On the first day of the Joshua Tree retreat in July, Beth asks us why we are here. Then she asks us why we are really here. “Now,” she says, “why are you really, really here?” Each time to my surprise a deeper answer comes. Later in my courtyard this same kind of layered knowing unfolds for me. I am writing in my notebook about my new idea to begin a second memoir, one that is just about me and not about my big lost love. I dream of committing to writing one piece for this new project each week in addition to my blog post, how making choices about what goes into the book and what goes on the blog might be confusing. (This is already happening to me with the book I’m working on now.) Without knowing, I forget to keep the pen moving across the page. I think about how I have aimed myself at this book contest deadline against all logic. And since the winner won’t be chosen until next summer, how maybe I’ll send the manuscript to Graywolf Press, how I’d like to send it to whoever published All We Know of Love, as well. So maybe I won’t wait for the contest results, only send up a prayer for the best right thing to happen. I drift on to the idea of entering contests again more often, writing new short pieces, too, while I work on my novel. And in the middle of my daydreams a Cooper’s Hawk swoops in. The doves scatter in forty directions. I duck in my chair, shoulders hunched to my ears. The hawk tries to land on the bottom ledge of the wooden fence beside the gate, but she can’t find purchase. So she launches herself back into the air, fanned tail almost close enough to touch, and sails over the roof of my neighbors’ trailer. Everything goes silent in the courtyard. But inside I am whooping. This dramatic whooshing in big strong wings feels like a sign from the universe telling me to keep writing, keep entering contests, begin pursuing publication. And I hear even more than this big “Yes!” beneath the wingbeats. Under them I hear another yes that says this is where your heart leads. This is your passion, your path. Follow. Follow. I am incandescent for a day, this validation shiny and new inside me. And then if I am honest this message feels like a promise. Keep writing. Keep trusting. Everything will be okay. More than okay. This is the right direction to aim yourself. We will help. It makes me want to cry.
Hi Riba, I love that you’re focusing on your writing and creating objectives and goals for where that writing should go. I suspect most writers work best with a deadline, even if self-imposed — maybe it’s even *best* that way. I’m glad you’re choosing places that publish work you already admire. Writing is about expressing ourselves, of course, but it’s also a way to connect with others. That’s why submitting and getting published is so important. Hang in there.
And this was a gorgeous post — beautifully rendered, thoughtful… and exactly what I needed to read on this cloudy Monday!
Oh, thanks so much, Bart! :)
You probably already know that until now I haven’t pursued publication, only contests. But I am looking into a handful of general submission options now and hope to act on some soon. Once my third round on this manuscript is done, I am hopeful about writing some new short work to enter more contests with! And to becoming immersed in my novel again. I guess I should look at what sort of deadline I might aim for for that project! Maybe this same book contest next fall? Though surely I will need other signposts for myself along the way, as well. ;-)
Thanks again for reading my work and adding your thoughts here. I always appreciate it so much. Oh, and for enjoying my work, too! What a gift for me to have. . . .
You know, I am so eager to complete these two books after all these long years. I am hopeful to then feel free to choose my first new big project in over a decade! And yet at the same time, I think letting go of both the books may be a loss, too. And I am a little bit afraid about how it might feel when I am free to choose whatever I want to work on next. :)
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Beautifully written- so moving..
Thank you so much! “Moving” is oh so lovely to hear.
Oh, and I love your name. :)
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