Sparked by Words

Measuring Devices

Depending on perspective, I’m a total failure or a remarkable success.

I never completed my master’s program (studio art) but earned a bachelor’s degree (creative writing) and more than 60 units beyond. My marriage was often rocky and miserable (for both of us) but we just celebrated our 46th anniversary. Though I’m not a great artist, I worked three years in a commercial studio (sapped my soul) and was an outstanding art teacher for nearly three decades. We don’t travel often but have spent hours in the company of our four grandchildren who show us worlds we never imagined. Our bank account is small, our house needs repair, our cars are old, but everywhere I go, I meet friends.

Books and blogs that teach writing skills order us to sit our ass in the chair and write. To get the story done. They admonish that for many people the book never gets to The End. I’m not published (yet!) but have written three children’s books, three adult novels, and am working on the fourth. That’s a barge of queries, of failures and rejections, and of one serendipitous acceptance letter looming in my future, but six books completed. Finished. Done. The End.

Each sentence I write is the best I can scrape from my marrow but someone else has written a more lyrical line. Every character I imagine conveys a power the whole world recognizes as universal truth but another author has written a better story. My sons nod at my achievements but a stranger stands at the podium and autographs the front page of her published book.

The Pulitzer committee isn’t waiting for me. Not for me.

I’ve a long way to go but I know I’ll get there because I’ve already trudged up the rugged path called Effort and stood at the top of the wilderness called Merit. Up here the wind blows hard, trying to knock me over, to see the word Fail graffitied on the boulder under my feet.   I don’t look down where the view makes me dizzy. I gaze toward the horizon which has no end and squint to see the command Succeed puffed in clouds.

You measure me in years or miles or finish lines or trophies. I measure myself in chapters and plots and titles and revisions.

You don’t know my name. One day you may. One day you will.

I am Sharon Lynne Bonin-Pratt. I’ve written a book or two.

 

 

Image courtesy Pixabay

 

 

 

 

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Comments on: "Measuring Devices" (44)

  1. Great post. I like the way you measure yourself. Keep plowing away. Your day shall come.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sharon, I really like this post. In an humorous way you convey the reality of life
    for a writer or anyone starting out on a venture but not yet got a ” Name” .
    The rugged hill called Effort, the wilderness called Merit……Succeed puffed in clouds.
    How eloquently you express this.

    Your impressive name will shine and meanwhile you just keep that warm happiness.
    All the best
    Miriam

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a wonderful post. That third paragraph resonated with me because I feel the same when I write. There is always somebody else out there with better sentences and better stories. Hopefully I can use that as motivation to keep improving my craft.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Knowing I’m someplace in the heap used to shake my confidence so much that my next sentences sounded like they’d been written by a third grader. One day I realized another writer’s impressive skill was a goal I should aspire to. My subsequent sentence sounded like it had been written by a fifth grader – progress, right?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Jenna Barwin said:

    Well said! And never doubt you are an author. You are.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shari, I know your name!! 😀 This is such a heartening post that has me smiling – I like your measurements and think I’ll adopt them, if that is okay?! 😀 Wow – you have written so many books and that is itself an incredible feat. Publication will come in due course and I can’t wait to see your work! Your calm in the face of so many musts and shoulds in our society gives strength to us all who write to the end, then start again. Happy Writing, my friend … and Happy Living too with your family, everyday life is hugely under-appreciated I feel! hugs xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So well said. I think this is true of many of us. We are a raging success in our small pond, not so much in the big world. I like how you said this.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You brought memories of my mother. I remember her words (I don’t remember the context)
    “There will always be someone smarter, someone not as smart, someone richer, someone poorer than you . . . .”

    I know she meant it to comfort me and I took it in that vein at the time. As an adult I sometimes wonder if it aided me in settling rather than pushing myself to excel. That world view, however, is embedded in my psyche.

    Your post was excellent.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. This reminds me of an article I read about Matthew Modine (the actor). I have no idea why I read the article but he talked about his father who was so talented at so many things that he never really found peace or joy in any one thing. I was devastated by this at the time because as a self-absorbed college student I was certain that I’d never be good enough at any one thing. Funny how a chance read gave me years of self-inflicted misery. Modine’s father may have been happy flitting from one thing to the next but his son saw him as a failure. It’s all in how we look at things.

