Monday, July 21, 2014

Daring to dare

It seems I have yet to find a way to balance journaling and blogging, because it seems while I'm perfectly capable of doing one (to the detriment of the other), I can't manage both. I blame my pesky job. ;)

I did spend the majority of last Wednesday writing, though, and I have six and a half pages of fiction to show for it. I was off work that day, having worked the previous Monday in the absence of two coworkers, and it was rainy, windy and a bit grim all day: absolutely perfect writing weather. I'm not saying it's particularly brilliant prose, but it's more creative writing than I've done in a while, and I am not dissatisfied with it. In fact, I felt ridiculously proud of myself afterwards. I often feel like my creativity has atrophied, and the fact that it hasn’t gone completely gave me a sense of victory (and, after a lazy reading day yesterday involving nothing beyond that and mass, today between laundry and yard work managed some more. I've even written out a timeline, which is something I NEVER do).

I have a motivating factor now, you see and, as a procrastinator by nature, deadlines are helpful. :)

Early last week, my mom called me up. She subscribes to the Florida Humanities Council magazine and noticed an ad for the Eckerd College writers' conference, which will be held in for a week, mid-January, in St. Pete. She thought maybe I'd be interested, and gave me the URL.

I went to the website and checked it out. As I was reading over the FAQs page, I felt my heart beat a little faster, and not just because of the (quite expensive) associated cost, or the fact that applicants have to submit a 25-page draft of an unpublished manuscript - fiction or non, and applicants can submit both - for review before they're accepted. It dawned on me that I was not only nervous about the prospect, but downright terrified of even trying.

Do you know what my very next thought was?

I have to at least apply.

I came across a Maya Angelou quote recently where she said, "I believe the most important single thing beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare." While I think there are, in fact, some things more important (faith, hope and love come to mind), I agree about the daring. I haven't dared much in too long.

I have become stagnant, complacently. Yes, I've said it before. Yes, I write here, but I am completely aware of the limited number of readers who visit it. And, too, I write every day for work, but the majority of the stories I write are completely lacking in challenge and require little to no creativity. But I think, too, about my dad, who always talked about writing novels, who dabbled in poetry, who came up with sometimes brilliant plots but never did anything about them, and I know he regretted it. I'm not trying to be vainglorious when I say I know I have talent. I don't want to waste this God-given gift, to lament efforts unmade, to leave the field, as it were, unchallenged. And while there is another writers' conference being held closer, and sooner, for cheaper, I don't have enough vacation time to go this year and still have time for the holidays.

So, last Wednesday, I pulled out a quasi-comedic mystery story I'd started in 2010, added a bit to in 2012 but hadn't touched since then. I thought I'd had about 10 or 11 pages, but there were nearly 19! The story still stands up, too, in terms of not being dated at all. So now that I'm very close to the 25-page requirement (not that I'm going to stop at 25...or not edit it), I'm also contemplating writing something in the non-fiction category as well. There are several incidents of family history I've wanted to write about for a while now, and I think this might be the place to start with at least one of them.

Or maybe that's too ambitious and over-reaching. :)

And yes, there will be a Scotland post forthcoming...