By Ginny Cruz
Muddy roads are as common in the South as sweet tea and biscuits. While our food is more scrumptious to discuss, there’s something we, as writers, must have a chat about: how to deal with mud.
Sunday afternoons during my Mississippi childhood were for resting. The stores were closed—all of them. While Mama napped, Daddy and I loaded up in his green Datsun truck and took a long drive. Often, we’d head out on the red clay roads of De Soto National Forest. Little was said as we enjoyed the fragrance of the long leaf pines and allowed our minds to roam. The only goal on those drives was to avoid getting stuck in the mud.
As I reflect on those days driving around with Daddy, there are three lessons he taught me about dealing with mud that apply to our writing journeys.
The first lesson is to avoid mud holes. Daddy said, “Always go around the mud holes if you can, because you never know how deep they are.” As we write, we must be alert to mud holes or traps to our creativity. Things such as inadvertent beeps from the cell phone or email notifications can mire one down in a morass that blocks creative flow. I’ve learned to not allow distractions because, like a mud hole, I can get in so deep I can’t get back out.
The second lesson is to not let up on the gas when driving through mud. Daddy always advised, “Never stop moving or you’re stuck.” If you forgot to mute your phone and you lose your focus, just get back to the task of writing. Slowly press down on the gas pedal and, if necessary, rock the vehicle back and forth. To un-stick my writing, I write the phrase let go and let God over and over until my words gain traction.
The third, and final, way to handle mud is to be prepared for when you’re up to the axles and stranded. Daddy had a hand-operated winch and a CB radio. When we got mired in the mud, he’d hook one end of the steel cable on a pine tree and the other on the bumper and crank us out. If my writing gets bogged down, I hook onto my Bible. As my eyes read one verse of encouragement after the other, like the clicks of that hand operated winch, I ratchet myself forward. But…if the mud has sucked me too deep, I reach out to my writing friends. “Breaker 1-9, I need help.”
No matter what level of writer you are, take a lesson from my daddy and learn how to deal with mud. ’Cause when you live and write in the South, mud is a fact of life.
Now…back to our food. Have you tried Mississippi Mud pie?
Ginny Cruz’s Mississippi roots show in her common-sense lessons on life and faith. Whether she’s assisting families as a pediatric physical therapist or penning a blog post, she weaves a good story as she teaches. Her recently released book, Mud Holes and Magnolias, is a compilation of family stories and each one includes a spiritual lesson. She has written two children’s books: E is for Ellisville and Gracie’s Greatest Gift. Her weekly blog, The Boot, can be found on her website at ginnycruz.com. She’d love to connect with you on her social media platforms, all of which can be found on her website. She and her husband reside in Pensacola, FL. They enjoy many outdoor activities and are active in their church.