Monday, March 18, 2013

It's not about the destination

Ann Hood and Pam Asberry
I'm still trying to figure out who I am as a writer. But every time I put myself out there I feel that I get a little closer to my destination.

Saturday, for example, I subjected the first twenty-five pages of last November's NaNoWriMo manuscript to a critique from a published author at Georgia Romance Writer's Gin Ellis Workshop. This was my first foray into the world of writing for young adults so I was understandably anxious about this critique. Happily, my reviewer proclaimed she thinks I have "a gift" for YA, that my descriptions were "lovely" and that I did an "exceptional job conveying [my heroine's] feelings onto the page." That said, she criticized my slow pacing and encouraged "a more intense connection" between my hero and heroine. I am going to take these suggestions to heart, finish this manuscript, and enter it in this year's Unpublished Maggie Awards.

Then I went to the Atlanta Writers Club and heard author Ann Hood speak on How to Write Through the Land of Sorrow. Her poignant stories resonated with me and inspired me to dig deeper into my own personal experiences and use them to add depth and emotion to my writing. And of course I bought a copy of her latest book, The Obituary Writer. It is now waiting patiently at the top of my TBR pile.

Uncertainty is isn't always comfortable. But I don't need to know exactly where this writing journey is going to take me--because I'm meeting so many wonderful people and learning so much about myself as I travel down the path.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I am enough

Being enough was going to have to be an inside job.
~ Anne Lamott

I am a busy person. Like a lot of other women, I have a full-time job, a household to run, kids who need me, dreams I am chasing. I also enjoy spending time with friends, pursuing hobbies, keeping up with a handful of television shows, watching the occasional movie.

The truth? Sometimes I just want to sit and do nothing.

But I don't allow myself that luxury very often. The first of the year, I even went so far as to create myself an Excel spreadsheet for each month itemizing all the non job related things I wanted to work into every twenty-four hour period: things I really enjoy doing but that often take a back seat to my daily responsibilities. As a reward for spending a mere twenty minutes a day on each task, I gave myself a colorful star. I thought having a visual reminder and receiving instant gratification would motivate me to complete every task every day.

Well, my February star chart is pictured above. As you can see, there are more blank spaces than stars. And as the end of the month approached, I began to feel like a dismal failure.

Then on Friday I was stricken with a stomach bug. As I lay in my bed willing myself not to throw up, unable to sleep due to a fever and a throbbing head, I had plenty of opportunity to think. And I realized I needed to give myself a break.

The past month has been absolutely bonkers. My ex filed paperwork to reduce child support; I spent an evening with my youngest at the emergency room; my budding romantic relationship imploded. I gave a presentation to my local piano teachers association; my students were scheduled to participate in a local piano festival requiring long weeks of preparation. I had my upstairs bathroom remodeled; I submitted twenty-five pages of my NaNoWriMo manuscript for a critique workshop. Is it any wonder I didn't find time to practice three instruments, de-clutter the house, or cook and bake every day? By the end of February, I wasn't even writing morning pages or posting to my blog. Those are sure signs that my life is completely out of whack.

At the conclusion of our piano festival Saturday evening I was utterly exhausted. I limped home, took my son out to dinner, did my beading project for the day, and collapsed into bed. I wanted to stay under my soft, warm covers and sleep forever. I needed to spend Sunday catching up laundry and deep cleaning my sorely neglected home.

Instead, I got up and drove forty-five minutes to meet my friend Shawn and discuss Week Six of The Prosperous Heart. We had a leisurely lunch afterwards; on the way home, I called my mom and dad, whom I hadn't spoken to since Christmas. I picked up my sixteen year old; we finaly went shopping for new bedding for his room and had a nice dinner out. Then I came home, changed into my pajamas, made myself a cup of tea, and relaxed with a couple of television shows I had recorded. It was just what I needed.

I have reached the point at which I don't need to prove anything to anyone--least of all to myself. Just as I believe that those around me are doing the best they can and taking care of the most important things, I need to give myself credit for the same. I do enough. I am enough.

With or without a star chart.