I have a dream.
No, it’s not as noble as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. But it’s mine and if I’m not here (either on social media or in the flesh), it’s because I have to run away and join the circus for a bit in order to accomplish it. Time in craft, you understand. Since May 10th I’ve been whittling away at this dream of mine. I abandoned it for a season because you can’t join the circus when you’re a young mother homeschooling four kids. Responsibility says I shouldn’t really join the circus now, but there will never be a time when it’s the right time to do a great thing.
Like all writers, I was first and am still, an ardent reader. Books open worlds. I remember reading Flowers in the Attic and crying and wishing I could fit myself into the pages of that dark and romantic world. I didn’t want the story to end, and in the hazy transition between the book’s end and reality’s beginning, I wrote my first voluntary essay: a passionate but poorly written commitment to creating worlds like the one on which I’d just closed the cover. Flowers in the Attic was blasted by Stephen King as having the literary weight of flatulence in his excellent nonfiction book, On Writing. Actually, that gives me hope. If FIA seemed spectacular to my untrained egg-of-a-mind, then perhaps my blast-worthy book will rock some other egghead out there. I steal hope crumbs wherever they’re left. I think a would-be writer must.
Since then I’ve wavered in my dedication. Writing fiction feels extravagant, especially when there are diapers to change, dinners to make, laundry to fold, money my time could be making… What’s the difference between a writer and a large pizza? A large pizza can feed a family of four. When I tell people I want to be a writer they look at me like I’ve sprouted a pair of antlers, and then I start to squirm. I know it’s not likely, yes I know it’s the quintessential pipe dream and yet– I must try. And why must I try? Because at some point I crested a hill and now writing is as much of a thrill ride as reading. I try because I have a suspicion God put a love for writing in me.
Which is why I’m posting. I don’t want to forget how it feels to have 12K words written of my novel (a veritable drop), that every day I come to the page with a pang of anxiety in my gut that there won’t be anything there, but every day I begin writing and something comes. Whether or not it’s any good remains to be seen. Common sense and the odds say my first novel will be worse than flatulence. I admit that makes me sad, sad because like everyone I don’t want to stink and sad because it’s sort of but not really a waste of time. I know… I know… it’s a writer’s right of passage, that first poorly-written novel. But petulant and prideful Kelly wants a fast pass like at Cedar Point. I want my first effort to be greatness.
Yesterday my writer friend and I were chirping on and on about writing like crazed birds, and it was almost as delightful as writing itself. She and I decided to take more risks with our writing (cue cringing husbands and families who don’t want the risks to involve them in any way …mwah ha ha). The risks to which we refer are the rejections that are also part and parcel of being a writer. Gathering one’s pile of rejections is an even more painful prerequisite to publishing than writing that first literary gas. Getting rejected isn’t like not placing in a race or losing a game. Writing is the insides of my mind, set on a pedestal like the bearded lady at the county fair. When it’s rejected I have to climb out of the ego canyon I just got shoved into, and it takes time and grit. My pile of rejections is nothing to brag about. But I keep collecting. I keep telling myself that the only difference between a good writer and a bad writer is the bad ones quit. I suppose you could apply that to any dream.
So my writer friend and I committed to getting rejected, and I thought I’d get the ball rolling by sharing my dream with you. It’s better this way because I don’t know if you see the antlers or not. And if I don’t follow though I know I’ll have to field at least a question or two from the handful of folks (I adore you BTW) who read this blog asking whether or not I finished what I started…