It’s Just Straw Paper

by Yvonne Lehman @YvonneLehman

Several of us go
out to eat after church on Sunday. Our number of available women varies.
Several who are accustomed to me, hand me the papers from their straws, and the
rectangles from around the napkins that holds their utensils. I make bows from
those papers and give them to the eaters or line them at the end of the table
for the waitress.

Some seem to
think I’m creative, but I think I’m just… let’s not say, “Bored,” but antsy,
need to do more than just sit and listen or talk. Also, I write with the TV on.
I need noise in the background. Makes my subconscious get into gear. And, my
fingers need to be moving.
Sunday, there
were only three of us. One was new to us, and did most of the talking. While she
talked, I flattened the paper, folded each side toward the middle making a loop
on each side, leaving two edges hanging down. I placed my index finger inside
each loop to fluff it out. Using condensation from my water glass, I wet my
finger and thumb, then pressed the middle to secure the bow.
Sometimes when I
do this, the sides aren’t even and I start over. Many times my first effort
with the water isn’t wet enough to secure the bow and the middle pops up.
Sometimes the bow is lovely upon first try. Not often, however. Generally,
putting that finishing touch with the water takes several attempts. But when
today’s bow was finished, I gently placed it toward the center of the booth
away from me, so I could satisfactorily observe my creation.
The other two
women didn’t notice or comment. To the constant woman, this was commonplace.
The new one was intent upon telling her story. I thought about what they did
with their papers.
The new woman
removed her straw, crumpled the paper and tossed it toward the center of the
table away from her. It lay sprawled in an ungraceful manner. The constant
woman rolled her paper around in the palm of her hand until it became a wadded ball.
Then she carelessly laid it aside, without any thought to it’s potential or my
needy hands. (I could excuse that since the new woman’s conversation was…revealing
– or, one might say, a story idea.)
So, while
waiting for my fried salt & peppered catfish and non-salt & peppered
non-crispy fried oysters, I looked at my bow that went unnoticed by my companions
or the waitress.
Those other straw
papers, having been abused or pampered, reminded me of the writing process.
If we don’t give our story ideas serious thought, it’s
like crumpling them and tossing them away.
We can have a
story idea in our hands, or heads, so to speak. It’s a good idea, but if not
given serious thought, it’s crumpled and tossed away.
We can have an
idea, hold it for awhile wondering if it’s of any value after all, roll it
around in our heads, but become distracted by something of interest at the time
and then carelessly lay it aside to be treated like trash.
The serious
writer, however, knows that nothing is just a paper idea. Something good can
come from this. I must fold, and smooth, and when it threatens to come apart, it’s
as if cold ice water is applied but eventually it warms and adheres and settles
into being a lovely little symbol of an idea worked into something that’s
symbolic of beauty and a piece of art.
Just straw paper?
No! A lesson
about life and how we handle situations, even writing a book, article, or
We might think
our story idea is like a flat piece of paper to be crumpled and tossed aside.
Or we can take that idea, work with it until it becomes something creative.
Sometimes, no one will notice. But there’s satisfaction in creating something
from what may seem insignificant. Sometimes, others will notice, laugh,
comment, and enjoy the moment.

What are you going to do with your… straw paper?

Yvonne Lehman is an
award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who
founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for
25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist
Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s
Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and
Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks
for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong
series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love,
Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013).
Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the