When I was small and my fingers were still childish and clumsy, my Granny would untangle my necklaces for me. Once I grew a little older, she said I could do it myself.

When I was small and my fingers were still childish and clumsy, my Granny would untangle my necklaces for me. Once I grew a little older, she said I could do it myself.  
The first time I untangled a knotted chain, I thought it would be impossible. I didn't think I would ever manage to undo each knot but at her insistence, I persevered.  Granny told me that I needed patience and to work at each knot until I undid it. If there were more than one, then she said to work with one at a time. She said it would be good training for dealing with life's problems and it is, especially when one chain becomes tangled with another.  
As I undid the knots in a necklace recently so I could wear it, I thought about those long ago lessons.  I realized that the way I approach what many writers call "plot knots" in much the same way. No matter how well you've plotted and planned your story, sooner or later, you'll hit a snag.  Maybe it's something that isn't working and you need time to work it out.  It could be a point of research, something you need to research, sometimes again.  There's the possibility you need to know more about a character's occupation or a location or something else important to the story.  Maybe you've realized that what you wrote in chapter one now conflicts what you just wrote in chapter seven.  Or, it could be as simple as the story just took an unexpected turn (which happens and you're temporarily stumped. Whatever the hang up might be, it's a plot knot that needs to be worked through and untangled.

Sometimes, when I run into a problem, I let it sit so I can think it through.  If I'm lucky, then my brain may wrestle with the issue until I experience an "Eureka!" moment.  If not, which is far more common, then I have to figure it out.  Sooner or later, I do and although I  may be frustrated during the process, if I remain patient and tackle each knot at a time, I work it out.

As my Granny said, it's a good life lesson.  Life is prone to tossing the unexpected in your direction.  It might be a sudden vehicle issue or it might be unanticipated end of a job.  It might be an appliance that quits working without warning or a  health issue.  Nature could wreak some fury on your property.  I'm a tornado survivor who put my life back together as a teenager.  In our area, many residents have experience the same and recently, flood survivors are doing the same, rebuilding their homes and lives, one step at a time.

Although patience is a virtue I've yet to perfect, although I've improved over the years, undoing knots or handling life also requires some faith.  Granny taught that too, as a matter of fact, everyday facet of life.  Her favorite Scripture was always from 2 Timothy 4:7-8.  And Granny did. She fought a good fight, she kept the faith, and she finished the course.  

From untangling a chain to living everyday life to solving writing issues, Granny's simple life lesson still holds true and always will, with abundant patience and an abiding faith.

Lee Ann Murphy writes a column for the Neosho Daily News and is a staff writer for the paper.