Write it anyway.
This week, my artist friend Polly LaPorte (pictured above) delivered a portrait of my Grandpa Bates Jackson. I was thrilled to see the way she captures his essence, with a slightly modern slant, a farmer standing in front of a truck full of cotton, his hat jaunty, nice watch on his wrist, a direct gaze conveying his Clark Gable confidence. We’ll hang it in the Morro Bay vacation home Bates bought and shared with the rest of the family, so we always remember the roots of our favorite place.

But when she dropped off the painting, Polly also inadvertently gave a boost to the writing/editing I am doing now on book three (with a new name–Poster Girl).

She said, “It was time to paint this and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. I’d had a hard time in a workshop, had trouble getting things the way I wanted, trouble reaching my viewer the way I wanted. I was dragging my heels on starting a new project.”

But she told herself, “This doesn’t have to be good. Just begin. Just line it out.”

Giving herself that permission, she did begin. She said, “In the act of lining it out, something opened up in me and I felt Bates guiding my work, telling me how to do it.”

This had never happened to Polly before, though I’m not surprised my grandpa would reach out to guide her–the man had opinions.

After Polly left, I thought about my own foot-dragging, my self-doubts about the section I was writing, and I decided to follow Polly’s advice:

This doesn’t have to be good. Just begin. Just line it out.

And you know what? That freed me up to make progress. I like what I wrote, though I began it in a dark mood. Polly was right.