Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Writing Resume Effects

I constantly review my writing resume.  This morning, while reviewing it for the thousandth time, I thought “Am I obsessed?”  The answer is yes!  I am an obsessed writer.  Naturally, the unpublished pieces list outnumbers the published pieces list, but I still keep track of everything I write and everything I submit for publication. 
Do other writers do this?  I don’t know.  Yet, I find it an excellent way to view my progress and success if you want to call it that.  Then I think, “What is success?”  This can be measured in so many forms and it subjective to each of us.  Yet, when I view my published list it solidifies my efforts, boosts my confidence, and reinforces the fact that I am a writer!  Those are my successes.
            The unpublished list actually has a positive effect as well.  It gives me motivation to submit pieces that were passed up by one publication with the hope of another publication running them.  I do this quite often.  Call it resubmitting, call it not taking “No” for an answer, or call it stubbornness.  I call it diligence!  Along with persistence, determination, perseverance, and a hundred other adjectives I can use to describe myself, diligence is at the top of my list.  Do you know how many times James Lee Burke was rejected?  I actually read somewhere that Stephen King has a pile of rejection letters too! 
            Am I saying I’m the next best-selling author?  Of course not!  I am saying that a rejection letter isn’t personal.  The publication business is just that – a business!  While my piece may not work for one, it may be a perfect fit for another.  How will I know unless I submit? 
            Like I said earlier, I keep track of everything I write and everything I have published.  So, just for the record, this blog piece represents the 70th piece of prose I have written.  “What is prose?” you ask.  Prose is anything that is not poetry. 
If you don’t have a writing resume, let me encourage you to start one.  Keep track of it all.  Although your list may never impress anyone else, pretty soon it will impress you!  After all, that is the only thing that really matters.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Finding Your Voice

Another first in my life came today at my father-in-law’s funeral.  Some people can count on one hand the number of funerals they’ve attended, but not me.  I don’t know how many funerals I’ve attended.  My parents took me to funerals when I was little and growing up it was a normal but sad affair.  We all know the service routine:  visit, sit, listen to a few sad heart-wrenching songs when our emotions are raw enough, listen to someone speak about the deceased, listen to the preacher, hear another song or two, view the body, console the family, exit, wait outside for the body to be brought to the hearse, then finish up at the cemetery.  It is all so daunting and emotionally draining, but all of those things are part of the grieving process to say goodbye for ourselves because the deceased is no longer in his or her body.  We go through the process to respect their life and start healing our own life.
            In all the funerals I’ve seen, I’ve always wondered how family members of the deceased found the courage to stand up and speak.  My husband’s cousin did it at his own mother’s funeral.  When my brother died, another brother stood up, found his voice and spoke.  He had strength that day that I did not have.  I’ve always been too overcome with grief to utter a single word.  Oh, one time I really tried, at my dad’s funeral.  But failed when it came for me to stand because my legs wouldn’t work and my voice wouldn’t come.  I wanted to with all my heart, but physically and emotionally I failed myself.
            Today though, I overcame that.  I composed something and distributed it to family and friends.  It was a short piece, around 150 words.  I made a homemade brochure and thought it would help others the way it helped me.  When Mr. Curt Iles, a very special friend of our family who performed the service, asked me to read it aloud to the audience I made up my mind that I would really try, again.  Although I knew the words, I went outside and read it aloud to myself one final time.  As usual, I choked up.  A few minutes before the service was to start, I was still unsure if I could follow through.
            1:00 came, the first song started, and as I sat there and glanced down at the paper in my hand, silent tears flooded my eyes and a lump formed in my throat.  I fought those things the best I could, wiped my eyes, and tried instead to concentrate on the words of the Merle Haggard song playing softly overhead to get my mind off of what I was about to do.  The next thing I knew, the song ended, Mr. Iles introduced me, and I stood.
I wasn’t nervous to speak in front of people.  That has never bothered me.  Inside, I was battling a fear far greater than public speaking.  My heart is so sentimental and tender, I knew I would cry and be unable to finish once I started.  Then, there I would be standing like an idiot with people waiting for a sound, a word, a sentence that wasn’t coming.  That was my fear!  Yet, I stood at the podium and looked down at my piece.  My legs jumped with nervous anxiety and my heart raced.  Still, my mouth did not open.  I stood there for a good thirty seconds staring at my paper in silence.  It was probably really only ten seconds or so, but it was a noticeable pause; the whole time I was trying to subdue the enormous lump in my throat that seemed as stubborn as I am.  I won!
Finally, softly I spoke the first word.  Wanting to do it right for my husband, my mother, my father-in-law, and the rest of our family and friends, I knew I must read slowly, use proper inflections when necessary, and look up periodically at the audience staring at me.  I did all those things.  I did lose my voice a few times.  I also paused at one especially touching place for what seemed like forever.  I finished the piece with tears in my eyes, a cracking voice, and a courage that came with finally being able to speak at a funeral.  It was one of the emotionally hardest things I’ve ever done, but I did it.  I did it.  I found my voice!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Too Many Irons in the Fire

How come some are more prone to getting involved, NO overly involved, in everything than others?  Is it my fault I was born under the astrological sign of Aries? 

I have so many irons in the fire, it gets overwhelming at times.  For example:  Along with having a full-time job, I am a writer (and actively submit and pitch my writings – only to receive rejection letters for half of what I submit); I am the president of East Beauregard Little Dribblers in Dry Creek (and coach two teams); I am also the president of Bayou Writers’ Group in Lake Charles; am a member of the Beauregard Writers’ Guild; I donate monthly to the United Way campaign for Abraham’s Tent in Lake Charles and the Council on Aging in DeRidder; each year I take an angel from the Angel Tree in DeRidder to buy an unknown child gifts for Christmas (which I must do soon before they are all gone!); and I even submitted a slogan to the city of DeRidder when they asked the public to participate!  (Mine wasn’t chosen, but I participated.)  Plus, I’m usually an avid deer hunter, but this year too much is going on and I’ve only been once!  Every few months, my husband and I find time to visit the Humane Society where we adopted two Persian cats a few years ago.  I don’t really know why we keep going back when two cats are enough! I follow all of that up with constantly having my nose in a book, and am now reading Gone With the Wind (again!).  Not to mention trying to remember to pay bills ON TIME – notice I said trying, unsuccessfully keeping groceries in the house, and needing to buy a few Christmas things which I have yet to do!! Amongst all this, throw in a 13-year-old and I tell you “SOMEBODY SHOOT ME, PLEASE!”   

If I was only wealthy, I shutter to think of the things I would do for my community and those in it!

How does all this happen?  At times I get so frustrated at my own motivation I could strangle me, or even lock myself in my room and never come out!  But, if I had it to do all over again I’d do the same thing.  It’s just the way I am.  I get involved.  I told someone the other day, “We only go around once, so we need to make the best of it!”  She smiled and naturally agreed.  Yet, I think there are only a handful of us that over do it.

Just wondering why we all can’t be born an Aries?  We’d all be stressed out, but it’s worth it.