Today and tomorrow is all that is left of 2016 and I, like many, will be glad to see it go. Yet I walk hesitantly forward, more of a combination of a little excitement and a lot of caution into 2017.
My goal right now is to learn to write a query letter, find an agent and ultimately a publisher and get my book out there in the traditional way. My dream would be that after it is published perhaps Hollywood would take a peek and an interest in the story – that would be very nice. Nice meaning amazingly incredibly wonderful. The script would pretty much writes itself with what I’ve packed into the pages, oh I know, I will still need help, perseverance and a hell of a lot of luck – but it’s a good story, and now the other stories that are welling up inside me, are pushing me to get this book done so they can be born. I see much more pushing in my future.
But I remember just as I tried to push my daughter out into the world she had other plans and took a different direction, ultimately requiring a cesarean. Literally from under my navel she immerged breathtaking with a round head and piercing eyes. I was truly blessed, both my daughters were born beautiful and perfect. How did I do that? How did my husband and I do that? But do that we did. Now as I think of writing a story, as many do, as giving birth that requires a lot of pushing – I can see that the story can take a different direction than originally planned.
My friend Estha, an accomplished poet, author and college professor said the first time we met in my dining room, with two other women whose writings we were being critiqued and the craft of writing studied together – that I must know that what I had written may change completely. I did not want to hear that! I felt terrible even to consider such a thing. Why didn’t she understand? It is my baby and therefore perfect!
As I think back on that time two years ago now – I must laugh. Estha had read my first draft and was actually being kind. It wasn’t at all ready to be read. I can see that very clearly now. Oh I had a very rough sketch of the bones, but the story the muscles and tendons were not there, nor were the nerves and most importantly a pulse – that came much later. When I think I’ve worked on this novel a little less than three years, I can see the growth and development of the story. It wasn’t something that was born perfect – like my children – with fingers ten toes – but it was a project built upon an idea – a flimsy wisp of a story with needs and desires and a will of its own. It nurtured me as much as I needed to nurture it – oh, but one more thing, unlike my daughters this story was born with a full set of teeth, and it bit. A lot!
It gnawed its way through conception, it chewed up ideas and spit them out, it killed my darlings, it grinned at paradigms I didn’t know were there. It coaxed and made me work, really work and think and think some more – then tear up and start again. THAT is when I knew I was making real progress. Working with Susan, my editor who instructed, cajoled and forced me to see the errors as well as where the charms were hidden in the shadows. How to find the voices of my characters and construct a believable world for them to live in. I practiced and still practice – taking her teachings so that I could begin to learn to self-edit. I was given tools to use, shown tracks in the snow that quickly melted that led me off a cliff. You have to choose – fly, glide, hover dreamlike above the clouds, or plunge fiercely to the sharp and jagged floor of the ravine. The decisions are ultimately yours – but the story is not. It breaths and runs and takes paths less traveled and makes you follow as much as lead. If it is a good, well written story, it will allow your readers to come along and trust you as a writer.
It is being touched by words…it is what writing is all about for me.
To those of you who are following me on my journey as a writer. I thank you. Writing is a solitary process, but it is formed with many other voices, those who encourage, challenge, mock, support and enlighten in ways I could have never thought possible.
This entire journey may not end the way I hoped. The profession itself holds no guarantees or promises. Yet I am drawn to it, and no matter what happens, I know I have done everything in my power to write this novel to the best of my ability. From taking classes, workshops, gone to writing retreats, surrounded myself with other writers, authors, positive people, read, re-read, write every day – even when I don’t want to, do whatever it takes to yes learn the craft – but do it because I want to and love to. I wish 2017 brings your goals to fruition. For good health, finding the joy in small things as richly and fulfilling as the large things. Dare I pray for peace, understanding and acceptance for every one of every shade of skin, religious practice or not, way of life, political choice or possibilities. May we all be safe, be mindful and be aware.
I Thank YOU the reader, for without you the writer would have no voice at all!
Happy New Year!