Finding One’s Way

Finding One’s WayI’ve written before about working on multiple projects.

This past  year I had a taste of what it was like to be locked into a large project with a deadline. One that involved co-writers (for the results of that project, see my post from December 16 Press Release: New Anthology).

I have to admit, while I liked working on the project itself – it was exciting! – I was anguished and frustrated over not being able to work on my other projects simultaneously. Next, of course, came the holidays, as well as some neck pain issues, which were directly related to time spent at the computer.

The holidays were finally over. People were headed home. But, unfortunately, my son-in-law, also a writer, and I had a little conversation.

You see, I had fired out a set of notes on a Hallmark-style movie idea I’d had centered on Christmas.  I figured that as I got caught up on my next two projects and got a little braver, I’d see how  you went about submitting  (and writing) a movie treatment or even a script. We all know how these big fantasies go, right? I mentioned this at the table one night when my son-in-law had his laptop up. He nodded his head and went on checking the Intenet.

“You know,” he said a few minutes later, “Hallmark is having open submissions next month for un-agented book manuscripts. I’ll send you the link.”

Ever pause to ponder how much trouble those five little words cause in this post-Internet life?

I was off. I found the link, followed it, read the blogpost it was associated with, followed the recommended Twitter account, and discovered I had basically one month to write a book in if I wanted to take advantage of this situation.  Now, I believe in myself, but I have no agent. Un-agented submission opportunities are rare, nearly nonexistent. This was not an opportunity to be squandered. But, it would mean diving into a concentrated time expense/effort that would isolate me once again from everyday life AND family AND from my other projects. I have 2 novels that have been patient with me for about as long as they can stand. I expect them to hold me hostage and demand I feed them words any day now.

BUT – the opportunity.

BUT – could I write roughly 75,000 words in 30–some days AND polish them into a state for submission? That pace is faster than NaNoWriMo, and more demanding because it has to be submission ready. The decision was not an easy one.

But I come to you now, frazzle-headed, weary, grateful for the P’T for my neck, and so distracted at my part-time job that they must think I’m a twit (a word that means ‘pregnant goldfish’, did you know that?). And I come to you roughly 18 days into this venture and slightly more than halfway done with a rough draft that I am revising on the run as my son and daughter (also writers) provide me feedback.

Those living at home gave me a thumbs up, and organized the rest of the family into my cheering section. I get to brag on my progress, and they get to applaud my efforts.

Is the manuscript  any good? Heck if I know. Right now it’s mostly draft 1.

Will I finish in time? Ditto.

Have I driven my family nuts yet? Well, so far as I can tell, not any more than usual.

What I have done, however, is lived up to the promise I made myself someplace along the way. I know I have a certain amount of talent. I know can persevere, if I only will. So the promise is this: I will try. I will always try, and try my best. I will complete this novel, and I will make it the very best I can. And, if the timing works, I will submit it.

And if the timing fails, I will submit it somewhere else, or at another time.

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Being a writer, finding your story – it’s like any endeavor in life. For any endeavor in life to succeed, you must live fully into it, give it all your effort, your best shot. That is all you can do, but it is what you must do to know you really tried.

 

Try your hardest. Find your story, find your way. And you find yourself.

 

With apologies and credit….

The following is taken from a shared facebook post and is a poem by Sean Thomas Dougherty from his newest book The Second O of Sorrow. 

It speaks to the question of why should one write

 

taken from a shared facebook post

 

from      SecondO

Life’s a …. mystery

I don’t usually cross-post, but this topic has more than one direction. It also appears in a newsletter I compile for St. Paul’s in the Pines Episcopal Church.

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I like a mystery. I was raised on Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart. I watch them on TV. And, I write mysteries myself. So, why the profound interest in the fictional disasters and deaths of people I will never know?

Because in figuring out the puzzles in the stories, or creating puzzles for others, I get to explore human relationships. And in that exploration comes truth. Truth about people, about how relationships and emotions work, truth about life.

I ran across a person recently who openly berated me for not watching the news on TV. (I hadn’t said I didn’t, but that’s a different issue.)

 He said, “You only know what you read.” (again, another discussion could focus on the fact that written news goes into deeper depth.)

But what I wanted to say, and sadly didn’t, was that fiction, while only limitedly a source of facts, is often a great source of truth. Stories are told to convey the very things I mentioned at the top. Behavior. Emotion. Relationships. Ideas. Concepts. In short, stories convey the truths of people. Or at least, they can. And those are the kind of stories I like to read and write.

The person speaking to me was very proud of the fact that what he knew came from his experience and TV. Personal experience is great, but it is limited in that it is one-sided and tied to the places one has personally been. Books – and other means of telling stories – take us to other people’s experiences. We get to see more than our own point of view, for better or for worse.

It happens that stories were greatly used by someone my conversation partner admired. Jesus used many parables to illustrate his points. And parables are distinctly defined as stories, not facts.

Truth can be found in jokes. Profoundness can be found in puns and homilies in war flicks. People of earth have communicated news and truths through words since they first decided ‘ugh!’ was used to describe something they didn’t like.

Words are thought of as written, like this column. But you are reading it on a screen. It could be illustrated with graphics or even an animation. And it could be shown to you on a news broadcast (however far-fetched that is). The point is, regardless of the tool or the medium, it’s all words. And the same care and deep thought should go into each and every one of those words when we share them. Especially if we are trying to convey truth.

I like mysteries. Humanity is life’s great mystery, and I view God as the author. While I never expect to solve this mystery, my hope is that by reading and writing about it, I can illuminate things a little and add a bit of truth to the pile.

…from My Hero

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“Whenever I have endured or accomplished some difficult task — such as watching television, going out socially or sleeping — I always look forward to rewarding myself with the small pleasure of getting back to my typewriter and writing something.”


“I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die.”

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

 

All three of these quotes are from Isaac Asimov, writer of over 500 works in fields as diverse as science fact, science fiction, religion, and mystery. (Hmm, diverse but not unrelated.)

I can relate to all three of these statements, as well as the fact that Asimov was indeed a generalist.  If he wanted to write about something, he did.

And that’s the kind of writer I am.

What kind are you?  Do any of these quotes describe you and writing?

 

Respond.

 

A Little Thought Off-topic…

I initially wrote this about 5 weeks ago. In light of recent developments, I felt pressed to complete and post this personal statement.

I was re-reading the title of my previous post, Never Promise What You Can’t Deliver..., within the context of current headlines and social media.  It struck me that that is where America is now. We can’t deliver on any  of the promises we have made. Not the ones our Founding Fathers made, not the ones made by our recently past presidents (even ones I was not fond of), not the ones made by our social institutions, our education system, our health care system. None of us can deliver to our children the America whose image we held up to them in the past. We’re foundering. We have promises broken and promises yet unfulfilled.  There are NO CURRENT PROMISES WE CAN TRUST that will be helpful to any of us. And although they themselves don’t realize it, they will not even be helpful to the promisers.

In light of calls to action by so many, I had to wonder, what promises am I fulfilling? What am I doing to help? Not as much as I should. And so I recommit, to take the action of putting my talents to use to make this a better country and a better world. In our fears, purposely cultivated to keep our  eyes trained on them instead of on finding solutions, we have allowed ourselves to be paralyzed. No more.

We are here (whether by accident or design) to make this a better place for all who inhabit the planet. YES. Check your prejudices – and even your religions – at the door. We Are Here to Make this a BETTER PLACE for ALL. Because if it’s not better for some, it’s not better for anyone, and we will fail. No matter who or what you believe in, even if it’s nothing. Our job is to make  this a better place.

That is the promise we need to keep.

Think about it.