Monday, October 10, 2005

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

The Tag (from Holly):

1. Delve into your blog archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas…

5. Tag five people to do the same.

12/27/2001 Current writing: only writing practice for the past couple of days

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, pratice. How do you get published? See above.

Writing is a skill. It must be learned. A talent for telling engaging stories is helpful, but talent is wasted without the skill that comes from writing words, words, and more words. It's useful for us writers to remind ourselves sometimes that we need to practice our skills. Stretching our boundaries is good exercise, and no words are ever wasted. The practice of writing them not only feeds our addiction and reinforces our habit, it also improves our skill. We get better word by word.

When I wrote this post, I had just finished a year in Hell. I knew going in that that job would probably kill me. So why did I take it? I have a self-abusive, self-destructive streak so wide I can't see one bank from the other. 19 days after I wrote these words, I was on my way to a psychiatric hospital for a 2-week crisis intervention.

On the other hand, 2001 was the year I discovered myself as a writer. I had been writing sporadically for many years, but in 2001 I came out of the closet and publically declared myself to be a writer. That was the year I began to first think of myself as a writer. 100% of the credit for that goes to
Holly Lisle. First, I found Mugging the Muse, which is still one of my favorite books for inspiration. Through Holly's site, I found Forward Motion, signed up, and never looked back.

Being a member of a community is one of the things I have been able to hold on to through the really bad times that followed. The unconditional support and willingness to help was exactl;y what I needed to put my feet on the right path to writing. In that December, my short story "
'We'll Always Have Paris'" was published on the Writer's Hood (which has unfortunately gone belly-up) after an intensive round of revisions that I consider my MFA.

That story also brought me my first reader feedback. That was a real watershed event. It brought writing out of the realm of fantasy, of dreaming, and made it concrete in my life. The fact that a reader had been so moved by my words that she took the time to write me, a total stranger, was a slap in the face with an ice-cold cloth. I realized at that moment that I actually can write. I am a writer, now.

Christmas, 2 days previous to this post, had brought me two books that also changed my life.
Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, both by Natalie Goldberg, have served as guideposts along my path, keeping me going in the right direction and offering the occasional kick in the pants. For continuing support and help, I highly recommend them both, along with Thunder and Lightning, a later purchase.

The best of times, the worst of times. Life is never as bad as we imagine it to be. When the darkness falls, and I despair of seeing the sun again, I know now that there are still good things in the world. Hope never deserts me, it's always waiting patiently by me side, waiting for me to uncover my eyes and see it. Good things happen all the time. I just have to recognize them for what they are.

Who's up next:

Stationery Queen


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