Doing the Write Thing in 2017
|January 12, 2017||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
The first story I wrote in 2016 was a tale of rejection. It walked its reader (singular) through humiliating breakups and infidelity, heartbreaking phone calls from potential employers that preferred other candidates, and a letter from my preferred university that politely declined the opportunity to educate me. That letter quickly became the victim of spit, scissors, and an unforgiving fire.
More specifically, this was an essay about my inability to handle rejection with maturity and grace. It starred many acts of destruction, unhealthy coping mechanisms, and embarrassing displays of dejection.
My motivation for resurrecting these painful memories was not to torture myself, but to address last January’s topic for The Write Stuff, my writing club of two. That topic was “resolutions”.
Because I’m an overachiever, the piece actually touched on three of my resolutions for 2016 (or “goals” as I much prefer to say):
- To write about things other than beer and running.
- To practice what I call “brave storytelling”. (While this particular essay might not’ve been the most courageous story, it certainly outlined some stuff I’m not especially proud of. So it counts.)
- And finally, to change my relationship with rejection. To reject the fear of it, embrace the possibility of it, and to cope with it in much healthier ways should the need arise.
I set a few goals for 2016 that remain next to unchecked boxes. Running a mountainous 100 miler under 24 hours is one shining example, considering I ran a pretty flat 100 and when the clock ticked 24:00, I was still dodging cacti in the middle of the desert. (PS-can that count as my race report?)
But I actually did okay with tackling the aforementioned trio of goals.
For starters, I wrote about way more than beer and running. I even quit my job at a brewery to pursue a career opportunity that promised subject matter beyond barley, hops, malt and yeast. I penned articles on the linguistics of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing, and the listening habits of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and archaeology in ancient Mongolia, and armed takeovers of federal land, to name a few. Variety is the spice of my job and I love it.
I also attended a writing retreat that helped me gain comfort and confidence with more vulnerable writing and allowed me to scribble across a notebook of blank pages for an entire weekend.
And I started a writing group, replenished my supply of fresh journals, and read my way through a number of books on writing and creativity. And on the matter of rejection, I embraced the hell out of the possibility of rejection. But those are stories for another day.
In some very important ways, 2016 was a pivotal year on the writing front, as I recognized just how important the craft is to me and set some very real goals to help myself grow as a writer. But the volume of writing did not reflect how much I realized I value the act. I did not carve out nearly enough time to get down with my creative self and to play around with words outside of the confines of my office. And I didn’t share very much writing. Or produce many personal pieces, period. As I reflected on 2016, one of the major things that stood out as a bit of a disappointment was the amount of writing over its 365 days (or was it 366?).
So this year, I’d like to do a little more and do a little better. So I set some goals, of course:
- To expand what I write about AND share it with an audience that includes more beings than my journal or the one person in my writing group (or Brutus, that nosy little Schnauzer loves to read over my shoulder).
- To practice brave storytelling AND publish it. To be bold, get uncomfortable, and put my words to good use.
- To post weekly entries on this blog (starting now) and to figure out how to change its name without breaking it since I a) hate it and b) will be spinning sentences about way more than sweat.
- To read every damn day (even if it’s just a few pages) to keep appreciating and absorbing the masterful way other writers weave words into stories. And journal with the same frequency (even if for just a few minutes) to keep practicing and honing the craft in an environment blissfully free of expectations and judgement.
- To submit pieces and/or pitches (plural!) for publication and in the spirit of embracing rejection, to celebrate the inevitable rejection letters as signs that I’m successfully pursuing a goal and passion.