Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Little Things

Every once in a while I’ll read a post so wonderful that I am sometimes tempted to tell the poster he or she should write. Most replies to the suggestion fall into two categories: the–I–don’t–know–how–to–write folks and the–I–don’t–have–time–to–write people. I’ll address the knowledge issue another time. For now, let’s consider the time topic.

If you haven’t read The One Minute Manager, get it and read it. Using that book, you should be able to clear at least fifteen minutes a day (if not more). It seems like a very short time, but you’ll free up an hour every four days and ninety-one hours in a year. That’s a lot of time. How will you use it?

Little things like a mustard seed can make a large tree. This is one of the most important things we can all learn no matter our life or profession. A short tale will illustrate how true this is.

Many, many years ago in Florence, Italy the artists were proud of their superior skill related to crafting stained glass windows. They were so proud that they decided to hold a competition to determine who among them could make the best window for the new Cathedral. Thirteen-year-old Mario wanted to become a great glass artist, but he was a poor apprentice to one of the window makers. Mario didn’t have the money needed to buy glass for a window, yet strongly desired to enter the contest.

A year later on Saint Mark’s day, the contest was over. The Duke picked the winning window. It showed a depiction of Christ beckoning, “Come follow Me.” Who was the artist? On all works except this one, the artists had scrawled their names in large proud letters.

Looking closely at the winning window, the Duke saw a tiny “M” on the hem of Christ’s garment. The winner was Mario. The bashful boy was brought before the Duke.

“Where did a poor lad like you get the glass to make this extraordinary window?” the Duke inquired.

Mario replied, “I made that window out of scraps of glass that I picked up every day from the waste bins of the other window makers.”

There is a great lesson here for all of us. It is amazing how much we can accomplish by doing little things one after the other. Life is a series of little things which can become very important. “For the want of a nail the shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost. For the want of a horse, the rider was lost. He was overtaken and slain by an enemy, and all for the want of a little horseshoe nail.”

When it comes to writing, a writer doesn’t sit down and write an entire book in one session. Some authors don’t write an entire chapter in one sitting. Others don’t even complete an entire scene. Writers write letter by letter and word by word and sentence by sentence. Remember Mario made his window from scrapes. For writers, we have twenty-six pieces of scrapes. It’s called the alphabet. We just need to take the time to put the scraps together in the right way. Fifteen minutes can be a great deal of time when added to another fifteen minutes every day throughout the year. It could be enough time to write a book.

As for Mario, if you’re ever in Florence, go by and take a gander at his beautiful window and marvel at what he crafted from other people’s trash.

Until next time, happy reading and writing!

20 comments:

Màiri Norris said...

Mary, I think any writer can manage to carve out 15 minutes from their day to write, if they really want to. If we can find 15 minutes, we might also be able to find 30. It might take a bit longer to finish, but it will get done.
Great post, and encouraging.

Kate C. said...
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Kate C. said...

Mary, I love this story, and it pretty much describes my writing this semester-- stolen time, little opportunities that all add up.

Kate C. said...
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Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Very true about time management. But creative, lost in the moment time, that could be a problem, especially for literary writers. Cumulative space cobbled from many fifteen minute intervals should work.

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

What a wonderful post!! I tweeted.

Liz Fountain said...

I love the idea of creating something beautiful from what others see as garbage. My sweetheart does that a lot with "found objects" turned into hooks, shelves, doorknobs, and other useful and beautiful stuff.

The analogy to writing -not only our cast-off time, but maybe cast-off ideas that can be recombined into something lovely?

Liz

olgagodim said...

Great post, Mary. The technique is also useful for a writer's block, with the caveat: you write during those 15 minutes, not just stare at the blank screen.
One writer said that when he has a writer's block, he forces himself to write at least 3 sentences a day. I can attest: it helps out of the block.

Mary McCall said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mairi Norris.Sometimes during difficult times, 15 minutes is enough to keep us sane too.While writing my first book, I was working as a nursing director/slave. Which means salary and the I didn't get to go home till the job was done.The most hours I worked in any week that I remember was 86. So I literally wrote my first book based on the 15 minute principle.

Sometimes the hardest thing we have to do to write is demand X amount of time without intrusions AND NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR THAT DEMAND.

But there is always hope! so glad you mentioned it because hope a a writer's weapon on every book written.

Mary McCall said...

Kate C. I'm grinning. Even if a writer does nothing but write in their journal and not on a story, that is sometimes an accomplishment. Writers truly LOVE to write and if they don't, every other aspect of their lives tends to go down hill. (Pssst, don't tell anyone but I hate writing a journal. Itakes away from my story telling time. lol.

Mary McCall said...

HI Julie Eberhart Painter, so glad to see you here!
You are so right about creativity being an occasional issue for writers, but it's not just a problem for literary authors. It's a problem for us all. I used to do seminars regarding creativity, innovation and performance improvement and have done a free class as well for online authors. After I address the I-don't-know-how-to-write people, I may start pulling a few lessons from my creativity course to address here. Thanks for the topic idea. I'm always confounded and speak to my characters out loud until they give me an idea for a blog topic. ROTF!

Mary McCall said...

HI Julie Eberhart Painter, so glad to see you here!
You are so right about creativity being an occasional issue for writers, but it's not just a problem for literary authors. It's a problem for us all. I used to do seminars regarding creativity, innovation and performance improvement and have done a free class as well for online authors. After I address the I-don't-know-how-to-write people, I may start pulling a few lessons from my creativity course to address here. Thanks for the topic idea. I'm always confounded and speak to my characters out loud until they give me an idea for a blog topic. ROTF!

Mary McCall said...

Ella Quin, you are such a dear! Thanks for stopping by and for tweeting.

Mary McCall said...

Liz Fountain, you are so right. I'm an index card person and never throw away an idea, dialogue, or anything else. They're all categorized and filed for future use.
So cool that the LOYL makes things from other people's garbage.I'd love to be creative in an art medium other than words and music.

Mary McCall said...

Hi olgagodim, great point. I have a different solution to writers block. Refuse it! Have a second story project in the background. Write on it when you feel stumped on your main wip. Your mind will continue to ruminate over issues that your main story needs. I've got a backup story now that I can't wait to finish and it will probably be release in the middle of another series between the third and fourth books just because it's reached a point the it's truly fun and I just love the characters.

Mary McCall said...

Hi olgagodim, great point. I have a different solution to writers block. Refuse it! Have a second story project in the background. Write on it when you feel stumped on your main wip. Your mind will continue to ruminate over issues that your main story needs. I've got a backup story now that I can't wait to finish and it will probably be release in the middle of another series between the third and fourth books just because it's reached a point the it's truly fun and I just love the characters.

Mary McCall said...

Hi olgagodim, great point. I have a different solution to writers block. Refuse it! Have a second story project in the background. Write on it when you feel stumped on your main wip. Your mind will continue to ruminate over issues that your main story needs. I've got a backup story now that I can't wait to finish and it will probably be release in the middle of another series between the third and fourth books just because it's reached a point the it's truly fun and I just love the characters.

Mary McCall said...

PS, Julie. I may need to blog about capturing ideas next time.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Mary, they are illusive (ideas). It's not a bad idea to take notes even in the middle of dinner.

Mary McCall said...

LOL, Julie. When I teach creativity classes, I focus much time on capturing skills. Did I ever mention that I'm addicted to index cards. I may forget my cell phone but index cards and a pencil are always with me. Now, ROTF!