a life

“One poem or one story doesn’t matter one way or the other. It’s the process of writing and life that matters.” –Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

sustained effort: day two

I’m graduated. Finished. Without a net to catch me, a rope to guide me, a paid-and-therefore-obliged mentor on the other end of an email to care about my drafts. And in order not to go completely adrift, I’ve given myself a schedule, which boils down to one solid hour of writing time a day. So far, I’ve stuck to it. It’s day two. I’m going ahead and patting myself on the back. Like everything with me writing related, the daily endeavor is dreadful at the outset,  thrilling in conclusion. To say: I wrote today (and to mean pages)! That is a thing of beauty.

lee byrd

I recently moved to El Paso. There is a Writer’s League here–a community that hosts events and lectures once a month. I went the first chance I could and heard author and co-founder of Cinco Puntos Press, Lee Byrd, read an essay on waiting. She wrote about a time in her life when she was home with young children, wondering whether she’d ever become what she yearned to become: a writer. About her years of outwardly unrewarded persistence. I love when writers tell of their beginnings. It gives me much-needed faith.

Here she is, reading this very essay:

a word

dovetail,   v.   1. mortise, tenon, join, fit, fit together, intersect, unite, splice, link. 2. tally, conform, correspond, fit or go together, match; agree, accord, jibe, fall in with, concur, go hand in glove, see eye to eye; equal, balance, square, parallel; harmonize, coincide.

publishing

“There is a door we all want to walk through, and writing can help you find it and open it. Writing can give you what having a baby can give you: it can get you to start paying attention, can help you soften, can wake you up. But publishing won’t do any of those things; you’ll never get in that way.” –Anne Lamott, from Bird by Bird

the graduate

Tomorrow begins a long trek: driving my girls 6 hours to my sister-in-law’s place, catching a red eye to Newark, connecting to Boston. Then it’s a train ride to Cambridge, where I’ll graduate from a low-residency MFA program at Lesley University. So I guess, really, tomorrow begins the end of a long trek. Two years of deadlines and 9-day residency reprieves. Of wonderful community and the beauties of clustered used book stores and neighborhood Victorian architecture.

I’ll miss it.

In one of the first seminars I attended, the instructor, Anita Riggio, warned us not to think for one moment that this program wouldn’t absolutely change us. Because it would.

Nah, I thought. I’m good.

I’d hoped to pick up some writing tips. Make a few friends who liked to read. Nothing so pesky as changing my life. But it did. These two years at Lesley have absolutely changed me. Broadened, prodded, pressed, and refined me.

The conclusion of school is partly why I’ve begun this blog. To keep the change rolling. The conversation going–even if it’s just with myself.

novelists

“If I actually believed that the progress of human understanding depended on our crop of contemporary novelists, I would shoot myself.” –Annie Dillard, from Living by Fiction