Tonight, I finished my last two paper finals for this semester. All I have to do is compile and polish off a thirty-five page short story portfolio for my fiction class and I have officially finished the first half of my senior year of college. What a ride! I wrote a poem about it, which I hope will be fit for public viewing eventually, but I figured I might as well post about it as well.
I’m getting ready to go to sleep and I decided it might be a good time to just look through some of my more recent posts. For sure, there’s been a pick up in activity since I released my novel in February. Most of that’s been my feeble attempts to keep myself from thinking about how the novel is doing, to be honest. Writing has become this constant cycle of needing to get it all on paper, then being proud of it, then being absolutely terrified about how people are going to like it, and then just not caring, and then being tickled pink when someone likes it (or mortified if someone finds mistakes with it), and then we’re off to repeat the cycle again. Keeping busy has gotten me one step closer to keeping sane, it seems.
Not that I don’t still enjoy it. I do, I really do. I don’t know how I could ever survive without writing, really. It keeps me grounded when I’m at my lowest points by helping me to admit to myself what I’m really going through. It forces me to remember just how good I’ve got it most of the time, by making me stop and write down those little moments of grace and blessing that happen every day.
When something that I write gets published, it keeps me from feeling like I’m alone or hopeless in anything that I do. At least someone, somewhere, believed enough in my skill and in what I had to say that they decided to take the risk and put their own names behind it. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I didn’t go to my shelves of journals and look through them just to see my name in them when I’m having a horrible week. Considering the fact that this is never was ‘part of the plan’, it’s a huge thing for me.
It’s really weird to be sitting here, winding down on my second-to-last semesters of college, talking about writing as a career. To begin with, many doctors and teachers told my mother that, because of my obvious mental disability, I would not be able to survive even middle school. Much less high school. Much less a double major at a private university. While working twenty-hours a week. While writing poetry daily. While writing the third book of a seven-novel installment.
At this time last year, I didn’t even know where I would be living. My roomate’s parents had just told her that she couldn’t live off campus, and I couldn’t afford living on. I was scrambling to figure out what I would be doing for the summer. I had just got a new job at a real-estate and lending company. I’d been published here and there in my high school lit mag and parish newsletters before, but it was that semester where I was finally published in a ‘real’ journal that would be internationally distributed.
It’s funny to note that I had started this post planning on apologizing for all of the things that I haven’t accomplished yet. You see, I sat down to write this post when I read an ‘update’ from a couple of months ago where I was enthusiastically going on and on about my plans for manuscripts that I thought I was going to get to compiling that week (that I still have not touched).
But, now that I think about it, I’m proud of where I am. I’m grateful for the people who have put me here- my editors, Jesse and Chris, who are absolute darlings that I could not imagine moving forward as a poet without; my sisters and brothers who are always enthusiastically asking me about what I’m writing next; the friends who are willing to bounce ideas back and forth with me late into the night because I have a plot bunny stuck in my head; the boyfriend who keeps reminding me to allow myself to be proud sometimes; the mother who tells everyone about me; the God who gave me everything that I have to give. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a post of thanksgiving, but that’s really the only way this can go. I can’t even begin to talk about what I wish I could have done by now without acknowledging the miracle that is being able to complain about it, when at this time last year I would have had no clue that all of this could be coming for me.
That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to keep pushing. I can be a better poet, and I will be. I want to be the best poet that I can be. I want to be the best writer that I can be, period, and that’s going to take a lot of work. I guess I’m trying to say that I’m just so grateful to be able to do that.
And now, my night is about to end on a completely different note than it started. I was prepared to go to bed feeling stressed and worried about what new things I could do tomorrow to be better, to do better. But now… I feel peaceful. It’s always good to remember to count one’s blessings.
Gratitude, people. The gift that just keeps on giving.