Hannah L Stone

this is where I write the light
15 minutes later

15 minutes later

Late on the second work day in Rwanda Jimi, our leader, asked us a simple enough question.

“Do you think we can clear this pile in 15 minutes?”


See that back left corner?  Yep, that one.  To be fair it had been broken down more.  But there was still a lot. I mean a lot of debris to clear.

So he asked, “Do you think we can clear this pile in 15 minutes?”

Those of us who were next to him when he asked it, we said yes.

An hour later the sun started to slip, my pace was starting to slow, my loads were getting a little bit smaller than they had been to begin with.  But we had not been told to stop, so we kept working.  15 minutes had long past.

I was thinking about all of that this morning.  Because right now in my life there is a pile in the corner and it feels a little bit scary and also very insurmountable to me.  You see, I wrote a children’s book and for the past few months have been looking for a literary agency to represent me in getting it published.  I’ve sent out query letters and heard nothing back.  Then I found an agency that had a slightly different process.  Before I can even send a query letter I need a recommendation from one of their listed published authors.  I read their bios and selected one, wrote her and she agreed to read my story.  She wrote back saying she would be pleased to lend her name to my query letter to the agency and offered me some advise as well.  She said in order to be seriously considered I should write up a marketing strategy and also try to increase my social media footprint.

That is the insurmountable pile in the corner for me.

To be honest I have no idea how to write a marketing strategy or how to increase my social media footprint.  I have questions about what that means or looks like, because really, it’s me and pictures of my kids and random things I write.  I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with social media.  I love staying in touch with people in my life.  I have no idea how to the play the game of it, I’ve never known how to play the game of anything really.  Maybe these are introverted problems?

But here is what I wast thinking this morning and how on earth it ties into moving ruble in Rwanda for a lot longer than 15 minutes.

Jimi asked a rhetorical question to us and we said yes.  Did we really think we could move all that in 15 minutes?  No, not really.  I think we thought we’d be allowed to walk the path of least resistance.  Meaning we’d work for 15 minutes and he’d tell us to stop even though there was still work left to be done.  Did we get the whole pile cleared away?  No, but we came really close and a lot closer than only 15 minutes would have afforded us.  Did we work longer than 15 minutes?  Yes we did.  Was it hard?  Sure.  Were we already tired.  I know I was.  Did I keep working?  Yes, and the reward of stopping for the day was given at some point.

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I think, even when I sign up for hard work, or unknown work (like what it might take to actually get a book published) I want the path of least resistance.  I do tend to simplify things, because that is how I like to operate.  My equation is write a book + find an agency = have book published.  And maybe that is a path I will find.  And maybe the path I am on at the very infancy stages with this current agency is the path that will stretch and grow me and probably make me grumble a little or question myself along the way, but also the path I am supposed to take.  Because the question right now is, do I want to try to get this story published?  Yes I do.  Is it insurmountable?  It feels like it could be.  But so did that 15 minutes of clearing.  Did we all actually think Jimi was going to tell us to stop after 15 minutes, instead of having us dig deeper and finish stronger?  I think so.  Were we pushed a little?  In the best way possible yes.  So our equation of working for 15 minutes was not a reality just like my simple, easy peasy equation of getting a book published might not be a reality.  But the work got done.  Our path of least resistance was not realized, but the work got done – and it got done well and set up the next day of work far better than leaving it undone the day before.

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