Photo by Leah Jones
The Ugly Truth
I’m sitting in my room at the Holiday Inn Express in Muncie, IN and all I can think about is this: the big, fat, ugly truth. Which is; I’m mostly all talk and no action. It’s a depressing thought.
I’m here for the Midwest Writers Workshop (held at Ball State University), which by the way is fabulous. I’ve been looking forward to this conference for nearly 4 months. I knew when I came I’d learn a great deal about the craft and business of writing, and I have. But the biggest lessons I’m learning aren’t about craft, they’re about commitment.
Meeting Cool People
On day one I met another attendee, Susan. Susan is a somewhere-near-my-age mother of three from San Antonio. In our light conversation she mentions she’s written for thirty-five years. She has nine novels sitting in her drawer at home and has decided it’s time to move forward. Nine novels? She’s pitching one of them to an agent tomorrow.
On day two, as I sat listening to a round-table discussion on publishing, I met attendee Hillary Jo. Hillary Jo is a vibrant young woman who is headed to Taylor University this fall. Her eyes dance when she talks about writing; she says she was born to write. I know it’s true because those bright eyes reveal her passion. She too is pitching her novel to an agent this weekend.
Hours later I’m standing in the taco bar line and I meet Dalanie. Dalanie, who can’t weigh a hundred pounds, is a shy high school student. She hangs her head down, making it hard for me to strike up a conversation. But I make the effort, because she is young and the mother in me longs to reach out to her. When I speak, she looks up. She is friendly, well spoken, and full of life. She tells me she pitched her novel and the agent wants to see more.
This is exciting news! I’m happy just to be standing next to someone who is getting a shot at her dream. I am in awe, amazed at Dalanie, Susan, Hillary Jo. In my mind, they are already a success. Day in and day out, they are putting words onto paper, taking risks in sharing their work with others and edging toward their future. It is at this point I realize my truth: I am not.
I am writing, but my progress is slow. I tend to dabble, dream, discuss, instead of do. I need to ramp up my commitment. Put more words to the page.
It makes me think of Darren Brown.
I met Darren Brown in kindergarten. Darren and I have never exactly been close friends, but we’ve always been friendly. We had a million classes together way back when and we’ve always gotten along. Now we talk occasionally on Facebook. Our history is built from knowing each other since the age of five. And it was at age five that he did something I’ll never forget.
Darren read a book to our kindergarten class. All by himself. The nerve! That very day I went home and told my mother. I could learn to read, I said. Teach me to read, I said. I want to read a book to the class, I said. We spent the night reading together. And the very next day, I read my book to Mrs. Arend’s kindergarten class. So there.
So I guess forty years later, Susan, Dalanie and Hillary Jo are my new Darren Browns. They have done something, something I want to do, and have showed me just how much I want it. They have moved me to work a little harder, to get in the game, to do instead of dabble.
To You I Say…
So to these people who have pushed my buttons I say this: Thank-you. Thank you for believing enough in yourself to go after what you want. Thank you for reminding me that I have something I want too. And thank you for reminding me that if I want it, I have to work for it.
One reason I started this blog was to keep myself accountable and thus I want to report my progress. For an update on my progress, click HERE.