Friday, July 12, 2013

For the Love of the Sport

Except I am miserable at sports.  (Those of you who shared in the torture of high school gym with me can probably attest to this fact.)  So perhaps for the love of the game might have been a more appropriate title for this blog entry.  And for me the game has always been and will always be writing.

And after years of one foot in and one foot out, I'm making changes to put more energy into my writing career because without its presence in my life, everything else falls a little flat.  Of course this renewed dedication comes at a cost.  Laundry will take longer to get done or may walk itself into the washer on its own.  (Matthew's tennis socks, I'm speaking directly to you!)  And of course don't forget Mother's Guilt.  Yes my children will only be young once (read Leah Ferguson's sublime blog post about letting children go here), but then again I only get to be young once, too!  Or the fear of failure, a tremendous black shadow that literally climbs into my lungs and chokes me until I shut down the laptop, because I don't just want to write anything.  I want to write good things.  Meaningful things.  I recognize the buzz I feel in the pit of my stomach when I read an incredible line.  I tell folks about it.  I copy it in the corner of a planner or journal to savor because my life changes with the words.  There is an infinitesimal but important shift in my brain. All because an author wrote something good.

And to move forward in this dream that started when I wrote "The Cat and the Quilt" in first grade, I need a game plan.

Step One: Apply to several strong MFA programs.  (One has already written back, so no matter what I'm going somewhere. :-)

Step Two: Write more deeply.  I want to be a better writer.  I want to learn the craft as well as I humanly can, and to do this, I have to push myself out of the genres I tend to live in.  Explore new territories.  Read more variety.  Stretch myself.

Step Three: Advertise.  Not self-advertise so much, but if I announce my intentions to the big wide world, they have to happen, right?

Step Four: Take advantage of mentors.  I know so many phenomenal writers and professionals who often offer help, but there's always a reason I say no.  I'm busy.  I'm scared my work won't measure up.  I'm intimidated.  Nope, no more.

Step Five: Remember the endgame.  I write to write to write.  I do not write because I think I'll be the next JK Rowling or plan to see my face on a poster at B and N.  (I'm not saying those things wouldn't be cool. :-)  But the writing should always be the focus.  Often at writing conferences folks are hung up on social media, marketing, and self-publishing without a solid piece of writing or desire to learn the craft.  

Step Six: ENJOY.  I get to live a writer's life, along with my other insanely fun careers (teacher, wife, and mother).  Being a writer makes all my other jobs that much richer, and I'm thrilled that I discovered it in my life so long ago.  

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