Water Under the Bridge!

As I mused about my first post for this brand-spanking New Year, I thought of my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Smeltzer. Mrs. Smeltzer was old school in every way, and as tough as nails when it came to helping us live up to our potential. She walked to school every day, regardless of the weather- and in Michigan, that’s quite a badge of honor. We learned handwriting with fountain pens. If you blobbed ink on your middle finger, she knew you weren’t holding your pen correctly. She rewarded success, pointed out failure and gave each student a way to do better and achieve more. She read aloud each day after lunch, and introduced me to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Sterling North, James Whitcomb Riley and many other amazing authors that I still read today. She loved poetry, politeness, accuracy and creativity and I loved her for it.

“It’s water under the bridge!” was Mrs. Smeltzer’s favorite saying.

Mackinac Bridge. Image courtesy of Gregory Varnum/Wikipedia.

When we took her famous timed math facts tests, and one or two students tried to write the problems down and finish them before she called time instead of memorize the answer, she’d say, “Pass your papers forward. It’s water under the bridge!” When anyone got less than a favorable mark on a writing or reading assignment and asked for another chance or for some extra credit she’d crow again, “It’s water under the bridge!”

The bell where this saying was concerned finally went off in my head years later in college. I was used to getting good grades without working hard, and when I got my first “F” on a test I heard Mrs. Smeltzer’s voice, “It’s water under the bridge!” And what it meant was, “You blew it. You should have worked harder. It’s no one’s fault but your own. Next time, do better because you can!”

Is there anything in your writing life that needs to become “water under the bridge?” How about that one story you just can’t get right, or the response from that longed-for agent you’ve been waiting to hear from for more than three months. “If I just give them one more day, things will be different!”

Maybe your “water under the bridge” is wondering whether or not you’ll ever make it in this business! But what does “make it” look like anyway? Who else can judge your success but you? Are you writing every day? Are you a better writer than you were last year? Are you meeting with your critique group or partner and making hard changes based on the comments you read? Have you set reasonable and reachable goals for yourself? Are you creating something of value that brings beauty to this world? Then you are a writer my friend, and a successful one!

Let all that self-doubt and loathing be your “water under the bridge” this year. I’m putting mine in a big old basket and sending it down the river- once again- as I write this. If I don’t, I’ll never move forward, and I know Mrs. Smeltzer would not approve- not for a minute. And that’s enough to keep me going- for today anyway…

Happy New Year, and as always, happy writing!

Sensibility- You are a writer! Say that five times out loud before writing today.

Sense- After saying the above, get back to work. It’s the only way to move forward in writing and in life.


What needs to be your “water under the bridge” this year?




5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. lisarosewrites
    Jan 06, 2015 @ 19:54:39

    Sometimes, I must leave OCEANS under the bridge


  2. Ann Finkelstein
    Jan 07, 2015 @ 00:43:58

    Wise words. I’m sending that self-doubt away, away, away. Thanks for the reminder.


  3. Angela Verges
    Jan 24, 2015 @ 12:09:24

    Great words of encouragement.
    I am a writer, I am a writer, I am a writer…now I’m going to write!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,950 other followers

Follow Sensibility and Sense on WordPress.com
The Winged Pen

It takes a flock to get a story aloft.

Angie Karcher

Writing Children's Books

Marirose Sanborn-Smith

Young Adult Fantasy Writer in Michigan

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Erin Fanning

Author of mythic fiction, nature essays, oodles of short stories, magical knitting, hi-lo novels, and guidebooks too.


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.


wonderings and wanderings in a writer's life


creative writing for the f..f..f...FUN of it


Swimming from Shalom to Shazizzle


Practical tips to help your writing dreams come true...

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Blog & website of children's book author Tara Lazar

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Sharing and Celebrating Picture Books Since 2009

Bri Bruce Productions

Design | Publishing | Photography | Art

Author Sandy Carlson (of Michigan)

writers, writing encouragement, writing ideas, craft of writing


an integration of society and religion

Michelle Bradford



Author | Speaker | Entrepreneur

%d bloggers like this: