For most people, it takes discipline to blog. For me, it takes discipline NOT to blog.
So much of my writing time gets absorbed by my essay length entries about my country adventures, that several weeks ago I decided if I was every going to finish my book in progress, I’d need to take a blog sabbatical. And that is what I did.
The good news is, I’ve just completed my memoir project. I still need to do some rewriting and tweaking, but the basic skeleton of the novel is in place. I’ve even written query letters for agents or editors, though I won’t send them out until the book is truly polished. I’m aiming for the end of November. Unlike my historical novels, which are difficult to place because they straddle the line between commercial romance and literary historical, (thanks to too many rewrites and my drastic evolution as a writer) the memoir has a distinctly marketable subject matter. It’s timely, and thanks to it being an “after the MFA” project, I can honestly say it is far better than my previous work. Anyway, I have high hopes for it.
I’ve also spent this time off applying myself to building a writer’s dossier. I joined AWP(Association of Writers and writing programs) to set up a career services file and made requests for letters of recommendation from professors, put together a resume, worked on a writing sample, and tried to drum up some teaching experience. I’ve made arrangements to teach memoir writing at the arts association of Blue Ridge (no easy feat to set up considering this will be new subject matter in the program) and contacted Appalachian Tech about trying some creative writing classes again, this time at their main facility. It’s frustrating, because I’d have so many outlets for teaching if I lived anywhere else, but here in the mountains, pick’ins are slim. Teaching, as you can guess, comes naturally to me. I don’t believe there is any better a way to celebrate your art and indulge your idealistic values than by teaching others. I’m as committed to teaching creative writing now as I once was about dance. So, I’m starting at the bottom and trying my best to find an outlet. And I’m diligently working on classroom material and a syllubus.
I applied for a two year fellowship at Emery University. The competition will be steep, and frankly, I fall short in the teaching experience category (which is a killer considering all my teaching experience in dance makes me a seasoned communicator, but still, it doesn’t count) so being selected for a fellowship at a fine school like Emery is a long shot, but I applied anyway. Sometimes, the act of trying is as valuable to your growth as succeeding. I’ve certainly learned a great deal by putting my packet together. Today I received confirmation that the department received my information. I swallowed, thinking “Did I do the best I could?” Of course, its too late to worry about that now. But I am glad I made the effort. Sucess begins with seeds of effort.
Mark says, “What if you actually did get it? Are you going to drive all the way to Atlanta everyday to teach at Emery? That will be a killer.”
True, but I’ll worry about that when and if it happens. Like I said, this is a long shot. But even so, I’m willing to go where I must go and do what I must do to build a foundation for this new career. You have to operate that way if you’re serious about your craft. I remember all the inconvenient and impractical (in a monetary terms) endeavors I undertook to build a dance career. Years later I could attribute much of my talent and experience to those early efforts. I can’t help but believe it will be the same for writing.
Anyway, this is why I haven’t been posting.
Now, I’m ready to resume my casual meandering about my reinvented life. Of course if I’m ever selected for a fellowship or teaching position, I’ll not be able to write about it, other than a general announcement and expression of glee. Blogging about my students, fellow teachers or employers is just too invasive and threatening to consider, even when you doubt they will ever stumble on the site. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that a blog is PUBLIC, even though it feels like an intimate exchange between friends.
Confidentiality is paramount to developing the intimate environment necessary for helping a student through the discomfort that surrounds personal growth as an artist. I’ve thought a lot about this. I’ve only been able to blog these past years because everyday adventures – animals, family and country living, are safe subjects, easy to address. I sure never could have blogged while owning FLEX. Eesh, the very thought makes me laugh. The potential for catastrophe would have been greater than the atomic bomb. Besides which, when the people involved in your livelihood are invited into your head, you can’t resist but to become on guard. You end up saying what you think they want to hear, or worse, sending subtle messages that deep down you wish you could say to their face. Either way, the work is affected. If you can’t be really honest, writing is a waste of ink.
So this is my announcement that I’m back. And since catching up is hard, I’ll just pretend you haven’t missed anything and write about whatever is going on in the present as if I didn’t take a break. If you missed all my riviting talk about llamas and chickens and bears, oh my, you won’t have to wait long for more . . .