Happy birthday to me! Yes, Mermaids and friends, the calendar has rolled around another year, and I’m celebrating (cough) another notch on the old belt. I’m allowing myself to feel a tad of the jitters at seeing less years available on the calendar, so this is an important blog entry (much more important since a) it’s a makeup for the one I missed last week, and b) it’s gonna be a whole lot more important when I look back at it in twelve months).
What, you might ask, do I have to show for this not-quite mis-spent year?
Professional – my high school library work:
– A super effective display on First Amendment Rights, following the Charlie Hebdo killings. It was totally spontaneous, my own response to the cruel and undeserved death of the French cartoonists. My passionate response became a collection and display of the international response – in cartoons. I also collected examples of the offensive Charlie Hebdo drawings, and mounted a presentation on First Amendment rights I’d done in a graduate class. My work, hours and hours of it, sparked lots of conversations and new awareness among the students. Several teachers brought classes in to view the display – talk about a teachable moment!
– Pimping the school’s Overdrive e-book library: “Read For Fun Without Fear” is our slogan. Good grief, the kids are already overwhelmed by assigned reading! Why would I want to encourage reading for fun? Am I crazy?
– Yup. I’m crazy. Discussion closed.
– Meeting my half-brother for the very first time. Don’t bother with the details of how we took so long to find each other, we had a very good time!
– Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Anybody want to enjoy an evening picnic on the grounds of a historical Hudson Valley estate, and then step into the festival tent to see fresh-air interpretations of the Bard?
– Stepping up to my daughter’s challenge/gift and having my cartilage pierced – a shallow, years-long dream. Yes, it hurt. Lots.
– I began to rework my approach to writing. No more pantser work here – I’ve been finding my way through the Plot Whisperer and Michael Hague methodology. It’s really hard, but I know where I’m going. Most days. Sort of.
– Steady writing! Logged more days writing this year than ever (at least, I feel it’s more regular for this second shot a my writing career).
– The current WIP is standing at over 48,000 words. Yowza!
Finally, I heard Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s talk in a panel on “How Pope Francis Is Changing The Church.” How, you ask, is a discussion on the effect of one Argentine on a world of believers important in this desperate happy-dance year of mine?
Because the talk centered in part of the characteristics that make this man such a surprising leader of the Church: he is a free man, and so he is fearless.
The Jesuit spiritual training Francis received has taught him a level of detachment from the “stuff” of life. Being free of the attachments to opinions, ideas, pop culture, celebrity worship, all the monkey-brain misery that keeps us spinning our wheels and awake at night, he can be fearless. What does he have to lose?
Part of this is the power of Doubt. Allowing doubt into our mind isn’t the wrong-headed disaster we tend to believe. Grappling with doubt – allowing our minds to grapple with the idea of not following the carved-in-stone beliefs and rules – gives a person the gift of stronger belief.
I want to have that free and fearless approach to my writing. Maybe I won’t convince anyone I will finish the book. I can only try – what do I have to lose? Maybe I can’t move you to laughter, to applause, to tears. I can only try.
Maybe Act Three will be a hell of a mess. It’s not even started, and I’ve spent nearly two weeks frozen in indecision. Perhaps, allowing myself to move forward in doubt, and then in faith, will unlock this clenched creative soul.
Heck, I won’t finish it by March 31st, my self-imposed deadline, at this rate. Embracing Doubt as my friend, though, could allow me to move forward.
I can only try. Isn’t that a marvelous birthday gift?