I’ve Given Up Not Writing for Lent

By Martha Henry

I’ve given up not writing for Lent. I haven’t written consistently for months, so this is a sacrifice. I intend to not not write religiously for the next 40 days. 

I grew up going to an Episcopal church. When Lent began, we kids were handed cardboard boxes to fill with coins by Easter. The boxes were the same size as a box of animal crackers. On Easter, there was a moment in the service when the kids came forward with their Lent boxes. When you handed your box of money to the minister, he’d give you a small potted coleus plant in return. It didn’t seem like a very fair trade.

Though the act of giving up something for Lent was more of a Catholic thing, my mother liked the tradition. She was often trying to lose weight, so she’d give up something fattening. My brothers and I were encouraged to join her in abstention. If we succeeded, she’d buy us a lobster dinner at the airport restaurant that overlooked the runways.

My brother Douglas sometimes gave up chocolate and could carry it through until the end. It must have made the chocolate bunny in the cellophane grass taste all the better on Easter morning. I’d give up potato chips, but forget my resolution and buy at bag of Ruffles on the way home from school. I’d enjoy their salty crunch until I gasped, remembering my now broken pledge. I was too honest to fake not succeeding. Though my intention was good, my follow-through was lacking, sporadic, amateur.

This March I could have given up not meditating, or not going to the gym, but not writing is much more of my identity. I run into people I knew years ago and they ask, “Are you still writing?” I answer, “No.” Nothing could be more important to me than not not writing.

Double-negatives are built to confuse. By not not writing, I hope to bamboozle myself into the consistency I’ve lacked of late, or perhaps all my life. I could make excuses. I have a full-time job and, until recently, a boyfriend who couldn’t bear to spend a moment alone. But mostly, okay entirely, it’s because I just didn’t get down to it. I didn’t do it.

Let’s define doing it:

Do • ing • it – writing for at least an hour a day for the next 40 days, regardless of whether the words are flowing or I feel I have something to say.

The end of Day Eight and I’m still on track. Wish me luck. I expect to be eating lobster stew on April 20th.

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About the Author

Martha Henry’s essays have appeared on the Tricycle website and in The Cambridge Chronicle. She is just getting back to writing after a long time away.

See other articles by Martha Henry
by Martha Henry


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