Teetering on the Brink

(Wherein I succumb to some self-indulgent whining, and tongue in cheek sarcasm — because I can.)

Last time we looked, I was standing on the precipice preparing to jump. 

The wind whipped around me as I stood on the edge.  I had everything I needed, and faced the leap with a combination of excitement, terror, anticipation . . . did I say terror?  All that remained was the jump itself.  I peered down —

“Hey, Schwengel.”

I edged a little closer.  Should I get a running start, or just throw myself into the unknown, spreading my arms like wings?  Or maybe a graceful, rolling tumble?

“You might want to look at this first.”

I turned to glance over my shoulder.  The Sage of the South stood there, he held my manuscript in one hand, and gestured me over to him with the other.

“But, I’m all set to leap,” I complained, without moving.

“Fine.”  He shrugged, and flicked the manuscript closed.  “I’ll meet you at the bottom.  You can buy me a drink, and on the way back up I’ll explain why nobody caught you.”

“Why nobody caught — but I stuck a fork in it!  I proclaimed it done!  I.  Am.  Done.”

“Shee-ure, if you want to settle for ‘okay’, strictly your choice.”

He turned away, and I looked for a rock to throw at his head.  How dare he?  The climb had been hell; years of scrabbling up the slopes, inch by inch.  How many times had I slid backwards, scraping my knuckles raw, only to dig in and continue on until finally reaching the summit?  And now — NOW — he calls me away?  He waits till I get HERE to tell me not to jump yet?

Let me tell you, this writing thing is no walk in the park.  If you’re thinking of being a writer, and you haven’t started, don’t!  Run.  Run away as fast as you can and don’t look back.

(That was a test.  If you just threw your pen and notebook in the garbage and made like a rabbit, you failed.  If, like me, you absolutely can’t stop, even if you want to, congratulations — I think.)

“What you have here is good,” the Sage continued.  “But it needs a little tweaking yet.”

I frowned, and though I turned away from the edge, I didn’t leave it.  Not yet.  He couldn’t be serious?  The look he gave me over the top of his glasses told otherwise.  Still, I resisted.

“Let me see it.”  I plopped my backside onto a rock and held out my hand.  The Sage obliged.

“Needs more tension,” he said.

“I’ll tell you what needs more tension,” I muttered under my breath.

“Would you rather I just give you a pat on the head and a hip check off the edge?” he asked.  “Watch you bounce off the rocks all the way down before you climb up and try it again and again?  With any luck at all, that hard head of yours will connect with a boulder and knock some sense into you.”

I waved a backhanded gesture at him as I perused my precious tome.  “Blah, blah, blah.”

I didn’t want to look.  I wanted to leap.  I had reached a point of contentment with my manuscript.  A sense of completion.  If I kept picking at it I’d never stop.  I’d become the brother of a friend.  He’s been a lifelong scholar of many different callings with never once graduating from any of them.

Unfortunately, the Sage has a nasty habit of being right.  This thoroughly irks me.  Even when I want to argue a point, I can’t.  (Although, I have been told by an attorney friend that I can, actually, argue anything, and should have pursued a career in law.)

My frown deepened.  Many colorful words filled my mind.  None of them all that polite so I won’t repeat them here.  Once again, I was forced to concede that the Sage had a valid point.  I gazed longingly over my shoulder at the precipice I had worked so hard to conquer.

“You’ll be back up here in no time,” he said, as he guided me to my feet, placed a hand between my shoulder blades and shoved me ahead of him.  “Now, get busy.”


(In all seriousness, I am very fortunate to have Josh Langston, the Sage of the South, in my corner, even though he shares quite a few traits with Sheldon Cooper.  He has pushed me to become a better writer — and to drink — but mostly to stop being lazy and write to the best of my abilities — and drink.)

Write on!


  1. I am *so* looking forward to the book you’ll write *after* BD&L. It’s going to showcase your self-deprecating humor and the one-liners that make reading your work so much fun. Granted, it’ll be a less than subtle shift in genre, but you’ll take to it like a skeeter to a city kid at camp.

    • I’m getting pushed to write about my lovely work exploits. The problem being, I could only do that if I could also quit. Somehow, these people would know I was writing about them!

  2. Oh, what a wonderful post. I want a Sage of the South, a Josh Langston, or even a Sheldon Cooper! Lucky you!!

  3. As much as I feel for you, Kathi, I’m with Devin! I want one! I’m a good way into your last draft and loving it, so I can’t wait to see what’s changed next.

    • They’re rare, and hard to come by. I’m extremely fortunate to have wandered into the IMPire one day in the early ’90s. That’s where I found him, and a few others (but none quite like him). Glad you’re enjoying BD&L. The changes will be minor — I think.

  4. Oh this was wonderful I enjoyed it very much!

  5. It can be incredibly difficult to listen a friend tell you that what you’ve done isn’t good enough – yet. It’s just as hard to be the friend telling it to you.

  6. I love your humour. And I know more changes are hard to face. But when they are done you will feel better for it. Good luck.

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