My Pencil is a Balance Beam

24 Dec

Hello readers!  Our dearest Lindsey was kidnapped by wolves yesterday so that is why she was unable to post. Or maybe she didn’t have internet access. I can’t remember.  BUT she will return; just you wait.

Today is Christmas Eve! I don’t know what that means for all of you, but for me it means one thing: seafood. Pounds of it.  Lobster and shrimp piled high, pink, steaming, and buttered to perfection. Every December 24th, my family indulges in these crustacious creations. This custom is rooted in Italian tradition, and was celebrated by my mother’s Italian family. My mother grew up Connecticut, minutes from the shore, so there was always a plethora of fresh fish of any kind. Every year on Christmas Eve dozens of crates of seafood would be brought to the house, where it would be fried, baked, and steamed. Then they would feast– mothers, fathers, uncle, aunts, grandparents, grandchildren, everyone together enjoying good food and company.

Seventeen years ago, my family uprooted from the East and moved to the Midwest where we began to spread our roots in the fertile soil of Indiana. There are no beaches in my city, let alone four blocks from my house. My grandparents and cousins don’t live in the same state as me anymore. Life is different here. Not better or worse, just different. So every year, my parents, my sisters, and I boil lobsters and peel shrimp as a testament to the years that have passed. Distance and death have removed us from the precious company of loved ones, but we can still raise our glasses to the days that once were. This is one of our many family traditions, which I’m sure you all have in some form or another.

Over the years I’ve found that life is one big pile of discarded shells, flecked with little pieces of rich goodness that you have to dig hard and deep to find. As years pass, families grow and diminish; traditions change and become messy. Families are messy. The holidays are messy because it’s the marriage of the two: family and tradition. Two separate entities that are both unique and complicated, combined to form one fleshy thing that gives your mother “agita.”

And here is my point. In writing, as in life, it’s okay to have traditions or habits. It’s fine to have a specific writing style and certain format you know you excel at. But in order to grow and move you have to be open to change. Adaptation is the key word. If you don’t roll with the punches, your writing will become stale. This is one of the major areas that I need to work on. I get caught in a writing groove where I’m comfortable and warm, and I  don’t want to leave because everywhere else is so cold. Now, I’m not saying I need to completely forget the style that I know works. That’s me; that’s my voice. All I’m saying is build off of THAT; find balance between the old and the new. And I say that like it’s an easy thing, but I know it’s not. I’m constantly trying to find the  balance between too many details vs. not enough or too much dialogue vs. none, etc.

I don’t have any solutions; I’m still searching for answers myself. I just know that it’s not a matter of could, would, or should, it’s something I need to do if I want my essays to flourish. Do you feel the same? What are your thoughts?

Happy Holidays everyone! I wish you and yours all the best, now and in the new year.


2 Responses to “My Pencil is a Balance Beam”

  1. leeraloo December 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    I am so jealous you get to eat seafood on Christmas eve. All I get is corn souffle and tiny turkey sandwiches.

  2. Layne Ransom December 24, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    Lindsey is always getting trapped by forest predators. We should sit down with her and have a traumatic intervention about it.

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