Tuesdays with Ana: A time to read, and a time to write

I’m not a huge fan of folk music, but one song has always tugged at my heart. “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)” by Pete Seeger is the sort of song that’s played on the radio, in films, and in many popular contexts. Add the Biblical text of the lyrics, and it’s a song that speaks to a broad range of people at key moments of their lives. Wikipedia tells me that twenty-nine artists and groups have performed a cover of the song, ranging from Tori Amos to Bruce Springsteen to Dolly Parton to The Byrds.

This recording of Mary Hopkin singing the song in Welsh (her native tongue) stopped me in my tracks. She recorded an English version of the song as an audition (when she was 18 and looked about 14) that’s sweet and shows off her voice, but the Welsh version is stunning. There’s a richness most singers have when using their native language, and it makes the purity of her voice shine even more. Also, the “Turn turn turn” always distracted me because the rest of the lyrics follow the Ephesians text exactly. 🙂 The “Tro tro tro” is less distracting.


“Turn! Turn! Turn!”

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late!

As you can probably tell from all of the book reviews lately, I’ve been reading a lot. Not beta reading for authors or helping aspiring authors to prepare manuscript submissions, nor research for my books, but genuine reading for the pleasure of reading. I’ve struggled with my latest work-in-progress for more days than I care to admit. A girl’s live-in girlfriend threatens to leave her for not coming out to her family, and things get messy. It’s a painful story to write, even though it’s a story of strength, hope, and learning independence. I love my main character and the story, but every freaking word is like a drop of blood squeezed from a stone. I’ve gotten myself into a panic more than once, wondering when I’ll ever finish this story.

Then, I remembered this song. I looked it up, listened to it, and relaxed. There is a time to read as well as a time to write. I wrote two and a half novellas plus part of a short story in the last month and a half. I worked 18-hour days, from the time I opened my eyes until I fell asleep in front of my computer. I became acquainted with every take-out restaurant in my neighborhood as I scrambled to meet deadlines.

Foolishly, I thought I’d set my new normal pace. I thought I could keep it going, until my psyche said no. I’ve read more books for pleasure in the last three weeks than in the last three years. Perhaps more. That stuns me. I, who used to read ten books in a weekend? I, who merited a rebuke from my school librarian for complaining at the terrible, awful, unreasonably stingy limit of four books per student at a time?

I used to live a thousand lives in a year, and I’ve found myself reduced to one. One cramped, sore-wristed, stressed-out life of pounding away on a computer keyboard to create stories that never live up to my expectations. I get myself into such a frenzy that I refuse to go out, take care of everyday details, or socialize with anything but my computer. In essence, I forget to live.

When we stop living, we have nothing left to write. I think that sometimes, our writing fire goes out because we’ve forgotten to feed it with logs, twigs, or even kindling.

I’d like to finish this darn WIP as soon as I can, but for now I will read. I have a new book written by two of my favorite authors from childhood. Plus a naughty new book from one of my favorite spanking authors.

I wish this were a time to write, but it seems to be a time to read. I’m off to enjoy my new books today (after tying baby quilts with my favorite quilting grannies). What kind of time is it for you today?


22 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Ana: A time to read, and a time to write

  1. abby says:

    I have always loved that song, more for the message i heard in it than anything else. We should not feel guilty about enjoying the various times…turns….in our lives…we need them all. I think i needed to be reminded of that..thanks.
    hugs abby


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oh, gosh, I can’t concentrate on movies. When did they become so darn long! In the theater, I check my watch constantly. I like to watch them at home so I can wash dishes, fold laundry, etc. at the same time. Enjoy!


  2. annapurna1951 says:

    Burnout has far-reaching effects. Resting may be your best course.

    Once rested, try dropping your expectations. Your inner critic may be an impediment.

