Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 25, 2010


Three wishes, three clicks of the heels, three bears, three blind mice, three chances: we see the number in fairy tales often enough, but now I’m conscious of living among three major projects. Borrowed Names is a book due to appear next month. Another, Conversations with the World, is a manuscript with my editor, and like the first has its bubbles and clouds of hope and anxiety around it. It’s probably the third project, a new book I’m writing, that keeps me in balance. For at least part of the day I can feel playful and confident in a place where mistakes don’t matter. I’m free to try new words and even new styles of writing. I’ve always moved forward slowly, but on a recent whim I tried whipping my way through a page and came up with paragraphs interesting enough to slowly revise.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m ricocheting between the three corners, dizzy with thoughts of what might be on a reviewer’s desk, what might be on my editor’s, and what’s on my own. Sometimes the three corners collide, and I can feel the vulnerability feed the creativity, and the creativity soften what feels uncertain. Almost always. I’m grateful for the way what’s on my desk or lap calls for my attention. Here’s something I can change, which helps keep me from obsessing –too much – about what I can’t.



  1. It’s a mixed blessing, isn’t it, to have so many exciting things vying for your attention? On the one hand, diversions help keep things light and breezy. If I work too hard/concentrate on one thing for too long, the air gets oppressively heavy and stale. But on the other hand (and I’m guessing there are more hands to this than two), the Rule of Three doesn’t guarantee that all sides of that triangle are equal. Therein lies the crux of the issue (at least for me): balancing our heart’s desires against outside expectations. Wishing you all the best in finding/maintaining that balance. ((HUGS))

  2. It’s so different from having only one thing to work on–which, for years, was my way. Most of the time, I’m happier with this–and, yes, grateful. Every now and then…whoa! 🙂

  3. Three . . . is a magic number.
    “What I tell you three times is true,” said Lewis Carroll.

  4. Thanks for your hugs and grace and wisdom, Melodye.

  5. Happily, I just finished ( I think) a fourth project, so I’m enjoying the lightness. But you are absolutely right.
    Just got the Critique Survival Guide and look forward to curling up with it this weekend. (I’m always a bit late on this things somehow, or at least it seems so in blogger time! my reading is old school)

  6. Thanks, Kelly.
    And I think the next time I teach children’s lit, I need to get you to Mass. to take over Alice in Wonderland. It’s not my favorite, so I don’t do it the justice you would.

  7. True. But it can also be an ominous sign. (frx: when the cock crows three times, watch out!)

  8. I’m delighted that you’ve got so much cooking — it bodes well for us readers! And I’m glad for your own sake that you’re able to dig into the new project. When I can do that, it really helps me deal with the anxieties of publication. It’s hard to obsess about one book when your mind is deep in another one (though I’m good at obsessing the minute I stop work for the day).

  9. I have to echo Amy here and say how wonderful that you have so much going on for us readers. Bravo!
    And I’m so glad to hear that you tried something new and came up with some gems after whipping through a page. To me, that’s quite an accomplishment.
    I imagine what’s on your desk or lap that calls for your attention is all your creativity and passion looking for expression. Those ricocheting thoughts can’t cover that for long, I’m sure!

  10. Yes, it’s good to step back into the cave or kitchen where it all begins, and there’s always hope and mystery. I’m lucky that the crunchy time of what will I do now? didn’t last long.

  11. Lorraine, thank you for all your sweet words.
    I’ve got to try that fast-writing again! It was fun to be in a mind that didn’t feel quite like mine for a quick spin.

  12. I really enjoyed this entry, and your thoughts on vulnerability feeding creativity and creativity softening what feels uncertain. I’ve been playing with poetry in the past few weeks, especially, because I found that I needed — really needed — to feed my soul with creative writing of some type, but wasn’t ready to begin another novel quite yet (I’ve written three middle-grade novels, none yet published, and had just finished the first draft of the latest one before Christmas). But it’s winter, and the editing work that I do full-time, for a healthcare finance magazine, can be dry sometimes, and between that and raising three kids and dealing with the loss of an income at home (my husband’s), I needed that release, and I’m grateful to have found it in poetry, which I used to love to write in high school. Here’s to the creative currents that sustain us! 🙂 Happy Friday!

  13. How wise you are to know you needed poetry, and how brave to move right toward it during a hard time. Someone in my critique group has been dealing with rejections, and turned back to writing poetry wanting for a time to have words that would be just hers, and this helped her feel so much stronger. Good luck to you with everything (including winter!)

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