Zee end

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The brush should be at a 45 degree angle as though bent into a strong wind. You want headway. Your pen takes orders from you, your hand its aegis. Never forget that.

Start at the left and trace your pen along an imaginary line. Keep your brush down and pull it steadily due right. Look straight ahead and don’t stop.

This is the easy part, by the way – the decision to start and then the straightaway – because after the initial push momentum, aided by longing and desire and certainty about where you’re going, becomes flow and you lean into this straight line because it starts everything.

The thing is, you could stop at this point and you’d have a dash. A dash is good, too. A purposeful pause. A tiny gasp. A by the by. But look. Is a minor mark your goal?

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On the other hand, if you stop here you’ll avoid the next step which is the hard part because you’re going to careen downhill and you might enjoy the adrenalin rush of a fast ride or you might lose your balance and fall but my advice is keep going and don’t look back.

Take a deep breath and without lifting your pen or changing its angle, scoot down and to the left again in a mathematically acute, gravitationaly imperative, psychologically fucked stroke.

Did you notice you’ve sunk below your starting point? You feel the smack of failure like a belly flop. Fear embalms you. But remember: this is the hero’s journey.

You delude yourself for a minute, think maybe you’ll be okay because it’s still a straight line, you’re still steady, still sure but you’re acutely aware how quickly you fell and that above you your heart is stuck to that flat line and drips blood while your gut sloshes about your feet and your large intestine forms a noose.

Stopping seems like the best plan. You admire the carefully crafted 7 on the page, but ask yourself: Do I want a number or a letter? This moment defines you.

Don’t move your pen yet. Don’t. Move. Don’t.


Keep moving in this direction and you’ll have nothing you wanted. The line will slide off the page, free-fall into hell. Trust me. I’ve restarted this letter so many times trying to make it right. Sure you can start over and over but if you don’t make a decision at this point you’ll screw up. Again. So concentrate. Hard. What is your next move?

Forty-five is a beautiful angle, isn’t it? Acuity counts but it’s not everything. Finish your shit. Finishit.

Push your pen forward again. See the end ahead of you? You can do it. Slow down but don’t falter. The line appears as you move. Magic. It is drawing your will. You’re in control again.

Now, stop.

Lift your pen.

Look at what you did. The last letter.  Your capital Z. No one else’s letter looks like yours.

You’re done. Congratulations.


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24 thoughts on “Zee end

    • Its really not difficult at all and its a great substitute for story crafting. I can pen a word and be please with the shape of it and say “Yay. Done.” which seldom happens when I write a story. I constantly tinker.


  1. Pingback: Are You Relevant? Am I? | The Village Healer

  2. This is a great metaphor/conceit for so many things, and I love how you composed this piece. Recently, I uncovered books, pens, and papers that I was using about 20 years ago while teaching myself calligraphy. I’d like to return to it.


  3. Superbly described! I didn’t know you practised calligraphy Susanne. Did you know Cynthia wrote this way too? I have a small piece she sent me on my art room wall and she always addressed mail in her beautiful calligraphic hand which must have been a joy for the postal people to handle. I loved how you made your journey in forming this letter resonate with the way life unfolds.


    • I knew Cynthia did calligraphy. I seem to recall she had a few samples on her “about” page. I’ve only started to learn and spent the month of April doing miniscules. I find it really satisfying but it is not at all easy joining letters into words. I find I’m concentrating so hard on individual letters that I often misspell words!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Holy moly! It’s all so clear to me know. I finally understand why they’ve stopped teaching cursive in schools here. Oy. Who knew it was so excruciatingly hard? (Loved your post, by the way!)


    • Calligraphy is very different than cursive writing which requires a fluidity. Calligraphy on the other hand is a step-wise process that doesn’t depend on doing the whole letter all at once. I actually find it relaxing!


  5. Love this. What a creative way to capture the creative process. I’ve always wanted to take up calligraphy–my handwriting is so horrible. Maybe, Someday.

    BTW, I just noticed your quote by Margaret Laurence. i haven’t read her for years but loved her short stories. I’ve never met anyone who had ever heard of her before till now. How did you come by her? I found her in a used book store long, long ago.


    • Margaret Laurence is a Canadian icon and The Diviners, the book where the quote comes from, a Canadian classic. It was required reading in a 1st year university CanLit course I took 40 years ago. I must reread it.

      I suspect you’d be good at brush calligraphy Deborah since you’re an artist. You build each letter stroke by stroke and not in one continuous movement so its quite different than cursive writing.


      • I’ll have to find a copy of her novel. I began re-reading some of her short stories last night set in Ghana and was amazed again at her writing. Margaret Atwood is another favorite. Lots of great writers up north!


        • As Margaret Atwood has said, Canada’s literary community definitely punches above its weight. I’m going to have to find Laurence’s short stories. Heigh-ho to the library I go!


    • Thanks, Manja. I’ll write it out in modern calligraphy and post it. Finishit would be a good blog name, eh? I think you’re a stupendous finisher. Look at all the poems you wrote last month!

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      • Hehe, yeah! Thanks. Incredible but did finish that one. Who’d figure? I feel a bit bad for the proper poets now… Impostor syndrome I hear it’s called. 😀 Your poem will look wicked in calligraphy!


  6. Interesting. I have a problem starting a creative project, fear that it won’t turn out like my vision. And I have a problem finishing projects, fear of messing up what I started and liked so far. That sounds like I never get anything done and I guess that’s accurate. But I have great ideas.


    • I have a hard drive FULL of first drafts, 2nd drafts, still borns and latents. I think its part of the process. Like you, I eventually finish something – just not everything. I agree it is hard to create the thing that is equal to the image in your head.


    • It makes me smile to know you smiled when reading my whimsy. I’m learning “modern brush calligraphy” and as I worked on the lower case “z” this bit o’ fluff attached itself to my brain. Definitely a metaphor for life, love, writing and lots of other experiences. Now, to take my own advice. So easy to dispense, not so easy to follow!

      Liked by 1 person

"The river flows both ways." (Margaret Laurence)

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