Life is Not A Test: You will Not Be Graded. You Will Always Be Applauded. (If You At Least Try.)

Life Is Not A Test. You Will Not Be Graded. You Will Always Be Applauded. (If You At Least Try.)

“Good writing…explodes in the reader’s face,” Joy Williams said. “Whenever the writer writes, it’s always three or four or five o’clock in the morning in his head.”

When we write, we have to stumble forward recklessly, passionately, and willy-nilly, using only our words as guides. It’s late at night and there are boulders we can’t see, only their shadows. It’s early in the morning and you don’t know, really, if the sun will ever rise. We have to push past our fears, urging our unwilling selves to go farther, not caring that what we put down on paper is good or makes sense or can even, or ever, describe and transmit all the fiery, fierce feelings in our hearts.

That’s why writing is so much like magic. It’s pulling a rabbit out of an empty black top hat. It’s scooping our insides and pouring them out. It’s being unafraid and brave and open when you’re feeling scared and lonely and unsure what to do with your life.

It’s an imperfect world, that’s for sure, which was why I asked you to write about your perfect moment. How amazingly incredible is that? Finding a perfect moment in the midst of all the suffering is no small accomplishment. It’s huge. Tremendous. A cause of celebration. Here are three of my absolute favorite perfect moments:

First, an introduction from a reader who wrote:

“I am trying this writing exercise because in March you suggested that one could actually ‘be more, by being less (you see I am paying attention).’  It seems that thought has been in the back of my mind and so after seeing your scary challenge (how I view a writing exercise)  I decided to do something I would normally never do and step out of the parameters of my tried and true self and see how I will feel.  You ask us to think about one of life’s perfect little moments – here goes, I turn on the timer and ……

A perfect little moment for me is when I wake up in the middle of the night and I feel my husband’s arm gently touching me. I listen to his steady breath and feel overwhelmed by the tenderness and love that he has for me. I revel in this moment and feel how lucky I am to have such a warm and caring anchor in my life… I am happy I tied my boat to his to go up and down on the waves of life together over the days, months and years. I feel at peace, safe and secure; I breathe deep and can fall back into peaceful, restful and rejuvenating sleep.” – Joy Berg

“It’s already past midnight and I’ve turned into a pumpkin. That’s all right I think to myself she can make a soup out of me, or carve me up and make me light up the night for a few nights a year at her house.
I didn’t expect to still be out at this hour. I especially didn’t think you’d still be out with me. We’ve spoken for hours upon hours, about nothing and about everything.
I’ll walk you home and say goodnight when you are ready. OR Now take me home since I can no longer walk. Carry me back to your place. We reach the door and I don’t say goodnight all I can say is ‘it was PERFECT’.”  – Tucker White

I’m busy in the kitchen, drinking coffee, and watching all my kids getting ready for school in the morning, cereal bowls and Cheerios and my son Drake’s yelling at Kate that she’s SO stupid and Kate is saying, you’re stupid, you’re stupid, and then Janie in her high chair starts crying, her hair’s a mess and spoons are flying and I’m smearing butter on toast and thinking about how all the other kids eat cheese and I’m wondering, why can’t my kids be normal and I turn for a moment and see those shining faces and that’s it. Perfection. – Christine Buenadicha

Thank you to all entrants!

If we can make art out of our lives, then we see that life itself is the art. We are living our best chapter when we acknowledge this stunning truth.

For next week: Set your timer for five minutes and write your first memory. Use as many senses as you can. Really go back as far as you can go. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar and above all, do not stop yourself from writing whatever you want to write. Life is not a test. You will not be graded. You will always be applauded. (If you at least try.)

About dianabletter

Diana Bletter is the author of several books, including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (with photographs by Lori Grinker), shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. Her novel, A Remarkable Kindness, (HarperCollins) was published in 2015. She is the First Prize Winner of Moment Magazine's 2019 Fiction Contest. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, tabletmag, Glamour, The Forward, The North American Review, Times of Israel, and is a reporter for Israel21C, and many other publications. She is author of Big Up Yourself: It's About Time You Like Being You and The Mom Who Took off On Her Motorcycle, a memoir of her 10,000-mile motorcycle trip to Alaska and back to New York. She lives in a small beach village in Western Galilee, Israel, with her husband and family. She is a member of the local hevra kadisha, the burial circle, and a Muslim-Jewish-Christian-Druze women's group in the nearby town of Akko. And, she likes snowboarding and climbing trees.
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1 Response to Life is Not A Test: You will Not Be Graded. You Will Always Be Applauded. (If You At Least Try.)

  1. Sharon says:

    I love the picture!

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