Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Treasure Trove

Over the weekend, I moved some of my belongings out of storage and into my now not quite so new apartment. One of the items was a two-drawer wood filing cabinet that my dad bought me one year for Christmas. As I was going through the drawers, I found a treasure trove of folders full of abandoned manuscripts, some dating back to when I was in my early 20s.

I spent the afternoon reading tales of alien owned bookstores, dragons, magical mirrors, deceased mothers and prodigal daughters returning home. One manuscript was eerily similar to the horror manuscript I’m working on now. I found notebooks crammed full of story ideas, sketched out plots and character descriptions. I even found instructional materials from a Writer’s Digest Writing to Sell Fiction correspondence course I completed.

I opened one folder to find a surprise: a note dated April 26, 1987 scrawled on the inside front cover from a former newspaper editor I worked with. He wrote:

I found the story entertaining and very well written. The question mark changes I made are backed by the Associated Press book on my desk (the blue one under the dictionary). Otherwise, good folksy grammar and dialect. I think this will sell somewhere. You’ve got my vote.

 Those were the halcyon days of my youth when I was writing and submitting my work to magazines and accumulating a wealth of rejection slips in the process. And learning, most importantly. I was working at and learning my craft.

I’m older now. I’ve gotten sidetracked but am finding my way back to the path I trod so eagerly twenty-odd years ago. Looking at these old manuscripts, I remember when writing was my passion and the simple act of putting words on paper infused me with joyous abandon.

Life’s funny that way. Detours, Road blocks, Switchbacks. All are necessary in the growth of a writer. While I’ve been running from writing, it’s always been there, waiting for me to come back to it. I’ve got to go. My muse is calling.

Resolved

It is mid-February and by this point I should be halfway through my horror novel. I’m not. I have not even begun. Well, not exactly. I have written the opening sentence. What, you’re asking? What happened to the writing goals I set out at the first of the year? Life happened.

I started a temporary position the third week in December. With no new writing projects in sight, it was a simple matter of economics – keep a roof over my head or live on the street. Having been there, done that once already, I wasn’t willing to do it all over again. Between the mind numbing job, a lingering illness and my mother’s health issues, I have not written anything.

I should amend the above sentence. I have written some things – a few jokes for my upcoming comedy routine, a poem and, did I mention, the first sentence of my novel. I have also become involved in a collaborative group writing project (the details which I can’t disclose as yet) and extended my writing services to a local theater group. In the past, I would be berating myself for failing to meet my goals. The newer, mature version of myself accepts this happens and sometimes the down time reveals your true path to you.

I have been questioning whether or not I was meant to be a writer. Sure, I call myself a writer. But I don’t write. That’s a little like saying you’re reading a book but you’re still on the first sentence. However, the mind numbing job made me realize I don’t want to do it for the rest of my life. If there is a hell, hell is scheduling fingerprinting appointments and repeating the same words over and over and over and over and over…well, you get the picture.

The past week I’ve realized what made me happiest was writing. The perks of being my own boss and working my own hours weren’t bad either. Yes, I recognize I may still need to work to support myself until I land enough work to keep me afloat, but I’m seeking writing positions. I am applying for a journalism position in Alaska and offering my writing services to local businesses. It took the job to make me realize that, yes, I am a writer and this is the path I want to follow.

To that end, I am applying the following 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right Fucking Now): http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/01/03/25-things-writers-should-stop-doing/. If this doesn’t motivate me, nothing will.