Monday, June 23, 2008

on being a brave writer

My dear blog readers: (I’m hoping there’s maybe 3 or 4 of you still left after my past several weeks of neglect, but maybe I’m just talking to my mother at this point. Hi Mom.). I feel like apologizing for not writing on my blog more faithfully, but I won’t. I won’t apologize because I think I’ve been in this position before and I worry about it becoming a bad pattern (post lots, post less, post hardly at all, beg for forgiveness, promise to do better, post lots, and so forth. Sound familiar?). I also won’t apologize because it was all for a good cause. I’ve been busy with other writing projects and I’m feeling good about how things are going. I also plan to blog more, starting today. (Okay, so maybe I’ll do the “promise to do better” thing after all. I can’t help it). I will admit that I won’t have time to polish everything I want to say or even come up with snazzy connections to art every day, but my blog is my incubator for my writing and—if nothing else—I need to keep it plugged in. Gotta let those little chicks hatch.

Today was day one of my writer’s conference. I’ve been looking forward to this conference for weeks. And so far, it does not disappoint. In the morning workshop, we discussed three manuscripts and one of them was mine. Can I just say I’m eternally grateful we got mine over with on the first day? I was a nervous wreck. I felt like bursting into tears just from the sheer terror of it all. But the really amazing thing was everyone seemed to like my writing. The feedback was encouraging and I got some good ideas of things I need to work on. Mostly, I walked away with a renewed sense of confidence. I’m not a total joke of a writer. I can finish my book. I will finish it.

These are important things I need to say to myself. Writing is a natural thing. Most of us can write. It’s not that scary. But trying to write well. . . this is another thing entirely. To write well, you have to take risks. You have to dislocate language from its comfort zones—the clichés and turns of phrase that are always the first to pop into your head and that are poison to any sincere attempts at saying something truly creative and new. I’m not typically a risk taker. I’m a wimp. I go into a panic when I have to stick my neck out. There’s always the chance that I’ll say something utterly stupid or too melodramatic or over-reaching. I could just play it safe and say things that sound familiar. But the problem is, they sound familiar because they’ve been said a million times before. To write well, it takes courage and a willingness to make a total fool of myself along the way.

So tonight, I am relieved. It’s always a huge relief when it feels like my occasional bursts of bravery might get me somewhere worth going.


Pale Bear said...

I know you sweat and toil over what you write, but the stuff that just flows out of you is better than what most people can do. Plus, I don't think you owe us anything. I don't blog, I don't have loyal followers, but I think anytime you want to write you can and we'll be happy to read it.

Your mom isn't the only one still reading (with my pseudonym, no one need know I'm your sister-in-law). I have been checking your blog every few days for awhile now to see what you might have posted. Today I thought you might write because it's Ken's birthday (happy birthday!) and you'd want to brag about him.

I've been wondering about the writer's conference and would love to know more. And I'd love to see what you've done after the conference and feedback and stuff.

TARA said...

I'm still here, and though I've missed you it doesn't bring on the same sense of panic that it used to, since I know my reader (You taught me about readers!) will alert me when you're back.

The writer's conference sounds great. I'm so glad you get to participate. And I'm with Pale Bear - the roughest of your writing for outshines what most of us can do on our best days.

allysha said...

How exciting. I can't wait to read that book; as well as some more blog posts.

Annette Lyon said...

Just being able to say, "I can finish my book. I will finish it," it HUGE. Countless people say they want to write--and begin a book--but never get to the end.

I want to hear more about this conference. Where is it? Sounds like a great workshopping experience.

mindyluwho said...

Here! (One of your loyal readers checking in!)

I don't think it's so amazing that everyone liked your writing because you are a fantastic writer and of course they liked your writing! But still, how very terrifying to be in a room full of other writers and have them critique yours.

Looking forward to more frequent posts!

Kimberly said...

So glad it went so well for you! Sounds like an amazing experience. And I'm so glad you wrote about it, as I just started tackling the rewrites on the first draft of my first book and I need the motivation!

An Ordinary Mom said...

I'm still here!

Good luck with the writing, I am excited to see what you produce.

Anonymous said...

I say blog when you feel like it, don't blog when you feel like it. I still check in every day to see if there is anything new.

Congratulations on having your manuscript discussed at the writer's conference conference. That is so great! And nerve-wracking, too, I imagine.


kyouell said...

I'm newly-faithful and I'm still here. The same day you posted this we went to an evaluation for my son at the local school district-thingy (it's actually a region, woo-hoo). I'm still reeling from that meeting and not reading or writing regularly. So, I may be late, but I am still subscribed and reading.