Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Every writer needs a creed. Here's mine.

About five years ago, when my career needed a major shake-up after a lengthy hiatus for child-rearing, I decided I would do two things:

1. Stretch, especially in ways that I think, for various reasons, are off-limits to me.
2. Say YES.

Usually, the YES part comes first. "Yes I can do that," I say, with a confident smile on my face, all the while thinking, "How the hell I am going to do THAT?" Still, these two mandates have led me to many great places. Lately, I've added a third: Do what scares me.

Which leads me this: I'm writing fiction. Yup, three (probably very bad) rough drafts of short stories have somehow appeared on my desk. It doesn't look like "this fiction thing" is going away; but it also isn't going to take center stage. So, I'm just engaging with it, writing a bit every day, saying yes. The scary part: I've always understood how important it is to incorporate some of the elements of fiction when writing nonfiction; BUT discovering that the opposite is not entirely true -- that some of the foundation stones of memoir and personal essay don't translate to the act of writing of fiction -- was quite disconcerting at first.

I also said YES this month to judging a writing contest for a local arts organization, and to co-chairing plans for a master class series for MEWS (Montclair Editors & Writers Society). Neither of these two things fall into the scary department, except maybe in the sense of finding the time. But I don't sleep that much.

By the way, these three mandates don't always turn out fabulously. Road bumps have ensued. I've made a few dumb choices. Rejections seem to multiply. But they seem manageable. So, not so scary.

On the other hand, the high school reunion coming up in five weeks – the one I still can't decide to attend or not? Now, that's scary.


Laraine Herring said...

Welcome to the world of fiction, Lisa! :-) We have a big tent! ha.

Re:reunion -- my 20 year reunion was three years ago. I didn't go -- everyone I would have wanted to see I was already still in touch with, but it did (& I think still continues) to affect me as I find myself truly in middle age & trying to define what that means for me.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I didn't go to mine in 2006, and this year I discovered facebook. I had now idea that people not only remembered me, but wanted to keep in touch, wondering where I'd been. I'd thought about my high school classmates over the years, but had no idea it was reciprocated. My best friend went to a different high school, so I was never very involved in my own. I wish I had gone, because I realized that I missed out on getting to know some really nice people better, and it would have been fun to see them live instead of just virtually. Good luck with your decision, just have no regrets either way :)