Monday, January 3, 2011

Another Year: Moving On

Another month gone, and with it, another year. So do we pause to look back or to look forward, or just pause? (With a month between posts, pausing doesn't seem to be one of my major challenges.)

I look at the past year the way I always hope to look back at an airplane flight, that is, uneventful in a good way. We made it through what has not been the best of times for anyone relatively unscathed. We had no highlights, no trips, no vacations, but we also had no traumas, no tragedies, and all the storms that hit all around us even had the good grace to pretty much pass us by. My garden flourished and it was sweet to watch it grow (never mind the forest of weeds.)

I seem to have been on hiatus from the pursuit of the professional writing life, although not entirely. As reported, I sent out a few queries, gathered an equal number of rejections, and returned to hone the manuscript again. I said all that before. Yet, it is amazing me how going through again is showing me so many places where I read what I thought was polished and shake my head. Perhaps my destiny in this life is not to be a published author, but a constant craft-worker and mentor, reader for other writers. I find as much satisfaction helping other writers as I do in my own work. Or could it be that it's just easier? I do know I will go through the manuscript to the end, again, and then I'll send out more queries, and more. But I also know that I might never see this picked up, and that's okay, too. I'll work on something else, or not.

In the writers' community of a particular website, a question was raised about throwing in the towel--does anyone ever feel that way. Of course there were many variations on the fairly consistent answer, which is "NO, NEVER." Or "Well, I feel like it, sometimes, of course, but never could." "I'm obsessed." "I can't NOT write." Funny, but throwing in the towel, giving up, sounds to me like there's a fight involved that one might give up on. A fight to what? Get published? (Yes, for many.) To just keep writing? (Yes, for most, in the face of rejection.) Maybe I'm lacking a fighting gene, but I just don't feel that. I write because I like to, just as I read because I like to. It's a beautiful craft. Sometimes it's even art. I would paint, if I could, or compose a choral symphony. But I write, and while I've done it my entire life, and continue to do it, I don't feel I MUST, or I HAVE to. I'm not compelled (though I do take it seriously, approach it as a professional, and would be ready to meet the deadlines and commitments, should the project find a home with someone who believes in it as I do.) I can waste hours happily on TV, the Internet. And then I write. Give up? When swimming, if I stop to float on my back and look up and the clouds or stars, am I giving up on swimming? I'll turn over and do more laps, just to feel the surge, the body mechanics of the breast stroke. Or, wait, have I then given up on floating to watch the sky? No, no giving up. But no fighting, either. No towel to throw in. Just do. (Thank you, Yoda.)

Oh, and Happy New Year.