Monday, November 28, 2005

REFLECTIONS

"I Wonder Why..."


...Young People Die...by CMS 2005


...People Litter...by CMS 2005


Today, my eldest submitted her entries for the school's annual Reflections contest. She won the competition two years running, once at the state level--then, last year took what she called in her own words, "an artistic risk", by writing a short story about a skeleton who avenges evil after midnight for the "different kind of hero" theme. She submitted it without a trace of reluctance, shrugging when it didn't win, "Oh well, it was a very unusual story...they didn't really get it, I guess." This attitude is one any writer needs to cultivate if they plan to last very long in this industry where rejection is, perhaps, the only sure thing.

I'm letting that heartfelt wisdom guide me today as I realize with a final certainty that my book will not be done in time to meet the publishers' Fall 2006 line-up. This is a tough pill to swallow...but, I'm allowing myself to be mentored through by the process of the writers I know in life and those I know only on paper. When I reflect on the fact that I have only been writing this book intermittently for fifteen months--with the months of July and August "off" this past year due to my boy-o's illness and treatment--I feel a bit comforted. Most writers take at least two years or MORE for their first book...(this is what they do during their MFA program years). I will finish this book before that.

The publishers? Well...one has responded positively to this news. She "believes in the work"--which makes me love her. The other publisher who has requested the option on the novel hasn't responded yet at all. When I began, I had five interested...then, down to two when I missed my summer deadline (a date which fell, coincidentally, on the day my son had his picc line catheter inserted into his arm and threaded up into his heart). My only ache on that day was for him...not my manuscript. So, life has its way with me--time has its way. That I have one editor still solidly standing "on faith" renews my confidence and my determination to finish it as steadily as I can.

M. stands "on faith" for me every single day...he is more sure of me than I am of myself. My family holds the line--all interested in my process and willing to boost me when I need it. My friends (near and far) remain curious and respectful of my work. These are my touchstones. Whether the book is published in 2006 or early 2007 is really not the measure of my success. The fact that I've written it is...Tomorrow, I will go to speak to the children in my daughter's school about writing as a career. I plan to tell them about studying literature in college--an apprenticeship with the "masters". I will explain the industry and why 99% of writers also hold other posts: (teachers, editors, lawyers, doctors, waiters, welders, zookeepers...you name it). Also, why this isn't a bad thing. My daughter believes in me enough to want me there...

For the Reflections, she decided only last minute to enter a writing selection...a poem about "Mother Nature" and ecology. Her main interest this year was a new one for her, photography. The above shots were all taken by my nine year old--the first pictures she's ever done. The concepts behind them are all hers(except for the school-generated theme)...I couldn't even make suggestions, she was so hell-bent on doing it her own way. (Another artist requirement, now that I think of it). She submitted three others--but, these give a sense of her vision for the project. "I Wonder...IF..." If her work will be misunderstood. But then, I imagine the determined set of her jaw as I followed her around town yesterday, lamely holding the camera case for her. Her eyes went a dozen shades deeper blue as she framed shot after shot of tombstones, graffiti, litter, cigarette butts, and construction sites. "This captures what I'm thinking," she happily commented as she reviewed the photos. "That's how it is with me and my writing..." I replied. Which is what got me on this road in the first place...and what keeps drawing me in, line by line, page after page...even now.
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4 Comments:

Blogger davem said...

Although I've been reading I've had trouble getting the seconds together to leave a comment. I'm glad to hear that panic has not set in too deeply regarding deadlines and such; your patient editor will be the benefactor. As for CMS; I wouldn't be too surprised if she's not too far from being published herself. Keep it up; I love reading your updates.

12:23 PM  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

Now that's a wonderfully artistic attitude if I've ever heard it...my "patient editor will be the benefactor"! Thanks for this one. --CDS--

2:21 PM  
Blogger cphelan said...

CMS is amazing. She is so young with so much talent. I can not wait to see her finished project. As for you, keep up the great work! Don't let deadlines stress you. An awesome book is worth the wait!

12:26 PM  
Blogger Left-handed Trees... said...

Thanks c!!!

10:29 PM  

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