The rest of my year is shaping up to be full of writing activities, time with family, work and moving regularly. I am actively exploring Kemetic Yoga and dancing around in my own house for these options. I also decided to spend more time reading. One of my current reads, “Rockaway: Surfing Headlong Into a New Life” is about a 40-something journalist and divorcee who challenges herself to become a surfer. It reminds me of my goal to continue competing as a Strongwoman. This is no surprise as reading has always made me want to dip my toes into worlds I have yet to explore be that with travel, athletics or activism.
I have a tendency to pile on but letting reading take me somewhere else never leaves me feeling like that. It inspires me to write better, look for the detail and cultivate understanding. I attended James River Writers Conference over the weekend and served as a ShopTalk expert with the topic “How to Own Your Story: Getting Your Truth on the Page.” It was invigorating to listen and dispense advice to other writers and part of me wished I could jet off to the future to hold their finished works in my hands.
We were told at the conference that being a literary citizen is writing, reading is writing and good conversation can be writing. I believe this to be true because when I am engaged in any of these things, I find spirit lifted and I feel nudged to get to a pen and jot these experiences down.
I am hosting the second session of the virtual open mic poetry series “From the Page to the Mic” with Henrico County Public Library this Saturday and the last on November 13th. I am attending a showcase at my sister’s pole studio next weekend and an author’s signing in December. I will be bending, stretching, dancing, writing, reading, listening, supporting and watching others’ art. I can’t think of a better way to grow into the kind of writer I want to be.
Yesterday, I had pages critiqued I sent to my classmates on Sunday evening. I chose to rework what I had written in response to the prompt “I lied when I said.” The critiques opened me up to a multitude of ways to address how I want to proceed with my novel. One of which was to try to turn it into a short story about 25 pages in length.
Even though I recognized it before, when I write I want to rush. Racing to get to the end I was envisioning as I begin to write is the culprit. The result is leaving my readers wanting more, more setting, more background information, what was he/she wearing?
I don’t know why I have been in a rush to materialize an ending.
So that is what I will be working on using this week’s prompt. Slowing down to craft a more complete piece. To leave readers needing less when it’s all said and done.
Spending time with my family has proved to be a form of self-care and self-awareness. I love being with them but I now realize how much it takes out of me to engage with people I love, especially after having a rough couple of weeks (and who am I kidding–months). I wanted to be there for all of it but I found myself crashing pretty hard in the evenings. I even dealt with feelings of guilt for not being able to put on a more exuberant and fresh face but everyone understood.
Artist’s Way update: I didn’t really start The Artist’s Way but I read the Foreward and the Introduction. I also started writing my morning pages which is supposed to be 3 pages of stream of consciousness journaling with no expectations attached. I plan on diving into the first chapter tomorrow. Just like previous journaling practice, I feel more centered after doing it. It’s as if my brain believes it has accomplished a great feat first thing in the morning.
I was looking forward to seeing if morning pages would affect my anxiety level throughout the day. I can confidently say I was calmer right after but since I wasn’t in my usual environment, it is hard to gauge if it made much of a difference after that.
Today, I wrote and prayed and walked and worked and trusted.
Trusted that I left on my heart and my most hopeful, erratic, loving thoughts on the page.
Yesterday, I received two kinds of news. We’ll start with the “negative.” I submitted two pieces to a literary magazine. Both were rejected. However, my reaction was a sigh and guess what? I’ll have something else to add to my collection.
Let me explain. Last year, I got my first official rejection from an agent I sent requested pages to after the James River Writers’ Conference 2016. The email was kind and encouraging but she just didn’t connect with the work. I called my sister (younger but so wise and confident–I believe she was secretly reading HR Manuals and Personal Development books while the rest of us were struggling with our ABCs).
After telling her what happened, she practically congratulated me! “You got your first rejection. You should print it out and hang it on your wall!” I was a little puzzled but it quickly became clear: It means I tried! It means I put myself out there! It means I actually had pages to send the agent! It means that this is the first of many so I better keep going!
I never forgot that conversation. I have saved every rejection and kept every pitch I sent out no matter the result. They are my treasures, too. I look forward to perusing them when I’ve “made it.”
On to the second kind of news. I have been asked to be a guest on a podcast! I will follow-up soon with more details. Also, the post I wrote about the 2017 Pop-Up Conference with Sharvette Mitchell was featured on her website: http://www.mitchell-productions.com. For me, the point I want to drive home is to keep going. Look forward to the failures. It means you put yourself in the arena and choose not to sit on the sidelines.
This is all I can ask of myself.
Your turn: How do you deal with rejection? Has your perspective changed as you have gotten older?