Good Thing I Can’t Do Everything

(For the T.S. Poetry Book Club hosted by the “thoughtful and amusing” Lyla Lindquist on Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing, by L.L. Barkat. Read Lyla’s thoughts and find links to other book club participants here.)


At a friend’s recommendation I read Ex Libris and wanted to write like Anne Fadiman. I heard Mr. Longo at the drums and wanted to play like Mr. Longo. I wanted to turn out cakes like Marcel Desaulniers, sing like Christy Nockels, break-dance like my nephew James, and write songs like Steve and Vikki Cook.

But I didn’t have the goods. Not like they did.

I have the mental understanding that this may not be the healthiest attitude, but the knowing often doesn’t translate to the really knowing—the living, the being, the feeling. For this, I need all the help I can get.

So I’m glad I read Rumors of Water.

Turns out, it’s okay—maybe even beneficial—that I can’t do everything.

As a writer, I have learned when a job needs to get done, there is little use fussing about the lack of necessary ingredients.… This is the secret of the prolific writer. To agree to use small beans and the ingredients at hand.
(L.L. Barkat, Rumors of Water, p. 34)

I first picked up this book because I have read Stone Crossings, and I will certainly read a book on writing if it’s written by the author of Stone Crossings! I wanted to read Rumors of Water because I wanted to grow as a writer.

Yet from the beginning, I recognized that from this book I could learn not only about writing, but about life. This is true of every section, cover to cover.

I didn’t foresee that a book on writing would help me in my faultiest thoughts and perspectives.

Barkat’s “secret of the prolific writer”—using the “ingredients at hand”—is also the secret of an effective, gifted member of the Body of Christ. God did not intend that I have the ability to do everything as well as everyone else. On the contrary, by God’s design and intent, it is good for me to have a lack. Many lacks. “Deficiency” is beneficial.

My refrigerator and kitchen cupboards do not contain everything from acai to zevengetijdeklaver, just as my vocal cords don’t vibrate like those of Christy Nockels. But I will do what I can, with what God has given me.

With that I will not only be content, I will be … prolific!


8 thoughts on “Good Thing I Can’t Do Everything

  1. Monica–it’s amazing to me how you wove so many things together to make this point so well. Another writer I found out about through Glynn Young is Mike Duran ( who wrote on this very same ‘use the beans you’ve got’ topic today. Paralleling it with lines from the film “Moneyball” he cites part of the dialogue:
    “I turned into a good hitter when I stopped trying to hit home runs.”
    and then wonders aloud for all of us:
    “I wonder if the same is true for writers. Instead of trying to emulate writing rock stars, why not stay within ourselves?”

    there is no one who can tell your story like you……….that’s the collective ‘you’ I’m talking about.

    nicely done!

  2. I think I’d like to read Stone Crossings…I’m just so behind on my booklist! Have you read Holley Gerth’s You’re Already Amazing yet? Would you like me to send you a copy? Full disclosure: I’m slow at working through it! Monica, I love hearing from you when your blog posts come to my inbox. I so appreciate your thoughtful, genuine, humble, true voice. It’s hugs to me.

  3. Monica, I love this. As amazing a voice as Christy Nockels has, can you imagine if everyone sang just like her? This is, truly, a book about life, in the guise of thoughts on writing. ;-)

  4. Pingback: This Mom Needs an Editor | Know-Love-Obey God

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