happy messy glory!

Savannah-born Johnny Mercer wrote these lyrics:

When an irresistible force such as you
Meets an old immovable object like me
You can bet just as sure as you live
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give
Somethin's gotta give!

I like Sinatra's version here. And Sammy Davis Jr.'s, here.  They're different arrangements, and both terrific.

This gem from the Great American Songbook played in my head this fall, as I thought about all that was on my plate, and about how my intentions were good, but I wasn't going to accomplish all I set out to do.

Maybe the new novel, brewing and asking for attention, was the irresistible force. Maybe it was the immovable object. At any rate, I traveled like a crazy person, to conferences, schools, and gatherings of all kinds, and used any inch of time leftover to be with the novel. That left no time for many things, including blogging.

I use the blog as a scrapbook, but I don't even have photos of most of November and December, that's how fiercely I kept my head down, trying to stay the course, trying to plow ahead.

So I'll settle for sharing some photos of the past two weeks. I came off the road on December 15 after spending a day working with teachers at Columbia University Teacher's College in NYC -- what a fabulous day that was! (How COLD it was in NYC!).

I got up out of my own good bed the next morning and found that I just could not face the page, not one more day. I couldn't do one more work-related thing. I couldn't. So... I put on an apron and gave myself a break.

And now? I'm ready to go back to work. But first, time to ring out an amazing decade.

Here I sit, with you, on the cusp of 2011. Ten years ago, I was also on the cusp of my publishing career. My first book, Freedom Summer, was published in January 2001. Ten years ago tonight, however, December 31, 2000, I sat in my living room in Frederick, Maryland, with a friend, in the twinkling Christmas-tree dark, holding hands, and holding back the tears... no, I cried. I cried buckets. I had become suddenly single after 22 years of marriage. My heart was broken. I was scared. I worried for my children. For all of us.

I was embarking on an adventure I could not have imagined, not in my wildest writerly dreams. Today I live in Atlanta. I have sold nine books in ten years. I have published six. I have earned my MFA, I have taught writing all across the country. I have learned how to make a living and manage my own affairs. I have put my daughter through college and have welcomed my sons to live in Atlanta. I have stumbled a lot. I have let go. I have learned to love again.

My children are grown... and glorious. I will spend this New Year's Eve alone, by choice. I will cherish the solitude. I will slowly undecorate the tree (Remember the tree? I still love its stories.). I will write "2010" on the bottom of the new ornaments that symbolize this year. I will put away Christmas. I will become ready for the new year.

I am a newlywed (does three years count as newlywed territory?). My musician husband will come home to me after his gig and we will sleep in late tomorrow, together. Later, my house will fill with friends and family, new and old traditions, laughter, stories, memories... history.

And I will go back to work on book two of the Sixties Trilogy. I'm ready to chronicle this journey with you -- I hope I can do it justice.

I'm ready to face the next ten years, too. I will remember to take it one day at a time. I have learned what Uncle Edisto tells Comfort to do in Each Little Bird That Sings: "Open your arms to life! Let it strut into your heart with all its messy glory!"

Yes. Messy Glory. Happy New Year, friends.

Happy Messy Glory.


  1. Oh, Debbie, I love this post. You are such an inspiration to me.

  2. Thank you, Barb. Much love to you. Happy New Year.

  3. Hey Deb,
    So glad you are back to your blog! Loved meeting you at Columbia! Happy New Year and best wishes as you forge on with the new book!

  4. Happy New Year, Debbie! I loved every minute at Columbia. My best to you --

  5. Love you, my friend. Yep - messy glory describes our lives; really everyone's. But there is much strength to be had in weathering mess and glory together. Bon chance and God bless. Love,Jan

  6. O! I was just this minute thinking of you, Jan. I have something to send you -- here it comes. xo

  7. YOU are wonderful! Let's get together soon. Thanks. xo

  8. What an inspiring post, from the photos to the reminder that some times we all need to remind ourselves of what's really important and give that our attention. Here's to another great decade!


  9. Hey there, Kathy. You help remind me when the going gets messy, eh? And I'll remind you. :> Happy New Year, and here's to what's most important. xoxo


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