    Given your fast writing ability, try this:

    1. List three ways to move your story forward.

    2. Identify your story’s sticking point.

    3. Of the three possibilities, choose a path that best moves your plot past the obstacle.

    4. Have confidence in your choice and quit worrying about perfection.

    I apologize in advance if my suggestions seem simplistic, mechanical, or impertinent.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      “May”…not hardly. 🙂 I find that the best method is to go old-school. Write 5 words, 50, 500. I usually think in chapters and books, but I have to pull back.

      And to stop worrying about perfection will never happen, sadly. Sigh. I wish!


      • annapurna1951 says:

        Hmm…Stubborn are you? Is this how you get into trouble?

        My background is tech writing. Burnout is not a luxury. The choice is simple: write or push a shopping cart. I sure hope you’re not in the same basket, but if you’re a professional creative writer, and of course you are, welcome aboard the slave ship!

        Come on; lighten up on the perfection side, if you can. Now, that’s a sweet request, said with a lot of humility.

        I just finished reading Desire in Any Language! OMG! Don’t leave me hanging this way! What happens next? I demand a sequel! You dropped me right into Mira’s inner process. How, exactly did you do that? It was a real page-turner. You handled all the scenes with grace and delicacy. I plan to re-read and take notes for my review, a glowing one it will certainly be.

        Thank you; you’re so sweet! I’m just beside myself. (Think of Snoopy dancing with abandon.)


        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          There is a sequel, silly! It’s Mira’s Miracle. 😀 And I am so glad you liked Desire! It is one of my very favorites. How sweet of you to write a review. Much appreciated. The sequel is…ahem…a bit naughtier.

          And now I can’t quite squawk about calling me trouble!

          I’ve got a post coming up tomorrow about a big breakthrough I made today with writing. 🙂



          • annapurna1951 says:

            How did I miss it! It must be my dyslexia. I think it’s only fair that if I’m taking care of your expectations, and apparently doing a poor job of it, that you babysit my dyslexia and poor spelling. They’re naughty twins you know.

            I love naughty! How did you know, you little devil? I always knew you were the mischievous type. You have a lot of company; I’m sure.

            I read your sweet post. I’m so happy about your breakthrough! I’m still teary about it.

            By the way, I just purchased Mira’s Miracle. Wow! I’m just a little envious of her, and don’t ask me to put any finer point on that comment. First, though, I want to re-read Desire in Any Language.

            Is there any way for me to share my review with you before I post it? Thanks!



  3. minellesbreath says:

    Sometimes we need the distraction of real life and the many pleasures we miss. That is how summer vacation used to be experienced. We’d take a break away from formal schooling and wile away the hours reading or day dreaming. We’d return to school growing in so many ways!
    That is what you are experiencing! Your sub conscience is active, don’t worry. You will come out of this time writing a better story!


  4. catrouble says:

    Thank you so much Ana for sharing this beautiful song…I’ve always loved it in English also and now I get to love it in Welsh as well. You need the break…when you are ready, the words will be pouring out of you faster than you can get them down. 😉

    Am here if there is anything I can do for you.

    Hugs and Blessings…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’d never heard Mary Hopkin before, but I loved this version. I’m still waiting for the words to pour out! Every time I hope I can increase my productivity, I crash and burn. I wish I could write slow and steady like a real grownup for once.


  5. Roz Harrison says:

    Hi Ana, I love this song, thank you for sharing it with us. Such a great message in this song. A time for everything … and right now seems to be reading time for you. You will return to writing when the time is right and I too bet you will end up with an even better story.



  6. annapurna1951 says:

    Mary Hopkin’s rendition is, without a doubt, exquisite for the utter sweetness of her voice and the depth of her emotion. The Welsh language is certainly up to the task, making this recording the one I would choose easily for dinner guests, if I were ever lucky enough to have any. However, my sentimental favorite is still the cut from the Byrds’ Turn! Turn! Turn! album of 1965. I’ve heard their interpretation so often it’s become a memory engram for me.

