Monday, March 25, 2013

With a Little Help from My Friends

         I'm writing again!

         Big deal, you are thinking.  Isn't that what writers do? Well, yes, but if you've been following this blog for awhile, you  know that for the last year and a half, posting here is the only writing I have done.

      There are writers who can write from the death bed of a loved one. There are writers who wrote from their own deathbeds. I am not that strong. I am a wuss who gets creatively torpedoed by a lot of turmoil.

    So has my life smoothed out?  Has all the bad stuff gone away?

    I wish. Or, since you can't hear sarcasm in

    So what happened? 

      For some reason, my mind meandered back to when I was pondering potential motherhood. Would this be a good idea for me right now? (Eighteen years and one wild and crazy kid later, I still don't have the answer to that one.) I eventually realized that there was never going to be the perfect time. All I had was now. 

     The same goes for writing. All I have is now, even if it is a messy and stressful and depressing now. If my work comes out messy and depressing...well, that's what revision is for. Just getting it out of my head and into the physical world is the Big First Step.

    About the time I decided I had to write again, I learned that my local SCBWI spring conference featured a writer I really, really wanted to hear. In addition to not writing, I had also not been attending writing conferences.  I had signed up for a conference last fall, paid my fees, reserved my room.  Told friends I'd be there. Then on the day I was to leave, yet another one of those emotional emergencies smacked me down, leaving me without the energy to back out of my driveway, let alone drive four hundred miles in three days. But this conference, no matter what happened, was fifteen miles from my house. I could do this.

    I did it. I made it to the conference. I not only heard The Amazing Speaker I Had to Hear, but I reconnected with my critique group buddies.  They reminded me I always had a place at their table, no pressure, no judgment, no where have you been?  They were meeting in two weeks. Could I make it?

    I could...and did. I remembered why for ten years,  I had made that monthly 100 mile round trip to critique group.  Writing is a solitary pursuit. There is no break room or lunch hour to commiserate with your co-workers. (Well, there is Facebook, but it's not the same thing.) We have to find out ways to stay connected to each other. Blogging is one way. Conferences are another. Critique group however, is where you connect on the most intimate level. This is where your fellow writers are not afraid to tell you the ruth. As I said in a previous post on critique groups, you are not there to tear each other apart, or pat each other on the back. You are there for constructive criticism...and constructive praise. You learn that you aren't the only one with a funky life. You learn that you just grab on to and hang on. To keep writing messy stuff, that you will revise and revise until it is better.

     And some day, life will get better, too.

    Don't forget to enter our latest book giveaway.  You could win an autographed copy of Michelle Markel's and Melissa Sweet's Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers Strike of 1909 (Balzer and Bray).  I have my own copy on the desk next to me right now. Terrific book.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman



Carmela Martino said...

Hooray, Mary Ann! I'm THRILLED to know you're writing again. And triple Hooray! for your critique group.

mary ann rodman said...

A big shout out to my critique group, WINGS (and I've been gone so long, I have forgotten what the acronym stands for!) But they are an awesome five some...and I make it six.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Mary Ann Rodman is writing once again!
And may I suggest re all the Stuff Life threw your way?
Toss it into your compost pile and use it in your writing. :)
Your Fan Esther

Linda at teacherdance said...

I don't know all that you've gone through, but you sound so happy I had to say "hooray" for you, Mary Ann. I just started a writing group with some colleagues from my school. We are so excited to support one another. I think I'll read that bit to them about the importance of the group. Thank you! And best wishes!

Allison said...

The realization a few years ago that life would always bring interruptions is what made me decide that the time to write is NOW. And so I wrote some short stories and articles, even getting a few published. What helped though with my dream to write a novel is National Novel Writing Month. Through it, I proved that I could write come bad and good days. You're so correct that there will never be a perfect time and so one just has to WRITE.

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Hooray, Mary Ann!