We're back in the airport today, gearing up for our return flight to our sweet RV (fingers crossed nothing has frozen) and our sometimes-mobile, sometimes-stationary life. It's been an excellent week, full of love and thanks, but I can't wait to get back to business as usual.
I want to tell you about something I'm going through—a thing that has me knee-deep in my own process and frustration and ego: I'm a not-yet-published writer. I'm a whole bunch of other things, too, but the not-yet-published-writer identity is one that's haunted me since I finished my MFA in creative writing in 2009 and began feeling that I 'should' be published. The drive to see my work in print came from a deep desire for validation...and an equally deep fear that I wasn't a writer if I wasn't a published writer. I gave myself one year: For one year after graduate school, I submitted my short stories to various journals and magazines and kept a tidy record of what went where and who sent encouraging rejection letters (believe it or not, there is such a thing). I tacked those rejection letters all around the frame of a giant window in my tiny apartment. And then, as they multiplied, to the back of my bedroom door. For one year, I went out on the limb where writers must live full-time. And then, without meaning to (but, certainly because it was easy to), I gave up.
I wish I could say my motive has changed. Alas, it hasn't. I wish I could say I don't still feel the pangs of wondering if I'm good enough, all the while believing that publication will give me the confidence I seek. But, I still do. These are things I'm working on, actively. These are some of my tenderest spots. This is where I don't have it figured out, not even a little bit.
Back in September, after five years of keeping my work to myself, not trying, not risking, not even writing very much—save for the past 14 weeks, here, to you—I wrote a flash essay for an online magazine ('flash' mandates its length not exceed 500 words; something about that extreme brevity felt safe to me). The call for submissions was on the topic of 'home'. Oh, I've so got this, I thought.
I was right and I was wrong: I wrote an essay that so perfectly captures the spirit of our right-now home, along with our larger quest for our Together Home (now that we've found Home in each other), and I really treasure what I created, probably because it's about this era of our lives, and about love and hope, and because I tried—but, it hasn't been accepted for publication at this time. Read it here, if you like. (I think it's really good.)
Notes from the week of November 22
STAYED AT PAPER VALLEY HOTEL
MEALS EATEN, DRINKS DRUNK
+ Saltines (while recovering from food poisoning)
+ portobello mushroom stroganoff (I'm not one for turkey; this was a superb alternative)
+ cranberry gelatin salad
+ mashed potatoes
+ green bean casserole
+ Lois's famous taco dip
+ veggie pizza
LOCAL COLOR EXPERIENCED
+ downtown Waukesha
+ November snow
+ Woodman's Food Market (absurdly large and contains an infinite variety)
+ Mills Fleet Farm
+ watching a Packers game (on TV) while in Wisconsin
+ Chili John's Chili
+ quick archery lesson and practice (I'm a decent shot!)
+ I fly first-class for the FIRST TIME tonight (thanks to an unexpected and fortuitous upgrade); I plan to have a glass of bubbly in hand ASAP!
+ Mike, Becky, Annabelle, Madeleine, Alice, Harry, Lois, & Heather