Dancing outside my comfort zone

New people, new places, new things. Keeping it moving, one step at a time.

I had been searching for a local, friendly, helpful writer’s group for awhile. I’d tried a couple but felt no real connection. For awhile, I put the idea aside and focused on the important things like writing, organizing and decluttering. But this week, another group came to my attention and today I attended their first meeting. I do believe The Inklings, as our organizer dubbed us, is going to be just what I needed. Equal parts giving and getting the moral support we insecure, overly self-critical writers need. Although one fellow left after only a few minutes, it was clear that his intent was to promote his book. The rest of us were more inclined to be encouraging to everyone. This is a dynamic I can live with and more, I can thrive with. Had I found a group like this when I was as young as some of our members, might I have followed a different path?

How often do we speculate about the road not taken? Though the discussion is moot, we can’t keep ourselves from wondering. The human psyche seems to get a strange sort of satisfaction out of running “what if” scenarios on our own lives. I am happy to say that I no longer feel the need to dedicate much time to such pursuits. I know that the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned were necessary before I could be brave enough to follow a dream which began not long after I’d virtually inhaled hundreds of books. Reading and writing are as important to me as breathing, but writing and sharing what I write has taken many years of trial and error, another few years of learning that other people aren’t trying to tear me down personally. They’re simply using their own experiences and lessons to try to help me, in the end, produce something which won’t bore readers senseless.

The last year has been more of a gift than I ever imagined.

As I listened to the stories other people shared of the paths which led them to this group and to their writing, I realized that though I am only slightly closer to publishing my first book, this last year has allowed me to explore writing from many different angles. It has added books to my library, both paper and e-book, and taught me the importance of exposure through blogging and personal websites. It has forced me to think in terms of a website which will interest people outside of my personal circle of friends, and to lose some of the shyness I have when meeting strangers.

Sure, the website is still in the concept stage, but at least I finally have a topic. My blog has gotten a face lift and a new venue. Slowly but surely, people are learning about my little space on the web. And it is good. From this, I’ve learned that I need to encourage others to put a piece of themselves out there for the world to see. They may not always be kind, but really, isn’t it just words on a screen? Those words can be taken at face value, internalized or simply erased. Any of these choices are valid, and none of them are wrong. They are simply choices.

And speaking of choices (yes, my friends, ADHD must have its moment) while chatting with my fellow writers today, it came to me that instead of writing a memoir/self-help book about my parents’ suicides, I could fictionalize it. The opening act has been running through my mind all day, and goes something like this:

The blood drained from her face and her fingers were a matching shade of ghost white from holding the cordless phone in a death grip while listening to a voice on the other end imparting news no one ever wants to hear. The voice of a man who had been steady as a rock her whole life cracked and faded, tears taking the place of words from someone she’d only seen cry once before. The words “your mother is dead” echoed in her head seeking a place to rest but finding none as they simply made no sense. How could that woman, that constant, nagging voice which pressed every one of her buttons simply be silenced?
Vaguely, she registered the words “There’s more” as her father’s voice shattered into a million irretrievable pieces. Still clutching the phone, she slid down the wall against which she’d been leaning, barely registering the point where her butt hit the floor with a loud “Thump!” She’d surely feel the pain later, but for now she was numb. “Sh-she” her father struggled for words. What could possibly be worse than finding the lifeless body of his wife of forty years when he returned home from work? As he found his voice again, she wished she hadn’t asked.
“She took her own life.”
The phone clattered to the floor between her knees and she curled herself into the fetal position in some vague way hoping it would mean the whole conversation was nothing more than a bad dream. But that dream was being invaded by a low keening wail. She looked at the phone lying prone near her feet, but the sound was coming from somewhere above the floor. It was only when she heard her daughter ask “Mommy, why are you crying?” that she understood she was the source of the mournful sound.

Yes, you saw it here first. The opening paragraphs of book number three, before number two has even reached its major crisis. I guess I’m doomed to write as I read; four books at a time! (number four is the one my daughter would love to see published, a children’s story I wrote for her and her sister when they were about 5).

I write, therefore, I am.

This, then, is the fate towards which I’ve been heading ever since my mother put that first book in my hands; ever since I read “Charlotte’s Web” aloud to her when I was four. My office walls groan under the research material which has brought me to this day. Everything from Heinlein and Vonnegut to Roberts and Lackey. Not to mention, the inimitable Dr. Seuss. My literary tastes are eclectic, to say the least and so, it seems, is my writing. The trick will be to harness my imagination and force it to complete at least one of my many projects. But which will it be? One I’ve already started, one yet to begin or my website? Stay tuned as the answer could very well be a twisted one.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the serendipity that led me to The Inklings.
2. I am grateful to Seth and Gina for taking time out of their busy lives to bring us all together.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned over the last year or so.
4. I am grateful for new inspiration for an old idea.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, imagination, support, flexibility, consistency, health, harmony and prosperity.

Blessed Be.

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