Photo: This beautiful blossom has the audacity to bloom outside of the safety of The Husband’s Triangular Prism of Safety. I do not know how long it will be before the groundhog comes to get it, but I praise it for it’s bold and beautiful petals, daring to be perfect and conspicuous outside of safety zone. May you continue to amaze, you radiant beauty! Thank you for your silent and brilliant teaching.
I’ve been refraining from blogging about my writing lately. Maybe a bit out of embarrassment, having yet to succeed in my goal of publishing a novel. Many of you started reading this blog way back when I’d set a grand goal of publishing a novel on my 30th birthday. Well, 32 will be here next month and many projects have come and gone since then.
It’s not like I haven’t been working toward the goal. It’s just been slow, slow… frustrating, arduous… with many lessons learned from multiple teachers: books have been read, techniques have been tried, writing buddies have come and gone. Meanwhile, I’ve been part of a steady, wonderful writing group who have been with me along the way. This blog has helped a lot as well. I keep telling Major that practice is what makes guitar easier–the discipline of making the time, doing the work, is what is going to make him a rock star someday. Well, the steady blogging, going on what? Almost 5 years? Anyway, it has helped a lot. It’s why I even put up “Fail” posts: the discipline is what makes me better. A better blogger, a better writer.
I think that the best part about the steady blogging has been the relationship that I’ve been able to build with you, Dear Reader, as well as building a bit more trust in myself: I am capable of stringing together good stories that people want to read. They aren’t always perfect, but they are often comprehendible. The blog has become a weekly practice of bravery—learning what to share, how to share it in a compelling way, learning that vulnerability often yields a strengthening of bond, a further welcome into an expanding community. Your presence here, your patience with me, and your incredible kindness has made me a better person, a braver writer.
So when I took a leap of faith and sent an editor sample pages of both The Patron of the Meadowlark Inn and The Purveyor to the Sweet Soil Inns (both novellas that I wrote for November NaNoWriMos and published here as I wrote them), I was scared, but for all the right reasons. It wasn’t because I was worried about straight-up rejection, someone telling me that my writing was worthless and that they manuscripts were unsellable. Actually, I was scared because I couldn’t believe how easily I filled out the form, wrote the emails, prepared the pages and sent them off.
I got into my writing group chatroom and filled it with curses. “I can’t believe I just did that! What a stupid, foolish decision!” (That’s the expletive-free summary)
“Oh, you just had your back-to-school moment,” a wise member of my writing group told me. “September is the perfect time to take a risk and try something new. That was your moment. You just started something big.”
On Sunday night, the editor got back to me. Her notes were full of compliments and questions, challenges to make the two manuscripts better, plenty of encouragement. She expressed excitement over the prospect of reading more. I was truly shocked.
I showed the email to The Husband and he just nodded his head. “I told you so.”
I realize I’m still at the bottom of the mountain. I guess I also realize that I’ve come a long, long way in the last two years. Some of the work was unnoticeable, some of it was excruciating. Yet, I’m still on the hunt for that first publishing “yes” and the momentum that comes with it.
But my Quiet Thoughts are in the seemingly small acts of personal bravery that can propel. By virtue of getting in touch, making a pitch, sending some pages, I made a decision that I can turn back from. Much like with the freelancing, the simple act of saying, “yes, I will try,” is a big deal. The results have been momentous. I know that there is a lot of luck in that. I get to celebrate because things have happened to go right so far. There is still risk of failure. High risk. The freelancing could dry up. The fiction writing could never take off. I could ever remain right where I’ve always been: at the bottom of this tall, tall mountain.
But, Dear Reader, I’m trying. Small steps turn into feet, yards, and miles.
Even if you are not a student, I love this time of year because it signifies an opportunity to try something new. We all get to reset as the children head back and we all recall first days gone by. So on this Friday, hot and humid, in total denial of the social change of seasons, I wish you your own brave back-to-school moment. Take the step you’ve been working for. Do it with a little bit of doubt, but a whole lot more faith in yourself and what you are capable of. I wish you quiet moments of contemplation, but then a bit of time to talk it out with a close companion. When was the last time you spoke your goals into existence? Be sure to share an intimate moment over good food, excellent drink. The harvest season is starting! Indulge in fresh tomato! Bonus points if there are fresh basil and mozzarella to add! Above all, as ever, don’t forget to share a bit of loving joy this weekend. Just say the words to someone: yourself, a family member, a friend, the love of your life… say the words, knowing that when you do, you get everything out of the world that you put into it: so express your love, your appreciation and your admiration to someone this weekend. Know that someone feels the same way about you. Feel it in your heart and surround yourself with it as you go about your days.
And come back ready to take on the world. It’s going to be a great start to the new season!
Until Monday, stay safe, be kind, walk bravely, and take care.