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Keeping It Short and Simple

The following article is my answer to The Sandbox Writing Challenge — Exercise 13


Keeping It Short and Simple (KISS)


Kelvin M. Knight

What can you do to simplify your life simpler?

On the surface of it, I thought my life was simplified. I do not mean to sound selfish or pompous, but after completing an MA in Creative Writing in 2014, I made a conscious effort to KISS all I did in my writing life, my working life, my home life.

However, our congenial host has asked us to dig deep in the sandbox this week, so, if you do not mind, I have brought along one (just one) of my many metallic garden spades to replace this tiny plastic sandcastle spade, which is actually looking quite worn and sad – it’s still bright though.

Holding this plastic sand spade aloft, I study its nicks and bends, its broken off corner, its twisted handle, the grainy grooves scratching away at its surface, which is when, I see its colours, as if for the first time. These purple and yellow colours ripple, as if they are waves. Waves rippling away from me. Waves rippling into me. Holding this plastic spade up the the sky, I ponder my writing life, my inner and outer life, and sigh, long and hard. Because I am still feeling guilty about wimping out on Exercise 10 – What makes you feel loved? Because, for no discernible reason, I have missed a couple of other exercises here. Where is my time flying to? Sighing again, I know, I KNOW, the real reason is because KISSing this and that is not working for me. Not anymore.

What I need is, ‘To do what I love and love what I am doing.’

Thinking of an epitaph for my gravestone (morbid, I know, but sometimes necessary) I do not know what you or others would write, I am not convinced I know what my wife would say after twenty-three years of marriage, but I would say:

Trial and Error.

Trial and error was my self-taught approach to software engineering – which earned me a comfortable living for twenty-two years. Trial and error was my approach to parenting, which has seen my children to university where they are standing on their own two feet. Trial and error was my approach these last seven years to learning how to pray, how to listen, to our Lord. Trial and error has been my approach to writing all my life. Because writing is re-writing. Because writing never comes our right first time, or second time, or often even third time.

However, now I am waving my worn plastic sand spade around like a baton, no, like a magic wand. Watching purple and yellow colours swirling and twirling, I feel my epitaph needs to say:

He loved his Trials and Errors. He Loves all of you.

How this is going to improve my writing, I do not know. How this will help my writing reach a wider audience with my stories, with these oceans of short stories and rivers of flash fiction stories I have written, along with the odd pond or two of novels, I do not know. But I do know, going forward, where love is involved, anything is possible and everything is always filled with hope.

Love's Mask.jpg



First and foremost I am a reader, then a storyteller. My reading tastes are eclectic. My writing can focus around the intimacy of closed settings and may tend towards characters who might be hiding something from themselves.

15 thoughts on “Keeping It Short and Simple

  1. (That’s the second James Baldwin quote I’ve come across in the last two days. I gotta look this guy up!)

    You know, Kelvin, there’s another quote your post made me think of. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.” Friedrich Nietzsche

    I had a friend, an English teacher, who worked with me during my 22 years as our church secretary. I was always complaining because my house was such a zoo, but my office at church was TOTALLY put together. Ruth told me it was often like that with creative people, that it wasn’t unusual for them to be chaotic in an environment they could let their guard down in — like at home. Maybe you’ve been stifling your creativity?

    Oh, and I DO know what I’ll put on my gravestone! “She was so busy regretting the past and fearing the future that she never took the time to live in the present!”

    Impromptu Promptlings

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Calen. I had not heard that quote. I like your personal anecdotes. You have led such an interesting life. I would wager, being a church secretary for so long, you have some interesting interesting stories. Your epitaph sounds sad but hopeful. I don’t think of you as a sad or regretful type of person. Certainly not in these posts and comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anyone that quotes James Baldwin is an automatic friend of mine. I like the way your writing swirls about, just as thoughts do as we think them. I find the movement of words and thoughts easier to process when they flow naturally.
    Being a bit of a rebel, the idea of form and forced structure grates at my sensibilities.
    I DO quite enjoy your stuff!

    Liked by 2 people

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