steady & vulnerable

My writing goals for this year are to be more steady (my computer wants me to write “steadier” but that’s not what I mean!) and more vulnerable. I realize that those goals may seem to be at odds. But what I mean by steady is that I’d like to not be so high and so low over my efforts but I’d like to just continue to plug along regardless of my emotions surrounding my writing.

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As for vulnerable I’d like to share more truth in my essays. Sometimes I settle for the cheap ending. I must be willing to go all in. I’ve been working on my latest manuscript for 21 months. And I still hesitate in some subtle ways to really go after some of the answers to my research questions. So being vulnerable right now means that I will wholeheartedly research my ms. knowing very well that it may not get published. Or that I’ll have to scrap what I have and try a new form: instead of writing a picture book I may have to try writing for a middle grade audience or something along that line. I’m not sure. There is something that’s trying to get through to me regarding this story and it’s just not penetrating my mind yet. I fear it’s going to ask me for something that’s going to hurt.

enough

Realizing that my current manuscript will never be perfect (because perfect is not possible) but that one day it will be good enough.

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from rainer maria rilke

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“You ask whether your poems are good. You send them to publishers; you compare them with other poems; you are disturbed when certain publishers reject your attempts. Well now, since you have given me permission to advise you, I suggest that you give all that up. You are looking outward and, above all else, that you must not do now. No one can advise and help you, no one.

There is only one way: Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of the night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring assent, if you can confidently meet this serious questions with a simple, “I must,” then build your life upon it…progress quietly and seriously in your evolvement. You could greatly interfere with that process if you look outward and expect to obtain answers from the outside – answers which only your innermost feeling in your quietest hour can perhaps give you.”

drury lane books

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It had been 11 years since I last visited this tiny, beloved bookshop and when I rolled into town I was afraid that it would be gone – converted into something like a hip wood-fired pizza place – its demise a result of the Great Recession. (And I refused to look it up online because I was so horrified at the thought that I decided that the best course of action would be to act like an ostrich.) But, thank goodness, Drury Lane Books is still standing.

I glanced over the books displayed on the shelves and my leading thought, as my eyes moved around the room was, “Oh, I’ve always meant to read that and that and that and that…

I quickly made a teetering pile of books to purchase, struck up a conversation with the bookseller about what an excellent selection they have and how much, much bigger bookstores don’t come close to having such an amazing selection.

She said that she hears that a lot and she thinks it’s just because the booksellers and the people who live in the area enjoy the same books.

I replaced our copy of Antler, Bear, Canoe by Betsy Bowen which had fallen apart due to countless readings. I found the sequel to the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of 7-9 books that I’ve been searching for. A cookbook that has been on my wishlist for a few years finally made it home with me. Another book, Paddle to the Sea by Holling Clancy Holling that I’d only heard about, I got to hold in my hands, examine and then buy. Finally, they had a row of Willa Cather books done by Vintage Classic and I just couldn’t resist her Complete Stories.

And I left with so many Christmas gifts purchased and gratitude for places like this.

Long live Drury Lane!