Advice to Live By

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

Terry McMillan’s Advice to Aspiring Writers can also be used for the non-writers alike.

Advice #2: “Try not to read, revise or rewrite what you’ve written until you’ve had a chance to let it simmer.” This can be applied to all of us: simply put, when the emotions run deep, think twice before you speak or communicate, for those words, no matter the medium, you have to stand by. I try my hardest to live by this, and I fall short because the emotions sometimes get in the way. And then I ask myself, do I really want to stand by the words that flew off my fingertips or tongue? Most likely not; or perhaps yes, but maybe the tone should have been checked prior to the words reaching the receiver. And before you know it, the proverbial line in the sand is drawn–how do you come back from that?

As Clarion Ledger’s Editorial Director David Hampton says, “Republican leaders made redistricting a line-in-the-sand issue. The GOP wants to control the House speaker’s position to put a lock on the legislative branch. The party also wants to be in control of the Legislature for congressional redistricting, which lawmakers will tackle next year.”

Advice #5: “Write about what frightens you. What you find perplexing. Disturbing. What breaks your heart. And what you wish you could change.” As Hampton says Democrats are to blame as well. And this leaves many nervous: from school districts to county supervisors and I could continue. The fear of the unknown, especially now, is perhaps too great a price for our legislators to take now because their political lives or elections are quickly approaching. A good friend of mine says, “they [legislators] punted to protect themselves.” So while redistricting may be fearful, frightening, or just difficult to deal with, the tough decisions in the end have to be made.

Advice #13: “You have to have conflict in your story. Even fairy tales and cartoons have them.” And so a little conflict and even complexity is what life is about. So when I speak those words out of fear, fright, or just plain ol’ rejection, let it simmer, think twice. But because a difference of opinions leads to a little conflict, that shouldn’t be the end of relationships. Hopefully, our legislators will recognize that as well. That a little conflict, which in my mind’s eye equates pluralism, leads to diversity of opinions and views. And yes, conflict will arise. But it is how we deal with that conflict that marks the courage of a woman or man. I am issuing a challenge to myself and to my legislators: the future is today, so let’s seize the moment.


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