Being on top of a mountain always makes me grateful.  Today, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for Harper Lee and Isaac (always) and the opportunity they’ve had this week to hang out with their grandmother.  

I’m grateful for my writing buddies and for kindred spirits who love a good story as much as I do.

I’m grateful for peace and quiet, naps, and good books, for Sharpies and fireplaces and good conversation around the table. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from those who have lived longer than I.

I’m grateful for a husband who not only doesn’t mind if I go to the mountain top to write and be alone with my thoughts but also encourages it as if he fully expects me—wants me–  to pursue my dreams.

I’m grateful for laptops and paper—stacks and stacks and stacks of paper—and sticky notes and hi-liters.  I’m grateful for good editors, good friends and good stories.

The fall writing retreat has been a success even if I didn’t get through quite as much work as I had imagined.  I have a terrible habit of thinking I can accomplish WAY more in a short period of time than is actually possible.  Still, my continued confusion about how much time it actually takes to complete a project has resulted in a fairly large body of work, so even though I often find myself sighing at the end of the day and thinking, “Gosh, I thought I’d have more of this done by now,” I still manage to get a load of work done on a regular basis.

Looking at all of it spread out before me makes me grateful.  And a little bit amazed.  OK—really AMAZED. 

As always, I’ve also enjoyed hearing fantastic stories and watching transformations take place as we journey through this process known as writing. 

And it is a process.  Sometimes it’s a scary one.  More than once this week, I’ve looked at the mess before me and thought, “This is never going to be done.”  After two years, the finish line for this novel is still so far away it scares me.  I wonder if I’ll have the guts to keep going.  I wonder if it will be good.  I wonder if I have done my character justice or if I’ve even told a story worth telling. 

I think I will and that I have, but there is always that pesky negative voice saying, “Yeah, but…”

It was when that voice began whispering in my ear today that I happened to accidentally unearth this little gem from a year ago:

October, 2012

So in addition to drinking hot tea and resting as I recuperate from this elementary school plague that has descended on me, I’m also writing bad poetry today.

In a burst of artistic enthusiasm, I agreed to be a featured poet at the Foothills Arts Council’s poetry reading in a couple of weeks. 

Poet.

I am not a poet.

I write essays, creative non-fiction and fiction.  Period.

What was I thinking?

I blame Shannon Kinney-Duh and the awesome women in her Inside Out class, which, sadly, ended last week but that I’m still working on since I fell behind.

One of the challenges of the class was to do something scary—not dangerous, bodily harm scary but out of our comfort zone scary.  So when the arts council director asked me if I wrote poetry, I said yes.

What the heck, I thought.  It’ll be fun. 

I thought that because it was over a month away, and I often think things sound like fun when they’re off in the distance.

Yet, here I am, with less than two weeks to go, and all I have are bad poems and pieces of short essays.  In other words, a hot mess.

So today, I’m writing bad poetry and getting it down onto paper.  When I put the pressure on myself to write something worthy of a public poetry reading, what I get are bad poems.  Maybe if I set out with the intention of writing a bad poem, what I get will be worthy of a public poetry reading.

Either way, it’s out there now.  I’m on the program.  There’s no backing out now. 

Here’s to doing something that scares you.

 

And the poem I wrote that day?  It was Forgiveness, a poem that got me into the Top 10 Finalists for the Poet Laureate Award by the North Carolina Poetry Society and was chosen for the upcoming Touring Theater of North Carolina’s production of Deployed.

So, yes, here’s to doing something that scares you.  To not getting too caught up in expectations.  To creating the work and then seeing where it leads.

To the journey.

*Photos are courtesy of Rebecca and her handy-dandy phone since I brought my camera but no battery. 

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