Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"You Don't Need an Invitation to Your Own Life!"

I stole a moment to wallow in self-pity. It was only a moment, but that moment ended up being a fork in the road and I finally decided that I needed to take a path less traveled. Frost quotes aside, I’ve decided that I am a writer. I’ll try to avoid the standard “burns within me like a flame” cliches and write what I know. Writing is what I’m supposed to do. I’m pretty decent at it and not in a “My mom tells me I’m a good writer” sort of way. I’m good at it in a jerk tears from a reader’s eyes onto an open page way.

I love writing and I’ve been avoiding it. I haven’t been avoiding it because my muse took a vacation or because I ran into a roadblock. I’ve been avoiding it because I have an excuse. I have two manuscripts. That is my excuse. What I’ve found with writing is that it’s easy to put it aside when you finish a story. Once my manuscripts were finished, I stalled. Editing sucks, correcting continuity sucks and fixing the junk that lingers about the edges of the story sucks. I know how the stories end. I know what happens in the beginning and middle. I know what the climax is. I know my characters (more than I want to by this point) and I don’t want to sit down with them and make sure that the grammar that surrounds them is correct and commas are in place.

Fortunately, I received a kick in the ass today. It caused me to have that small moment of self-pity I mentioned earlier, but it also caused me to pull out one of my manuscripts and edit 7 chapters this evening. If you’re still reading, you may or may not be asking yourself just what this kick in the ass was. I’ll assume that you want to know and tell you. My lovely wife sent me an e-mail today. It was short, sweet and to the point. One of her friends at work had just received word that an agent was going to represent her and try to sell her first manuscript.

This was the fork in the road or better, the kick in the keister. I stared at the e-mail for a few minutes before I replied. I was gracious, of course, happy for her friend and pleased for her. But deep down I was jealous as hell. I had no right to be, of course. I’ve been sitting on two manuscripts for well over 2-years now. Sure, I’ve had the excuse of going to my writing class and reading to group, making sure the story is just right. But when it comes right down to it, I’ve been lazy. The manuscripts have sat, pretty much finished and having someone else see a measure of success for their first manuscript (and believe me, garnering an agent is a success) made me jealous. Jealousy, of course, took its natural course to self-pity. Why not me? Why can’t I get things going? Why aren’t agents just jumping out of the woodwork to represent me? Seriously, these thoughts went through my head.

Now that I read this, just a few hours after perpetuating this emasculated whining, I have to laugh. I want to go back, wring my own neck and say, “Shut the front door!” Seriously.

Later on, while my wife and I were watching the “Parenthood” season finale, I got another kick in the pants. As a writer, I constantly tear other writer’s work apart. I try to find what’s good, what works, what’s bad and what doesn’t work. The writing on “Parenthood” is pretty good. It’s a good mix of drama and comedy and some of the lines are really extraordinary. Tonight was one of those nights. One line was when Sarah was talking to her mom. Her mom was whining about why her husband never talked to her, why he never asked her to come to certain events, etc. Sarah, exasperated, turns to her and blurts, “Just do something, mom! You don’t need an invitation to your own life.”

I fell in love with that line immediately. After today’s e-mail, it was a moment of afflatus in my life. I don’t need a friggin’ invitation to my own life. In fact, I need to quit running away from it. I need to recognize that this is part of my journey and that I better get on it because the minutes are a wastin’.

So, here I go. Here’s my blog and here’s my first post… as a writer. Let’s get on with it. By the way, if any agents do want to jump out of the woodwork and sign me, I have two manuscripts. One is a nifty little coming of age story for ‘Tweens or YAs. The other is a historical fiction piece set along the Oregon Trail. I know historical fiction isn’t a big thing right now, but it would probably make a good graphic novel.

That’s all for now.

1 comment:

  1. glad you got that kick in the ass. I would like to thank your lovely wife for providing the kick. I can't wait for your first book signing.