One thing I struggle with in all these endeavors is if I’m biting off more than I can chew. For the past couple of years I’ve been motivated by a seeming fear of my life ending at 30 or something—like if I don’t get cracking on everything I want to do with my life ever RIGHT NOW time will run out and the rest of my life will be spent in complete drudgery. It makes no sense, I know—but neither do a lot of fears.
Incidentally, when I venture out to meet other folks interested in what I’m interested in (djembe class, the SCBWI event, the Celtic music session, the Cotati Accordion Festival), more often then not the people there are my parents’ age or older, many of them retirees who want to make the most of their free time. And that helps keep me grounded.
Life seems to speed up as you get older, I’ve observed, but there’s a big difference between me now and me half my life ago. I’m sure when I’m double my current age it’ll be the same thing. I’ll grow and change, hopefully for the better, and while my brain’s plasticity may be more limited, I’ll hopefully be a lot wiser than I am now.
The other day I was talking to my friend and expressed some mild frustration with myself. I don’t tend to dive right into things; I circle them from several hundred feet above and pretend I’ll make it down there eventually. The problem is that I tend to actually just keep myself in the same holding pattern for ages.
I’ve been meaning to join a ukulele group; I’ve been meaning to send my accordion in for repair; I’ve been meaning to sign up for a SCBWI critique group in my area. I’ve made baby steps in these directions, but have found convenient reasons to hold back (namely that the music store didn’t call me back; the accordion repair specialist’s workshop was inaccessible at them time due to remodeling; and I missed the most recent regional critique café meeting so I’m waiting around for the next one… which will be in several months). I do like to wallow in complacency, don’t I?
Summer is right around the corner, and I work in public education. That means I have ten weeks of unpaid vacation. I need to make some phone calls and figure out what I’m doing with it.
I finally did it—I attended an SCBWI event. And it was totally worth it.
A neighboring regional chapter hosted a workshop on revision techniques yesterday, led by a local professional (bestselling) author. It was truly fantastic, and completely worth the 45-minute drive.
I’m still in that gap between Draft 2 and 3 on the novel I started in 2010. There are a few parts that I know need to be rewritten that I’ve been avoiding. After yesterday’s workshop I realize I’ve been avoiding rewriting it because it’s actually boring. I’ve got my work cut out for me—and a lot of different tacks I can take.
Another memorable takeaway from the workshop was an exercise in determining a story’s theme. “It’s 10 years after the events of your story. Imagine that you’re at a bar or a coffee shop and your main character sits down next to you. You get to talking, and the character recounts his or her experiences. Then you ask, ‘So what did you learn from all of that?’ What does your character reply?”
That’s one I’m going to be chewing on for a bit.
This week I had the chance to go to a rock and gem show with a dear geologist friend, and half the enjoyment was watching her getting excited and talking about all the rocks on display. She met several folks with the same interests and made a few new friends in the few hours we were there. Her passion is gemology and jewelry making (I own a few of her pieces, gifts from various holidays past) and she has a real talent and good artistic eye.
There is tremendous value in community, as I was reminded watching my friend today. It’s soul-enriching to meet people who love the same things you do and want to share in the joy of them. I suppose that should be on my goal list this year—to find communities for my own interests. SCBWI meetups, local music groups and classes… it’s all a bit scary for a shy person like me. But I think complacent isolation makes the fear and self-doubt ghosts seem bigger, and limits my growth.
Also: got my (fixed) harp back! No excuses for not practicing now.
Wanting to remind myself of how serious I am about writing, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators this week. It’s something I’ve been looking at for a long time, and with this second draft finished and revisions underway I feel like I could get more use out of the resources it offers. That is, if I can concentrate and apply myself enough. Maybe one day I’ll have the money and the body of work and the confidence to attend their New York conference.
I’ve also taken in one of my aforementioned folk instruments, a little lever harp, in for repairs. A couple of the levers have gotten buzzy and I’ve been using that as an excuse not to practice. Sending it in is not only to remove that excuse, though; it’s also to remind me how much I enjoy it. Somehow, even with how I’ve been slacking at practicing, not having it in the house makes me miss it, and more resolved to keep at it once it comes back.
My self-discipline has been lacking recently, even at work. I need to watch less TV and remember where my passions lie.