Monday, June 23, 2008

So That's Where I Put My Life

I had such a great weekend, which of course means I'm weary this morning. My boss and I agree that there are some days when we come to work just to rest from our lives. I wrote a lengthy post about my Saturday that night, but I deleted it Sunday morning because it sounded like a fan girl on crack and I don't want to make Jane Porter consider a restraining order right out of the gate. (That'll make sense later.)

I went to my first meeting of the New Jersey Romance Writer's Association on Saturday and had a fantastic time. I'd made a decision to join the national Romance Writer's Association and its New Jersey chapter earlier this year as part of the tax return sponsored Dreams Come True contest conducted in my subconscious (I won). I don't make New Year's resolutions because the surest way to see me fail is to have me set a goal - it's that screw you power struggle between my dark and better angels. But I will set challenges from time to time and this winter the challenge was to instigate a concerted effort to finally submit my writing for publication.

The first challenge was to become part of a writing community that could bolster me. I need a critique group where pages would be produced by shear force of not wanting to be the only sap without new pages (competition and looking bad in front of others are two prime motivators for my lazy ass) as well as a forum able to mentor a personality that can fluctuate from "damn, I'm good" to "my God, I really suck" on a minute by minute basis.
And I also need people invested in giving me timely and constructive feedback. My friends and family are great and supportive but they have lives and children and jobs and don't always have the time to read manuscript pages and give critiques. But exposing myself and eventually my writing to people who aren't compelled by love and friendship to automatically offer some kind of praise along with the critique is difficult to me. I have to battle against the instinctive unworthiness that underlies most of my self-aggrandizing. Such exposure is necessary however, especially if I don't want my paper shredder to be my best and only fan ever.

And I've missed publishing so much, missed being around groups of people who just get the whole love affair with books. I spend my days with creative marketers and medical jargon and a character arc just doesn't easily work into a conversation. It's also a relief to be around people with whom I don't feel I have to apologize for reading romance, for enjoying a well-earned HEA (happily ever after) or even just an ambiguous one.
Ergo, membership in RWA, a venue that would not only encourage me to write and submit but provide the means of doing it amongst a community of like-minded people.

Not too surprisingly, I have stumbled already in this endeavor with life interrupting the best laid plans and since it's my life, you can rest assured that these interruptions were cataclysmic and life-threatening. I missed my first intended meeting where the speaker was actually a former colleague of mine who I haven't see in some time. But I finally made a meeting yesterday. Oddly enough, I was nervous going in, odd because I'm not usually cowed by a group of people when arenas and lions aren't involved.

made the most of it, signing up to join a critique group and also signing up to be a part of a small committee 'cause it sounds interesting and it'll be good if only just to get my feet wet and meet some of the board members and continue that all important networking. The women there were, on the whole, terrific people who were immediately inclusive and welcoming and supportive. I like the vibe I got at the meeting, the overall mutually supportive atmosphere and the ready humor. There were red roses for two authors who'd had their first sale, carnations for those who had submitted something in the last month (rewards for trying! my kind of place), and newbies like myself were noticed and introduced to the group at large.

And then the workshop by author Jane Porter was awesome. But that'll be the non-psycho fan girl post later this week.

That would be enough for a weekend. But on Sunday I finally made it back to church. No, the altar did not suddenly burst into flame. My mother's prolonged illness has taken up most of my free time in the last three months and Sundays became time for hospital and/or rehab bedside vigils, or for deep, regenerative sleep cycles, or for cramming out freelance copy for an overdue deadline. It was great to be back, great to see people I love who I haven't seen in upwards of three months, selfishly great to have been missed, great to be encouraged and reinvigorated by the outpouring of support and joy, great to SING and have it not be while hanging over a hospital bed holding my delirious mother and warding off Death at two in the morning
in the ICU. I swear I could feel cells in my body regenerating with each note, with every measure and phrase. The electric boogaloo from being connected again - from just singing. Plus there was the added treat of a men's quartet made up of some of my favorite people, doing an old-time gospel hour song that rocked the house. The boys were back in town all right.

After church was more time with fabulous people at a barbecue/pool party complete with massive thunderstorms. Only my friend Carol could handle upwards of 70 people plus their young children with three kids under 5 of her own and a newborn baby literally at her breast all with only two days warning. She just amazes me. As I could swim probably before I could walk, I took full advantage of the pool and spent some time just floating amidst the water games in my own little world (it can be real pretty there) just detoxing from life.

It was just great to feel a part of things again, to see old friends, to meet new ones, to take nascent steps towards achieving a dream.

Hello my life. Good to see you again.

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