Thursday, March 1, 2018


"You don't have to write every day, you know."

I look at Stacey in alarm. This seems a little heretical. Especially from the founder of the Slice of Life. We have been writing together for the past nine years. In February, Stacey came to Denver to present at our state's annual reading conference, and we met face-to-face for the first time.

Stacey continued, "You've done it once. Written all 31 days. Actually, probably several times. You've proven that you can do it. You don't have to write every single day. You could just slice some of the days."

I have been pondering these words for almost a month now. I don't have to write every day. I could just slice some of the days? Is that really an option?

I've done the March slicing challenge for each of the past eight years. Most years, I have done all 31 days. A couple of years something has come up-- one year I dropped my computer and it was in the shop, so I missed a few days. Another year I drove to Phoenix to see my granddaughter, got caught in a snowstorm on the way back, and didn't quite finish slicing. But most years I've sliced all 31 days.

Why this conversation then?

I was telling Stacey that I might not slice at all this year. I am not sure I have thirty-one interesting slices left to write.

Over the years, I have written hundreds, or maybe thousands, of slices. Slices about my sons-- stories of how our very non-traditional family became a family, my struggles as a single mom, my less than successful attempts at pushing my guys out of the nest and into adult life. It disturbs me, more than a little, that my guys are in basically the same place that we were two years ago. I'm not sure I want to write any more slices about that.

I've also written many slices about my mom, and her struggles with the aging process. That's ongoing and probably will be for a while. But I'm not sure I want to write about it.

I'd love to write more slices about my granddaughter Esveidy, but  she's moved all the way to North Carolina. I almost never see her and don't have a lot to say.

I could write about teaching, but there are only so many cute kindergarten and melodramatic middle school stories that people want to read.

I'm still learning Spanish. But I have written about that lots of times. Soy una vieja. Mi mente es terrible. No estoy aprendiendo muy rapido.  (I'm an old woman. My mind is terrible. I'm not learning very fast). 

I'm looking for new hobbies. I've begun volunteering with a service dog organization, and I might become a puppy parent to a service dog in training, but that hasn't happened yet.

And I keep thinking that I should volunteer at the zoo, or the museum, or the Botanic Gardens, but I haven't actually gotten around to doing it.

I just don't know, then, if I have 31 interesting stories left to tell.

At the same time, I have been slicing for eight years. I have met many fabulous people from all around the country. Some- Elsie, Ramona, Tara, Linda, Michelle, Cathy, Nancy and so many others- slice all year. Others slice only in March.  I can't imagine not slicing, and not connecting with those folks.

I have also loved getting to know new people all around the world. For the past three or four years, I've served on the Welcome Wagon, a group of slicers that volunteer to "welcome" the new folks. We visit their blogs every day. Comment on people's stories. Encourage them to keep writing. And it feels like a really special way to pass the writing torch to a whole new generation of writers.

I can't imagine NOT participating in Slice of Life.

So I'm slicing again. I don't know if I have 31 slices to write, but I'm going to give it my best shot.

And I'm going to remember Stacey's wise advice.

I don't have to write all 31 days.

And this year, I might not. 

11 comments: said...

You have a bunch of slices in this one slice, so I'm willing to bet you have 31 slices in you! :-)
That said, I had the same thoughts before signing up this time.... Do I really have 31 slices to write again? I'm on year 5, and I feel like maybe I've written all the slices I can write... what if I start repeating observations and stories? But, I'm going to give it a go... glad you are too!

Anonymous said...

What freeing advice from Stacey! That said, I can't imagine you NOT rising to the challenge. Those of us who have not read your slices before will love any and all stories. And since rereading a book is a good thing - so is retelling a story. I've thought of a couple old stories that I want to pull out and tell from a different viewpoint or change the format just to see "how" it works differently. I look forward to 'seeing" you more this month and I'm so grateful that we connected at CCIRA!

elsie said...

Please do slice, your words matter. Someday, I will be visiting Denver and you are on my list of slicer I have to meet in my lifetime.
I'm so sad that your granddaughter has moved so far away from you. I know what it's like being far from the littlest one you love the most.
Your stories will come, just keep watch.

Chris said...

I'm SO glad you sliced, Carol! I have your blog on my list, so I stopped by to say HI! I have learned so much from your slices, and I look forward to reading more. Happy March!!

Elisabeth Ellington said...

SO glad you're slicing! I feel the same way about stories about my son. He will make appearances, as he does in my slice today, but I'm just not sure I can write any more slices about him. Parenting slices feel like Groundhog Day to me! I'm worried about repeating myself this year. Writing yet another slice about the animals on the prairie, writing in coffee shops, my writer's notebook, etc. How can so little change in my brain every year? It makes me worry about myself! But still, I'm here and trusting that something will come to me. And Stacey's advice has got me thinking: we know we can do 31 slices; we've done it before. So if we don't make all 31, that's maybe ok?? (Feels heretical to me too!).

Karen Szymusiak said...

I am so glad you are slicing this year! I will look forward to reading your messages. This is such a great way to connect with other writers. You have much to say and much to share.

Chris Margocs said...

I'm glad you jumped in, whether it's for the long haul or not! Here's hoping your Muse lands on your shoulder each and every day, if that is the path you are destined to take this time.

Michelle said...

Carol, I'm glad you are here and writing. I know you have stories to share. Little moments from our ordinary lives. I say aim high - let's go for 31! It wouldn't be a challenge if we didn't try, right? Happy writing!

Ramona said...

i totally get your worries that you might not have 31 interesting stories to tell! But I'm so glad you're here. I worry about writing the same slices over and over too. Some day I hope we can meet in person! But until then, SOL provides so many points of connection.

Deb Day said...

I'm glad you are back and writing. I have thought the same thing so many times. But here I am, ready to go again. It's hard to not write in March, isn't it?

Cathy said...

I always love stopping by your blog. You give me so much to think about. Last year, I fell apart in the Slice of Life Challenge. I just couldn't do it. There was too much happening, and finding a slice was really not working for me. So...I let it go. Honestly, it was hard and I still regret it a bit, but the world kept spinning. It was what it was.

This year, before beginning, I looked back through my years of participation. I honestly couldn't believe how many stories there were over the years. Even last year, which seemed like I quit on day 2, had fifteen slices. That's a lot of stories that would have been lost for sure. So, this year, I'm going to try again. I feel a little better about my ability to make it through the challenge, but I still worry. The truth is, I learned that I can stop if I need to, but I also know the reward of continuing.

We'll cheer each other on this March. (BTW, I think I saw a plethora of ideas in your first slice. Happy writing!)

Here we go!!!