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Cathy: Start by doing what is necessary

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — St. Francis of Assisi

This quote is an oldie but a goodie. It’s embroidered on pillows and you can purchase froufrou-looking magnets of it in gift stores. I first hung it over my desk at home, on my refrigerator and over my desk at a job I had as a class assistant for a fifth through sixth grade class. At the time I was working three part-time jobs around my boys’ schedules as I was going through a divorce. Okay, stop right there, I’m not looking for sympathy or anything, I am merely recounting the circumstances that first inspired me to hang this quote everywhere I would most likely see it, and be able to take a moment to breathe. A couple of students even mentioned it helped them to see it, too.

Anyway, at that time, I felt like I was just pointing my bull’s horns forward and ploughing through life, surviving from waking to sleeping. St. Frankie here gave me hope that this too, shall not only pass, but I would be the better for having gotten through it. I was doing what was necessary for that time, so that I could make for a better possibility and maybe even reach for my dreams in the near future.

Well, it was during that chaotic time that I started the manuscript I’ve been moaning about lately. A lot in my life has changed since then, virtually all of it. I have remarried. I have relocated by a significant distance. I have another child, just to name the biggest and most obvious. It’s a new desk, but the quote still hangs, highly visible at the top of my list of inspirational quotes on the wall where I write.

Well guess what! I am taking this quote and rethinking where I am with the manuscript. I’m no longer at the beginning. I am very nearly finished. I have never finished a novel, a lifetime dream I was beginning to think was impossible. It’s not. I am doing it. I am doing it now, through mobile, teething, napless baby needs, a little at a time.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. That’s a great quote, and one I’d never heard before. Thanks for sharing it!

    It has (sort of) played out already in my life. I thought it was neccessary to stop going to my novel writer’s critique group because the meetings conflicted with the time Tom had to work on the house. I really needed to be home then and the liklihood I could write enough to be critiqued was low anyway. When I told my critique group, they mentioned starting a novelist’s book club, where we analyze books from a writer’s perspective, and were willing to change the meeting time to the evening to accomodate my schedule.

    I’m very excited about this new turn of events. If you had asked me if was possible to join a book club right now, I would’ve said no, but in reordering my priorities and doing what I could, I have achieved the impossible. 🙂

    March 2, 2009
  2. cathy #

    fantastic, brittany!

    you really never heard that quote before?

    March 2, 2009
  3. cathy #

    oops, clicked too soon..i meant to add i have a tendency to assume if i know something, everyone must know it, too.

    March 2, 2009
  4. Kristine #

    I never heard that quote before either, but I love it all the same.

    I’ve always said that there’s a time and place for everything. Before I had kids, it was my “time and place” to participate full-force in my writer/critique groups, write at every moment, take writing workshops, classes, etc. Now that my life has changed with children, it’s my “time and place” to be a mom first and a writer second. I may not have the same amount of dedicated writing time I had before, but that’s okay. That dedicated time will come back again and when it does, I will embrace it knowing that I did what was necessary now: raising my daugther and being a “present” mom.

    Cathy, you should be 100% proud that you are almost finished with your novel. Writing a novel is HARD. Just reaching the finish line is an accomplishment that needs to be celebrated. Few people make it that far.

    March 2, 2009
  5. cathy #

    thanks, kristine!

    yea, we’re all juggling a lot, and the younger the kids, the more juggling there is, or the more immediate the juggling act is. i’m glad i gave myself somewhat of a break as many suggested last week. back to it this week though. i hope, if we get some good naps, that is!

    March 2, 2009
  6. i love that quote, too. i’ve heard different variations of it so i’m glad to finally hear the real thing. it reminds me a tad of one of my favorites that i try to live by: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”-Winston Churchill

    good for you, cathy, for changing that outlook to “I am very nearly finished.” you will get there! i am 100% certain of that!

    March 2, 2009
  7. cathy #

    thanks, kelly, and it’s my believe that every pessimist is really an optimist at heart. they must have a great vision of the world to be so easily disappointed. 😉

    March 2, 2009

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