Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lay it down

Lately I've been thinking about this "writing life" I lead. Just about everything I do for pleasure, work, or torture (grin) has to do with writing. But this is not a brag session or a plea for validation. I've been allowing myself to say aloud that writing is hard work. It requires a mental effort, an emotional vulnerability, an overinflated sense of confidence and the ability to fake what I don't have. I don't think much about it during the daily toil--some days I'm frustrated, some days I'm more tired than others, but it's just the life I lead. This is the life I always wanted, in essence. To set my own schedule, write whenever and whatever I choose, stay in my pajamas until noon and pretty much be the lord of my own domain.

But once in awhile I stop and look back five or ten years behind me and I am amazed that I got here from there. I once suffered from the illusion that one simply arrived at each new shiny oasis of success. The reality is, I can count every little pebble I laid in place to build the bridge across each stretch of water to get here. There are so many pebbles that I wonder if I had even failed to put one in place, would I be here? No I would not.

What if I had not taken a second glance at a curled little flier dangling off a battered corkboard my junior year in college, and had never signed up for that writing class of Susan Bono's--though I only came to two of the six classes. I'd have had few literary contacts; no inspired mentorship that has driven much of my revision; no leads to things like the Argus-Courier, which led to all my other freelance work, and also a time-tested friendship I value so much. I would have had no database of emails that allowed me to get LiveWire started.

What about that terrible job at the vitamin store that seemed utterly pointless with my paranoid, drug-addled boss always on my case? Nope. I needed that break from my intensive job at the health club to rejoin writing classes, and it's where I met one of my dearest friends, Whitney--who buoyed me up when another friendship of mine was painfully falling apart. It allowed me to write the novel that landed me an agent--a very learning experience.

What if I had not started making beaded hangings for my windows that turned into jewelry that I eventually sold at the farmer's market where I met Karen Ford, co-owner of Zebulon's Lounge?

What if I had never foolishly decided to organize readers around a theme at Zebulon's Lounge--which paid me nothing but the reward of getting to shmooze with my fellow writers?

Well this entire house of cards would crumble if you took that out. I'd never have started Word by Word, never have met my writing partner Rebecca (who personally got me the last job I will ever have that allowed me to work for myself, and who turned me on to the Law of Attraction). I wouldn't have made friends with the scads of writers who have buoyed me up and kept me strong.

Without Word by Word I wouldn't have been asked to present classes and workshops and build credentials and decide to pursue an MFA...and so on.

Pebble by pebble by pebble I have built a writing life.

And I feel myself standing at the lip of a much larger bridge now. The pebbles are bigger, the water is deeper, and though I'm scared, now at least I understand that there will be no shiny chariot that swoops down and carries me across to the glamorous island of fame and success. If it comes, it will come in this same, steady, plodding way, because it's my path, literally, and if I don't throw it down, it will not form.

I think we forget that we lay down our lives this way. We are too busy living to notice how far we've come (or gone). Nobody put us where we are, or forced us into this life, or keeps us where we are. We do. Our beliefs and comforts and fears and dedication keep us.

I am deeply gratified to have had the immense opportunities and tremendous support to get even this far.

(God did that sound like an Oscars acceptance speech or what?)



At 2:05 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

*(God did that sound like an Oscars acceptance speech or what?)*

Newp. It's dead-on perfect.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Patrushka said...

You are privileged to be able to take that distance and see your life in perspective, like this. That's an ability not everybody has. I'm sure you did it from time to time "while in your way" and I guess it helped you when choosing the right path to get to the end you wished.
On the other hand, I doubt that the falling or misplacing of only one pebble could have taken you out of the way. You'd have probably needed many more than one. I'm super happy to read you're happy about your life. :)
If I were you, [I'll never understand why not "was"] I'd print this writing of yours and would hang it in a place where you can look at it when you feel frustrated.

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...


Patricia--I am sure that if you could have removed one of those "pebbles" another would have arrived...reflection is important.


At 7:52 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

I love the concept of laying down pebbles to construct your path. This is so beautiful I had to read it twice--and will undoubtedly return to read it again.

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Patry, I take your words very highly, considering that almost all of your posts read like keepers :)



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