Today's tip comes out of Salt Lines, a compilation of Nova Scotia writers talking about the best advice they ever received or stumbled upon. This one is from my pal, Sue Goyette, who has had four books published and won many awards, the most recent being the Pat Lowther award for her poetry.
Here's a bit from her essay in Salt Lines:
Wilma Flinstone was an early furnace for me. In an episode of the Flintsones, Wilma decides to redecorate her cave as well as giving herself a makeover. She changes into a new pelt, sticks a bigger bone in her hair, wears a different rock necklace. She drags in a zebra couch, hangs up curtains. I was eight and completely entranced not just by this rejuvenation but how, when she was pounding a bone (a claw, a tooth?) into the wall to hang a new painting, the wall cracked. I remember being horrified at the thought that everything she'd been working towards had been ruined but Wilma, predating Martha Stewart by ages, quickly pulled out a jar of paint and expertly turned the crack into a climbing vine with leaves. ....the idea that something ruined could not only be salvaged but transformed into a worthwhile thing settled deep into my psyche and still warms me.
Tip: That which is ruined may be not only salvaged but transformed.
Top: Sue Goyette
How it Works in my life: Sometimes when things seem terrifically overwhelming - the wolf isn't just at the door but is actually sitting at my table - my heart is broken - people I love are in terrible trouble or just plain gone - and I think I cannot breathe let alone write I tell myself to pay attention. I notice the details of fear, of grief, the landscape of trouble. I believe it will not only be helpful to my writing but by staying present I will transform this shit to gold. The other part of this Wilma parable is that she doesn't despair, she just gets on with it. I like that.