Throwing Caution to the Wind

May 15th, 2019 11:43 AM

Yesterday, I did something wildly optimistic. I should preface this story by saying that I do believe that I am an optimistic person in general. I’m no Pollyanna, mind you, but I choose to look for the upside in the day to day challenges and the occasional larger grenades life throws at me.

There is one area of my life that I am not an optimist, however. Trying to launch a career in writing. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Ever since I was little, and learned to fall in love with books, I knew I wanted to be the person who wrote a book someone else would fall in love with.

I grew up in a practical middle-class family with a mother who warned me against pursuing a career that would be difficult to succeed in. These are a few of the statements she’d often make: “Very few make it.” “It’s a long-shot.” “Pursue it as a hobby but go into something that will let you take care of yourself if you need to.”

This was actually very good advice. All of it was true, including needing to support myself. When I went to college, I took as many writing courses as I could cram into my English requirements, but my major was Communications. I did pair it with an English minor with a writing emphasis, instead of Marketing like my advisor suggested.

I didn’t end up going into Communications but I did find a career I enjoyed, was well-suited for and allowed me to take care of myself and my son when I needed to. Writing took a backseat to life. I still did it, but only for my own consumption. I never submitted my work anywhere to be published.

A year ago, I decided to get serious about finishing the novel I started in 2001. I entered into one on one coaching with a published author, Kathie Giorgio. I joined a class with her small company, AllWriters’ Workshop &Workplace. I wrote, I revised, I critiqued. I made writing a priority for the first time in my life and I loved it.

I also learned that it’s very helpful to have short works – poetry or short stories – published before trying to publish a novel. I struggled with this for close to nine months. I am not a short story writer. I’ve tried, but they end up too big. I have works-in-progress that started out as short stories and are now sixty pages into being a novel.

I have written poetry, but only for myself. I suspect it’s terrible since I don’t know much about how to write poetry. I do have this blog, where I basically write short memoirs, but they’re written informally and again, for myself, so I wasn’t optimistic that they’d be a candidate for publication anywhere.

After almost a year in coaching, my book is now completed. I’m finishing up my last few revisions and I will be ready to start the process of trying to get it published within a few weeks. The pressure to get something small published, so I have some publication credit that’s recent, was mounting. (I have publication credits but they are from twenty-five years ago when I was doing some freelance writing for magazines and such.)

Two weeks ago, I found an online site which was looking for stories about moms to be submitted for their May issue. I thought about my blog and when I wrote about my mom going into hospice care two years ago. I combined a couple of blog entries from that time, made a few changes and sent it off as a short memoir submission. Normally, I would have my writing coach review it and give feedback before I’d submit anything, but I didn’t have time as the deadline to submit was just a few days away.

The day the site was going to publish the stories came and went and I didn’t hear anything from them. I’d pretty much forgotten about it until I received an email yesterday telling me my story was published on their site. What?!

I immediately went to look and there it was, my words with a photo they’d chosen to complement the story. It’s on a site called The Story Pub. I actually published something. And not a newspaper article, but something creative that was born out of my experience, not recounting someone else’s. This is a first for me.

It. Was. So. Cool.

When I told my husband about it, he asked me if I got paid for it. That wasn’t so cool at all. That’s a blog topic for another day, though.

Even though I didn’t make money for getting my story published, it feels pretty great to think that someone else liked something I wrote enough to put it on their literary website. So what’s the wildly optimistic thing I did yesterday? It’s a little thing, something I wouldn’t normally think twice about, but yesterday, it was meaningful to me. I created a new folder in my outlook inbox entitled, Acceptance letters.

            I’m hoping and anticipating that there will be more.

acceptance

12:30 PM

A Snap Shot of Life

May 15, 2018 10:41 am
Last week, I received my notification from Word Press that my blog, One and Done, would renew for another year in June. I was surprised to receive it. It doesn’t seem like a year has gone by already. A lot has happened since then. A lot hasn’t happened since then. A lot of writing that is.

