about writing and life and God

Eggs and omelettes

on February 2, 2013


My dining room table is a mess.

But it’s happy mess, a necessary mess. I’ve been playing with decoupage: sort of 3D collage.

Digital Image

I wanted to have an eye-catching box to bring to church tomorrow, for the tried and tested stand-by recipes I’m hoping the older folk will contribute for a booklet for our young Mums. I’d bought some pretty wrapping paper but it didn’t have the impact I wanted. So yesterday I cut out foodie pictures. Today I stuck them down. Outside and inside the box!

Digital Image

And made a mess.

Someone once said you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. But those of us with a real dislike of mess are at a disadvantage. Because there’s very little worthwhile you can make without mess.

It’s funny: it doesn’t worry me when I’m writing non-fiction. I earned my living as an editor for so long I know that once there are words on paper/the screen, I’ve got something I can work with. However messy.

I’ve always wanted to try watercolour painting but so far I’ve only been able to get to the mess stage. And I have neither the experience nor the confidence (maybe they go together?) to push through. When I hit the mess, I quit.

I wonder if I’m a bit like that with the latest novel I’ve been working on?

I’ve been following the story as it developed. (If I plot it out I get bored and feel I’m just the typist.) I know who my characters are and I know pretty much where they get to in the end. But then they got uppity and started changing, developing, getting messy – getting real. And the story needs to change to be true to them.

But I’ve frozen. Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mess and the huge amount of work (it appears) necessary to separate out the threads and get it tidy so I can get the story rolling again.

A wise friend once advised that if you get yourself into a tangle, the best place to start untangling is the easiest knot. Baby steps. Pomodoros. 1,000 words a day, or an hour or 25 minutes. Whatever is genuinely doable. And tackle the easiest bit. Set yourself up for success.

And accept the mess.

Soon I’ll have to go back downstairs and gather up the newspapers I used to protect my polished table, and with them all the snippings and gluey bits of leftover cut-outs. In a few moments the mess will have gone and I’ll have somewhere to eat my Sunday lunch. (If I remember to take it out of the freezer!)

I’m reminded that God came right down into our mess when He came to rescue us. He accepted our mess and us with it. And He continues to work with us right in the middle of our mess.

No building site is spick and span. I need to remember I’m a work in progress too!





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