Yesterday, I had been feeling pretty good. My mother had come with me on my morning walk, I got a shower before 9AM, three piano students cancelled (not necessarily a good thing, but with my crazy schedule this week, it actually helped a lot!), and I didn't lug all my junk to the conference (pen and paper seriously work wonders, I've decided). I walked in with more confidence this time, ready to absorb all the knowledge that was before me.
I wasn't expecting the startling revelation which left me feeling slightly deflated.
Writing is hard work. Hard work. (No, this is not the revelation). Oh, sure, writing a blog isn't too difficult. Writing something the family wants to read is a little bit harder. Of course, writing to attract many readers and maintain their interest takes some muscle, as I've seen with my own blog these last 2 1/2 years. But the kind of writing I've always wanted to do is dang hard. Hard like throw-your-entire-self-into-a-character-and-plot-and-feel-vulnerable-to-the-point-of-embarrassment-and-then-get-rejected-over-and-over-and-over-and-over-by-publishers-and/or-literary-agents-because-you've-obviously-only-been-doing-it-for-a-short-time-and-you-haven't-suffered-enough-and-did-you-honestly-think-you-could-write-professionally?!? Yeah. It's hard.
So, I was sitting in a class, where I was learning about the Internal Editor versus the Writer Self, and we were discussing the process of drafts, revisions, "seasoning" a draft, etc. and it hit me like a ton of bricks:
I want to be a writer. I am going to do this. No matter what, I am going to do this.
Now, dear reader, you may be wondering why I see this as deflating. I'll explain it to you in the best way I can. Behold! A list!
1. Writing is hard work.
2. If I had spent all this money and time at a workshop to discover that I had no more desires to write books, and no more desires to write period, then I would have been perfectly content. I would not have seen it as a waste of time to realize I wasn't meant for something.
3. Now that I realize I want to be a writer, I'm kind of freaking out. Quietly, though. More of an internal dialogue full of fear, knowing that I want it. Seriously? Before I figured this out, I just thought I'd give it a good ol' try. I'd send in my books, I would write a little here and there, and finally, after the third or fourth rejection, I'd shrug my shoulders, say "At least I tried!" and be done with it. But now I can't. Now I have to face what these authors have faced: The reality of wanting, living, breathing, dying, longing for acceptance for something that might not be very good at all.
Did you know that one author at this conference had tried for 4 1/2 years and had 425 rejections before she was accepted by a publisher? This is the type of thing I now have to face--the humiliation before I find the success, and if I'm being perfectly honest with myself? I may never even have success.
But, this revelation was strong and true; the desire wasn't fleeting. Even now as I type this, I know that writing is something I want to do. So, I will do it. I will write 5 minutes at a time for years and years until my novels are finished. I will work on my picture books, my chapter books, my historical fiction; I'll find the genre where I excel, and I will write draft after draft after draft. I will face the rejections with humility and I will attend conference after conference and write query/cover letter after query/cover letter. I will do this, because now, I realize, I want it. I really, really, really want it.
It's insane, really.
In closing, here are the classes I attended:
"Passion or Practicality --Writing for Love or the Market" by Stacy Whitman (Editor, Mirrorstone)
"The Hat-Switch Trick: When to Write, When to Edit, and the Crucial Questions to Ask, or, Avoiding Fashion Disaster and a Bad, Bad Book" by Jeanette Ingold.
"Mining Your Memories: A Tap on Our Own Shoulders" by Kathi Appelt.
I'll leave you with another 5 minute prompt I wrote (long hand) in Kathi Appelt's class. We brainstormed descriptive words of what made us think of "Summer", and then we had to pick three of the words at random. One of the words had to be our starting word (no "the", "a", or "my"; just the word), and we had to use the other two words in the first paragraph. My words were ice-cream truck, bare feet, and cut grass:
"Ice Cream Truck!" yelled Jared.
Immediately we jumped up from the rug in front of the television and raced out the front door. I didn't wait long enough for Sally to make it through the screen door, and I heard her whine in protest. Dad had mowed the lawn that morning and the cut grass stuck to my bare feet as I raced towards the sidewalk. I could already taste the chocolate ice cream, cold and wet, dripping on my tongue.
"Jared, do you have the money?" I asked, out of breath.
"What? For me, yeah. Not for you!"
I slugged his arm and ran back to the house, passing Sally on the way. I figured I should get some for her as well or else she might tell mom. I was in enough trouble as it was, having...
P.S. Have you ever found something that you love to do but realized that loving it was going to be hard work? Tell me about it...