Monday, 5 December 2011
The value in the attempt (even if)
One of my college professors told me over and over again to submit my poetry, my creative writing, my work to literary magazines. He talked about it in class, in meetings, and even a couple years after I graduated. I was writing to ask him something, and at the end of his response, he asked, “Where have you submitted your work lately?”
The answer then, and the answer every time: Nowhere.
Do you do this, too?
“I really should.”
“I will. Soon.”
“I don’t know if my work is what they’re looking for, though.”
“I don’t have time to keep track of all the submission guidelines.”
“My work never really feels finished — I don’t want to submit until I’m confident.”
And you know what happens next.
I haven’t chosen a OneWord resolution for this year, but something is pulling at me all the same. Maybe my mid-thirties are giving me more boldness. Maybe I’m ready to get out there. Maybe I’m just sick of hearing my own excuses.
This year, I’m trying. Doing. Shipping. Risking.
My first attempt? I submitted workshop ideas for a conference. Last week, I found out that none were selected. My first rejection. Guess how that felt?
Nope. It was fine.
Sure, I was a little disappointed and kept it to myself for a couple days, but then? I was proud. Because I hadn’t submitted anything the previous year, or the year before, and realized that (the not trying) felt worse than having tried and failed. At least this time, I put it out there. And now I have more ideas for next year. I even feel emboldened by this rejection, because now I know it’s not that bad. So why not risk some more?
Yesterday, I drove to St. Paul for an audition. I’ve known about Listen To Your Mother shows for five years. I was thrilled when some amazing women finally brought it to Minnesota three years ago.
“I really should audition.”
But this year, when a friend reminded me auditions were coming up, I looked at the “should” for a second, then clicked over to the website and signed up for an audition slot. Last week, I worked and reworked a poem, then yesterday, I drove 75 miles for a 10-minute audition.
I don’t know whether I’ve made it into the show, but even if I didn’t? It was worth it.
The doing, the trying, the risking is worth it.
It feels risky to announce this to you, to say I’m trying and doing. Because I know what you’re all thinking. (At least this is the elephant in my room.)
It’s been so long since I started writing it that the tone has changed. So has the title (more on that soon). The first draft is done. It needs some work, sure. But I’m staring her down this year, my year of doing, my year of risking. For conferences and shows, I’m asking to be picked. For my book, I’m picking myself.
I know my words have value in the adoption conversation. I know there are adoptive families in the trenches who need my book. So what am I waiting for?
You heard it here. Now hold me to it.
What are you waiting for? What have you been saying you “should” do but haven’t attempted? Let’s jump together this year. Let’s try. Let’s risk. Because being brave and failing feels so much better than making excuses for not trying.
***Hey, I think I’m going to consolidate my Facebook identity, because I don’t want to double-post on my personal and writer profiles, but then I just never post on my writer profile. Whatever. I’m just tired of splitting my identity.