    My mother once asked if I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in the big one. I said I wanted to be in the small pond. My parents shook their heads. Nope. We want you to be a big fish in the big pond. Haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Maybe Modine projected his own sense of failure on how he saw his father. College is a time not to find yourself, as lots of people tell us, but to see the possibilities. I’m not sure what my parents dreams for me were, but I disappointed them. It took me decades to learn to separate myself from their inchoate expectations and peruse my dreams, my way. Facing the fact that they were unsatisfied but that I wasn’t allowed me to take some pride in my achievements. Seeing how much other people have accomplished, often with far fewer resources, reminds me how much I’ve wasted. At least I have something to look forward to – even at my age.

      You always say something unexpected, Adrienne, you always make me think.

      Like

      • I hate to think about the wasted chances but glad we’ve both lived long enough to embrace our dreams.

        My parents, for all their flaws, were exceptionally loving people I owe a debt of gratitude to. I now realize how lucky I was to have them even if they insisted I go to the bigger university. LOL.

        Happy Mother’s Day!

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      • Happy Mother’s Day to you, Adrienne.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, I so love this, Shari! I love how you describe writing a sentence is “the best I can scrape from my marrow.” Wow, what a metaphor! And so true for writers I’m sure. I believe you are a success with what you have written as well as what you share on your blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Shari, you write beautifully. Your words flow with ease. I wish you could get past the query letter so one of your novels will be published. Then I can read it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Linda Young said:

    Sharon, I like your writing style. It’s engaging and interesting. You paint a vivid picture with your words. Thanks for sharing your “ink”. Keep putting yourself out there; your book deal is right around the corner.

    Like

  12. thank you for this tribute to all of us who have no choice but to persist because art has chosen us.

    just finished “Big Magic,” by Elizabeth Gilbert – perhaps you’d enjoy it as I did?

    Like

  13. I really love how you measure yourself, Shari. It’s so difficult sometimes to do this especially when it comes to the arts in all its various forms. Just because one isn’t published yet doesn’t automatically mean the book one wrote isn’t good enough or that someone wrote it better. It just means that there are still lots of doors to be knocked upon until you find the one other person that will open it and let you in. I really hope this will soon happen for you my friend, I really do.

    Like

    • Thank you, Sarah, I treasure your comment. Art is a matter of personal taste, as you know, and I just haven’t found the one agent who’s fallen in love with my book, believes it will sell, and is willing to take the chance on trying to promote it to potential editors/publishers. I understand the hesitation for an unknown person without connections. So, yes, still knocking on doors, still hoping.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Sharon, from what I’ve read of your posts here on WP, you have arrived. Your writing is outstanding, in my opinion. Every published writer’s path is paved with rejection slips. Keep on keepin’ on – I admire your writing style and your skill, and know you’ll succeed in reaching your goal!

    Like

    • Betty, thank you so much for your words of encouragement – means a great deal to me.
      Happy Mother’s Day to you – I know this is bittersweet for you.

      Like

      • You’re welcome, and thank you, Sharon. Yes, bittersweet…. seems we all experience that “taste” sooner or later. Hope you’re doing all right. I know how hard it is to lose our moms….even when it’s a blessing they’re no longer suffering. I still have nightmares about her last few years. It leaves us with PTSD…. But I digress. Take good care, my friend.

        Like

      • I’m dealing with a few nightmares as well, and also those odd moments when I worry that it’s cool, is she wearing a sweater; she’d like this new blouse except no reason to think about it; or I find myself driving toward the place where she lived. Strange dichotomy of knowing I should have done some things differently but then thinking she’s still here. I guess it takes a while to settle in. Thanks for reminding me I’m not crazy.

        Like

      • Sounds very familiar, Sharon. After two years I still have a split second urge to call my mom – especially around 2:30 when we usually talked. And on and on. And always so many regrets, and yet there was nothing that could’ve been done differently. A dichotomy indeed. No, you aren’t crazy! Sending hugs. ❤️

        Like

      • The ghosts of the way things used to be, I think. Hugs back to you, Betty.

        Like

  15. A wonderful post Sharon and I love the way you measure your success. You may not be published but I look up to you as a writer of note. I already know your name – one day the rest of the world will also.

    Like

  16. Looks like you have achieved an enormous amount Sharon, but of course there are folk who have achieved more (I am not one of them). I am proud to be numbered among your friends, and don’t care if you never win a Pullitzer, I always enjoy your writing. Carry on, onwards and upwards. Maybe, maybe not.

    Like

  17. You’re speaking right into our souls with this one Shari. Comparing ourselves will never bring us satisfaction. Finding peace in what we can contribute is a goal with going for.
    I still think your writing is some of the best I’ve ever read.

    Like

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