Friday, March 22, 2013

And On the Creative Writing Front ...

Hmm. I've considered myself a creative writer for almost 40 years, yet the majority of my professional writing has consisted of software documentation. But let's not dwell on that.

First, the poem. I wrote a poem last fall and submitted it to a journal. It got accepted. It's not a prestigious journal or anything like that, but it's a journal, dammit, and it's going to publish my poem. So there. (More details on that once it's out!)

Next, the story. Back in 2001, I came up with an idea for a story. It wasn't really a story--it was more a scene that would occur at the end of a story. I came up with the title. I came up with the main character. And that was it. Everything else in life (jobs, marriage, moving, etc.) always came before my creative pursuits, so I put the story on the back burner, where it stayed until 2006.

Then, the sob story about the story. Long-term followers of this blog might remember the hellish ending of my high-school teaching career and how I had to take time off from working for a while. That was in 2006. So, with nothing to push my creative writing to the back burner, I decided that the character deserved a novel, as she was much too complex for a short story. So I started writing one. It was pretty good, I thought ... or at least the first sixteen chapters that I actually wrote were pretty good.

That fall, I took a fiction-writing workshop with an award-winning regional writer. I more than held my own in there.

Then, the following spring, I got another job in software documentation and, just like that, the novel was moved to the back burner. In the next four years, I wrote only one more chapter to the book. It was in maybe 2008 (pre-baby). Hubster had to be away for a week on business, so I took a week's vacation time and spent it in the local coffee shops, writing. Thus was Chapter 17 born.

But then ... life. Oh, life. Crazy work schedules, teaching, motherhood, illness, and of course the always present depression (and all the medication experimentation that comes with that). No more book. For all intents and purposes, the novel was dead. Abandoned by the wayside. It wasn't what I wanted, but it's what happened.

But there's hope! In 2012, history (sort of) repeated itself, and I left my teaching job (like in 2006) and found myself with time. Yes, I was recuperating, and yes, there were days I couldn't function, but I started writing again anyway. Seriously writing. For the first time since ... 2001? 1996? 1989?

Back to the story. First, I wrote some poems and was thrilled at the poetry that could come out of my head. Some of it was awful, but quite a bit of it wasn't too bad. (Did I mention one of my poems is going to be published? Oh, OK. I did.) But I wanted to write that story that I'd started thinking about in 2001. I didn't want to go back to the novel (yet). I just wanted to write the damn short story and get it over with already.

So guess what?

Yes! You guessed it! I wrote it! I wrote the story! It's about 5,000 words; I cut a good 500 out just this morning. I'm going to put some finishing touches on the draft tomorrow before sending it to a couple of readers--one who is a friend and a fan of my main character, and another who is a respected author here in Western NC who's agreed to look at it.

So yeah, I'm on top of the world. I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to have written that thing. It's been hanging over me all these years. I don't know if it's a good story or not. I don't know if the funny parts are funny or the subtle parts are subtle. But it feels so good to have a draft in my hands.

And I always have an analogy for everything, so ... I think the experience is similar to when you start working out again after a year or so of being out of shape. I'm exhausted but thrilled that I'm writing. And I know that, if I keep it up, I'll be in infinitely better shape in the weeks, months, and years to come.

And that's good.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life is Better

I know my last couple of posts haven't been paragons of optimism, but hey--I'm a pessimist at heart. However, I do have some great news to share here on this lil ole blog.

I've started a new medication. It has been amazing. A miracle, really. I actually look forward to taking it in the mornings and evenings. I am now able to function, and I don't feel sick all the time. I've put on a few pounds (which I needed to do), so I no longer look like a sick person. Not only that, but I've written drafts to several short stories. I've become more perceptive. I'm learning how to see again. Life is good.

On top of that, my three-year-old is adorable and precocious. She's whiny on occasion, and can be stubborn as hell, but she's mostly adorable. Her latest game (which is driving me crazy) is to say something like, "You're Megan [my sister] and I'm Ella [Megan's daughter, and Anne's cousin]." Or "I'm Daddy and you're Anne." Or "I'm Mo [her best friend] and you're Angela [Mo's mom]." And then we pretend we're those people. Yesterday she decided, halfway through her PB&J sandwich, that she didn't like PB&J because "I'm Ella, and Ella doesn't like sandwiches" (which is true). It was cute the first couple of times, but after a few weeks of it, I want to yell, "No! You're Anne and I'm Mommy! Let's leave it at that, kid!"

But she really is a sweetie. I'm happy to be well enough now to enjoy her.

That's about it for this update. That, and I can't wait for spring to spring. This will be the first spring in years and years that I've had the leisure to hit the hiking trails in the area--and Anne is now old enough to hike, even if she can't go very far yet.

Until next time ...