I started One and Done committing to write an hour a day as way to get back into the flow of writing with the intent to finish the rough draft of a book I’ve been working on forever. It was my way to get the creative juices flowing again if you’ll pardon the cliché’. And that did happen for awhile. A few weeks of steady writing. Then a few months of sporadic writing. And lots of months of silence.

And now this. The email reminder. The line in the sand moment, so to speak. Do I renew for another year and invest $38.95 in a promise which didn’t turn out to be as much of a promise as a wish the last time I made it? Or do I cancel it and use the $38.95 to take my husband out to dinner? Admit defeat that writing one hour a day is too daunting of a task?

Admittedly, a life-changing event happened early on in my endeavor that I hadn’t anticipated when I started One and Done and it derailed me. The event caused my world to shift in a way that will never be righted. For a long time, sorting out the event and what my new life looked like seemed to be all I wanted to write about (I’ve got many, many composed entries that I never committed to paper swirling around in my brain from the past year). But I didn’t want this blog to sad and dedicated to loss. I didn’t have a specific theme when I started it (which is a problem), but I knew and I still believe, it’s not meant to be about living in the past. It’s about now. Being present and creative for one hour a day. Can I do that? Do I still want to?

Do I or don’t I hit the renew button? As of last week Tuesday, I decided I don’t. I hit the cancel button and admitted defeat. Not a big deal, right? I’m sure there are more people who give up on blogs than ones who actually stick to them. Not doing a blog doesn’t mean I still can’t write.

Even though I cancelled the blog, I didn’t stop thinking about it. Which I was doing last weekend when I was finally able to bring myself to go through the boxes of old photo’s from my mother’s house. They’ve been sitting in my sewing room in the rec room of the basement in a storage cabinet that I purchased for the purpose of hanging on to the items from my parent’s house that I wanted to keep. They were the last bit of her personal items that I haven’t gone through yet. Probably not the best time timing to do this task – right before my first Mother’s Day without my mother, but I felt like it was the right time.

It wasn’t as hard to do as I anticipated, and I actually enjoyed the memories some of the old snapshots brought back. Some of the people in the pictures I didn’t know, but I wish I did. I wish my mom had jotted just a name on the back of them so I could tie their faces back to an old story or even the family tree I’ve been working on in Ancestory.com

Which gave me an idea. An idea for a theme for my blog. What if I write about one moment that is worth remembering each day? Some moments may be funny, happy, or sad. But they will be my written snapshot of life. As the days race by and meld into years, it would be nice to have a way to go back and remember the ordinary happenstances that make up a life. One day and one hour at a time.

After ruminating on the idea for a few days, this morning I logged into Word Press and clicked the Renew button. I committed the $38.95 for another year. And I’m committing to do better with my posting, too, with a few changes.

While I would like to commit an hour a day to One and Done, realistically, that’s not going to happen for a variety of reasons. Some days, especially weekends, are busy because it’s the time Dennis and I get to spend together the most. Other days are still hard for me with my mom being gone, and I won’t have it in me to write. Excuses? Maybe. But allowing that they’re likely to happen will make it more likely for me to meet my goal.

So I’m changing up the rules a bit. This year, my goal is to post three to four times a week. Maybe more, if I’m on a roll, but not less. I will still keep the one hour format. Once my hour is up, I’m done. I try to stop writing five minutes before the hour so I can spell check, but if I write too long, I hope you’ll forgive the occasional error.

I’m going to change up the name slightly, too. When I started the blog, I named it One and Done with the tagline “Learning to let go one hour at a time”. My intent when I wrote it was referring to letting go of constant revision thus the rule of writing and publishing a post in one hour. However, the tagline proved to be very ironic when my mom died several weeks after I started the blog. Now when I read it, it no longer has the original meaning to me anymore, so the tagline has to go.

The new name of my blog is One and Done 2.0 – A Snapshot of Life. The tagline is now, “Capturing life, one hour at a time”. I’ll hope you’ll join me in my journey as I create the 2018 memory album of our life.
May 15, 2018 11:35 am
5 16 18
My little buddies hanging out with me while I write.