Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Missing Piece

by Kathy Neely @NeelyKneely3628

Shel Silverstein is an icon in the world of children’s poetry. Where the Sidewalk Ends. The Giving Tree. Falling Up. I could go on and on. His simplistic illustrations, often in black and white, have become synonymous with his name. 

He authored a book titled The Missing Piece. Here’s the quick premise. It looks like a cheese wheel with a wedge removed, or perhaps an open-mouthed Pac-man. It knows that something is missing, so proceeds to hunt for it.

Every solution turns out wrong. It squeezes misshapen objects in an attempt to fill the emptiness. Too large. Too small. An incorrect form. 

A myriad of lessons awaits us in this simple, yet complex children’s book. I’ve found myself trying to fill the emptiness with possessions, work, people, and even with writing. None of those things are bad, but they can’t fill the empty space. I’ve fooled myself with the ‘if only’ dream. 

There’s only one perfect fit for the missing space in each of us. We were created to love and glorify God. Here’s the big problem. I think I do that, yet I still come up empty. If you continue reading Silverstein’s book, you’ll discover that It found a piece that fit, yet wasn’t satisfied. Why? Because the perfect circle caused it to spin past all the beloved parts of life. In the end, It chose to leave the space empty. 

So, what’s our lesson? I believe that we can never fully fill that space on this side of eternity. I love going on vacation, but by the end of a week, I’m homesick. We were created for a different place. We are sojourners longing for that eternal home. I believe that when we reach our final home, nothing will be missing. We will be complete. 

What does this have to do with writers? Here are some take-aways, 
  • Writing is not the slice of life that completes us. I love writing, and it’s a part of my life. But it’s not my life. If you’re like me, you need to remind yourself to keep it in perspective. 
  • Remember that the ‘if only’ statements don’t satisfy. If only I could … Finish this novel. Find an agent. Receive a contract. You can fill in your own blank. I’ve been on the back end and front end of each of those statements. It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions, but sorry, it doesn’t fill the empty space. There’s always something more to want. 
  • Stop fretting about reviews. After my first novel launched, I obsessed with reviews. I’d click on Amazon multiple times daily. My problem wasn’t the quality of reviews but the lack of them. As much as I reminded people about the importance of reviews, most people simply don’t post them. It was a burden lifted when I decided to stop agonizing about reviews. 
  • Don’t spin so fast that you lose sight of what’s important. That poor little cheese wheel or Pac-man, or whatever you wish to call it, found a fit and spun so fast that it couldn’t enjoy life. Take time for what’s really important. Newsflash—it isn’t writing. Time spent with God, family, friends, church, leisure. In life’s big picture, they all surpass writing. 
  • Our chief purpose is to love and glorify God. What a joy it is to call myself a Christian writer. I don’t write fiction with a forced message or hidden agenda. That weakens a story. But I do weave the message of Christ as it fits the circumstances of plot. I believe that readers accept that and may be influenced by the message more than a Sunday sermon hidden in a novel. 

Who knows—maybe this was Shel Silverstein’s hidden message all along. Thank you, Matt Densky, Fellowship Greenville’s gifted student ministry pastor. I borrowed some of his insights with permission. 


Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading. 

She is the author of The Street Singer, released in February, 2019. Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These will be released in 2019. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her first novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers. 




  1. What a great post! I've been struggling with almost everything you mentioned. Stories have been so much a part of my life that I was thinking that's why God made me. But God uses people for multiple-purproses. His character development skills are unsurpassed. So I've been telling myself lately "I'm more than my stories." Thank you for reinforcing that.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement. For those of us who love to write, it's easy to lose sight of what's truly important. May God always keep us focused.

  2. Wow...such a great post Kathleen! Sounds like a wonderful children's book and your books sound amazing too!
    Good luck and God's blessings

    1. Thank you, Pam.Blessings to you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Kathy. Every writer, and every person, needs to hear them. Sometimes God puts divine appointments in our lives and we need to follow His path not ours.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. You're so right yet we so often miss recognizing God's path. We need to focus on Him daily.
      Blessings to you.

  4. So true! Thank you for sharing this truth! Beautiful post.

  5. I'm so glad I read this post. It brought a tear and a chuckle, both of recognition. It's always good to be reminded to keep our focus on what truly matters, and you nailed it! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Nancy. Blessings to you.