    I’m curious, though, about one thing unrelated to this topic: what, exactly, is your blog moniker? I realize your name is not “Ana,” short for “Anastasia,” but others have referred to you by that shortened name, and even your About Page uses it. Therefore, you confused me when you said, “Consistency, thy name is NOT Ana.” Admittedly, others can easily fool me because I’m naïve, and sometimes I see things that aren’t there because I have dyslexia. Notwithstanding those limitations, I have yet to figure out what you meant.

    That’s enough about names—almost. If you don’t mind, I’ll call you Ana, like everyone else, so don’t get mad if I do, please?

    The Turn! Turn! Turn! song uses the passage of time and the turning of the seasons to connect polar opposites and to restore the balance between them. Applied to writing, two opposites come to mind: work/play and writing/editing.

    With the recent, unfortunate events in your life, which I hope have been resolved successfully, you probably had no other choice but to work exceedingly long hours to meet all your obligations, especially your story and blog writing. It’s not humanly possible to work eighteen-hour days and subsist on takeout for very long. So, Ana, you need to rest and play, but you already know that well. Your decision to read already shows that you’re restoring the balance in your life.

    However, there’s still the issue of writing and editing.

    It would appear your editor, or expectations, has become out of balance with your writing and source of creativity. It’s time to restore that equilibrium as well.

    In that spirit, I’ve talked with your expectations, figuratively of course, and she has agreed to spend some time away from you at my place. It wasn’t easy, you know. At first, she threw a tizzy-fit, and then became demanding. I told her she would have ample time for editing your work, but much later, and under no circumstance was she to disturb you right now. It also helped that I had a plate of gingersnaps and a big glass of milk. I didn’t want her wandering all over my house or looking over my shoulder while I wrote this reply. I hope you understand. She has many opinions you know, but I can handle it. I gave her my manuscript, and she’s having a field day of it. You can’t imagine how happy she is.

    So, enjoy your short vacation and let me know when you want her back.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Actually, I was wondering the same thing for you. Annapurna seems to be a character so…do you go by Anna?

      Yes, I go by Ana. Anastasia Vitsky is how I’m known professionally, and most people do call me that when we first meet. I usually associate “Anastasia” with being in trouble, though. Our dear friend Bas, who is no longer with us, used to tease me about that endlessly. Of course you can call me Ana. 🙂 And shall I call you Anna?

      You were very sweet to talk with my dastardly devil-on-my-shoulder. The naughty thing has managed to still pester me while visiting you…not a small feat. Still, I’ve gotten some writing done and hope to finish Ciara and Audra’s tale soon. 🙂

      If nothing else, you can spank her with a shoe. 😀


  7. annapurna1951 says:

    Yes, please call me Anna. It’s a nice name. Annapurna is both the Hindu goddess of the harvest and an eight-thousand-meter-peak in the Himalayas. It’s a mouthful to say and write. I focus more on the harvest side because of the love and bounty that sweet connotation brings. It reminds me of a dinner table full of food, with family and friends gathered.

    Over a plate of gingersnaps, I would love to learn more about the association between Anastasia and trouble. Just exactly what kind of trouble do you get in? Now, me, I never ever get into any kind of trouble. Nope. I was born a complete angel—honest. Just ask my second grade teacher.

    You must miss your friend’s teasing. I feel a note of finality about Bas and her absence. I hope my feelings are wrong.

    Your expectations are especially naughty. No sooner had I invited her in she was canvassing my home, checking for dust, and making sure I had washed the curtains and cleaned the stove prior to her arrival. After wiping a small countertop in the corner, one I had missed, she presented her dust-capped fingertip for my inspection, and then demanded an explanation, the nerve of her, and me being the only adult in the room. Well, it didn’t take long for her to discover what an easy mark, I am. She claimed I would never spank her with that old shoe, the one you had sent along with her. She might be right about that, but I still have a hand and know how to use it. Anyway, that message seemed to quiet her down long enough for me to explain further that you needed a small break. I told her that you loved her very much and would need her assistance very soon. Those words, I think, took most of the sass out of her, at least long enough for us to make a pot roast dinner.


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