of why we need to focus and get at it, if we want to get there. I'm going to write down goals for this week and get them done! AND I need a haircut and manicure too.

  4. Anna, I love you so much. My life is richer for knowing you. I thought what you wrote up to the part where you started complaining about NOT writing was very profound... how certain words have no precise meaning, which can be a good thing (allowing the reader to choose), depending on what you are going for. Or, as you said, it can end up rather blah. We do need to give perspective to our writing (and to our lives ~ which you do so effortlessly and beautifully).
    Again, I love you, Anna!!


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