Learn more about WriteOut, a writing camp for teens founded by Ally.

writing: what cannot be fixed

On Sunday night, my oldest came into the house in a panic. “There’s a bird outside,” he said. “I think it’s really hurt.”

It was, the worst kind of hurt. It was dead. It had gotten its foot stuck in one of our cheap plastic outside chairs and couldn’t get out and, I suppose, starved to death.

When my son found out the bird was dead, he was inconsolable. The tears were real and he had so many regrets. “Why didn’t I go outside and hear the bird chirping before it died? Why couldn’t the bird get its foot out when it was able to get it in?”

He wanted to go back in time. Because he knew that he could have saved the bird, if he’d just known. There was a time when all could be made right, but now the little bird fell into the category of gone, lost, past help or repair.

The two of us hugged and cried for a while, while my husband took care of the little body and put the chair into the trash so it could never hurt another bird. And I knew that my son was crying for the bird, and I was crying for that and for other things. For his pain and for the fact that I couldn’t fix this for him. For the year that we have had, which, while fantastic professionally, has been a hard one personally for reasons quite outside of all of our control. As a parent it is the hardest thing of all to see your child suffer and know that you are powerless to take it away. You can ease and help and be present. But I can’t bring birds back to life. I can’t take away some of the things that have happened and will continue to happen in my boys’ lives.

This morning, as I took a deep breath and opened up the document that is my work in progress, I thought that this was one of the reasons that I like writing. Because in writing, sometimes you can fix things. A scene is a mess? Rewrite it.

A story is hard, painful, difficult to tell? Leave it and write something else.

Or don’t.

Because some of the best writing is about the things that cannot be fixed. Perhaps that is the real catharsis, the true reason I love writing.

My son believes the bird went to heaven.

I believe, sometimes in spite of myself, in grace and better things to come and a time when we will all be whole.

+ comments (18)
  • Brook
    July 19, 2011


  • CarolineStarrRose
    July 19, 2011

    This really spoke to me. I also find writing attractive because it’s a world I control, but not to the extent I’ll keep my characters from pain.

    As a mother, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about hurt and harm. Some things that hurt (shots) are good. Some things that harm don’t hurt but nonetheless damage.

  • Rose
    July 19, 2011

    Loved this post.

  • Elle Strauss
    July 19, 2011

    A beautiful, touching story. Thanks for sharing.

  • becca
    July 19, 2011

    oh, yes. lovely. beautiful.

  • jessie
    July 19, 2011

    What a touching post. My heart is tender today because my little bro is going into the MTC tommorrow and I am sad. Like inconsolable sad, but sometimes it is the arms around us that makes all the difference.

  • kareywhite
    July 19, 2011

    If only we could rewrite and revise real life. So much heartache we could erase, but so many life lessons we’d lose. Thanks for this post.

  • warnagirl
    July 19, 2011

    Nicely said Ally.

  • Cathy
    July 20, 2011

    A beautiful and thoughtful post. Thank you.

  • Peggy Eddleman
    July 20, 2011


  • Samantha
    July 20, 2011

    This is wonderful, insightful, and so true. My favorite things to write are terrible to experience. I love thick plot, EVIL villains, and struggles that seem insurmountable. They’re crucial in our lives and crucial in literature. We need them to be who we are and become who we’re meant to become. Katniss survived her Hunger Games, so we can survive ours. I sure hope Cassia survives her world, too. 🙂

    • Reading_life
      August 2, 2011

      O.M.G u read the hunger games too!? Dont’cha just LOVE that book? Have u read the other one?! Don’t u just hate/love mockinjay!?

  • Libby
    July 20, 2011

    Ditto! Everyone has already said how lovely this post is. I’m hopping on the bandwagon.

  • Heather Sunseri
    July 21, 2011

    This is a beautiful post, Ally!

  • Heather
    July 25, 2011

    This is beautiful. As a mom of boys, I totally understand where you’re coming from. We too have had moments like this. It is so hard to work through these times and events that cannot be mended or fix but God allows them into our lives to strengthen us and draw us closer to Him. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it in the long run to to see the finished masterpiece of our lives when we make the most of these things. There are many things in my life that some have said, “Don’t you wish you could go back and change that?” I always tell them no, because I can’t change the past without changing who I am and who I am becoming and that is not worth it to me. My past is essential to my future and my future is bright and hopeful.

  • Alisa
    July 27, 2011

    Really beautifully said. As mothers, I think we all have moments like these. It’s during these moments that our faith really carries us. Thanks for sharing this sweet story.

  • Karoadores...
    August 8, 2011

    Thanks for this post, Ally! It was beautiful, even though very sad.

  • Diana
    August 23, 2011

    Thank you, Ally.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *