I see circles everywhere, completions, chickens coming home to roost and then interviewing with them. Sigh, that made more sense in my head, let me see if I can make sense of this for both of us. This past weekend I got a note from the San Diego Writers, Ink Analogy volume IV folks. I had submitted two short stories sometime at the end of the summer. I can’t tell you the last time I submitted my work anywhere. I sent out some query letters last year when I finished my first book and got a little feedback and a few bites but stopped as a memoir is rarely the first book out of the gate for a new author unless you landed a plane in the Hudson River or survived the attack of Sasquatch. So it was a lark to send my work in but hey it was a six-dollar investment and since that is in my budget I did it. Then promptly forgot about it for the most part. A time or two in October, while driving, I thought ‘hey I never heard from those guys’ but within one stop lights distance the thought was gone and forgotten until the email from them this past Saturday. I have to say there was something unexpected in the text. They said they loved one of my short stories and wanted to include it in this year’s book. Not a rejection at all, well isn’t this a horse of another color, the color of success.
I have been writing a lot since moving to San Diego, in blog format, articles and books. I have been learning how to combine writing with my days whether they are empty or full. I learned how to take 30 minutes and produce. I no longer have to wait for inspiration, which rarely comes unless I am actually in process, actually banging the hell out of a keyboard. For anyone who has ever witnessed me typing it is a full on contact sport. I learned to type on a typewriter and I slap the keys, hard. Better the keys than doing a Zsa Zsa I say. I try not to over think or edit while writing, editing lives in another part of your brain and is no friend till after the first draft is finished. So learning to just keep sitting back down and starting, over and over when the words are not flowing was a huge step over these past few years and working to a deadline or in this case a promise to Tony. Because of him I put my work out there on the web, in fact I don’t know if I would have recognized what I do as writing if it weren’t for Tony.
More than fifteen years ago I was wrestling with wanting to be a writer and not trusting my voice, skill or lack thereof at the time. I was reading a journal passage to Tony and he pointed out that I was already a writer and the rant, or rather the essay, I had just read was just that. I would not have recognized what I was writing was of value at the time without his insight. Sometimes others can provide valuable feedback, both good and bad, for us to hone our skills. That being said I always consider the source very carefully before giving any credence to feedback, making note of ego and agenda, among other things. So taking the time to actually create–whether that is to paint, write or start a business, whatever your medium–is imperative even if you don’t feel like it. The second step is to share what you are doing with others. At first just with those you trust and can feel vulnerable with. Later spread the love, as your artist ego becomes more confident. Ask those you trust for feedback, take a workshop, watch a video, but don’t forget to keep doing while studying. Sometimes studying, thinking about what you are going to do can be a form of procrastination. If we don’t begin something we can’t make a mistake and we can’t suck at it. We also don’t create something wonderful, or have the experience of creative freedom and discovery.
It doesn’t matter how good a story teller I am, I can tell it one on one or one on few over and over. By writing it down, I can pass it on to have a life of its own. By putting it out there for others to read I am releasing it on its own recognizance, ok I have been watching a lot of Law and Order lately. Granted I never know who reads what I post, minus the beloved few who post comments, so I sometimes feel like I am just flinging this stuff out into the ether. I know it is not my job to worry about an audience, but there are times I do and it makes me think, “Is the time at my keyboard worth it?” Bottom line: it is, even if just for me. That should be true for you as well; your time in creating should be the reward. In my experience it is frustrating, nerve wracking, exhilarating and deeply satisfying.
Putting it out there is part of the chickens coming home to roost I spoke about. I had been pet and house siting all of November at a friend’s house. As others found out what I was doing they inquired about my rates and availability. It had not occurred to me to charge for this or make it a side business. I did a little research and sure enough it was a viable option for me. I posted two ads on Craig’s List for house and pet sitting. I got an email inquiring about my services and a request to interview me. I had never interviewed with a farm animal before, I dated a few but that is another story. I interviewed with the chicken one sunny Saturday morning along with her owner. They were both lovely. The job seemed fun and simple but was not meant to be. However I can add that I interviewed with a chicken to my resume, a fine distinction.
How this comes full circle is this: after learning to write all the time under all kinds of conditions, after bringing others in for feedback, after putting my work out there I had forgotten the last step. That is to submit my work, not just post it in my corner of the World Wide Web but to put it out there for publication on someone else’s dime. That is what I had been working toward for years but it seems I have been driving at night too long. Writing is like driving at night, I can only see 50 feet in front of me, but I can get where I need to go only seeing those 50 feet at a time. That next article, chapter, blog is how I break it down into bite size or life size pieces. What I forgot was there is daylight as well where you can see a good deal better and its okay to take shots at your long range goals. It seems they creep up on you when you drive at night, so remember to pick your head up sometimes and see the chickens have come home to roost you may not get the gig with the chicken but you might get published.