I always believed we have some notion of who, or what we're meant to be from the time we're eight or nine. A few people stay the course and they become that person. Most of us stray from the path, sometimes due to bad choices but most often because of fear and the need for security. Every once in a great while, we find the path again.
That was the first paragraph of my very first blog post and I still believe it and I’m still on the path. My first post was a sort of public declaration (not that I had a public) of my commitment to fiction writing.
A kind stranger commented on that very first post. Amy, from The Writers’ Group said, “For me failure means never trying. See? You've already succeeded. Best of luck...”
She was representative of the many interesting, kind and generous people I have come to know through this blog. I frequently read discussions about whether or if writers should blog and if there is any benefit to doing so. Generally, the question is raised within the context of whether it does a published, or about to be published author any good in terms of sales. I don’t know if it does or not. I doubt that in that case it makes much of a difference most of the time.
It’s made a difference to me as a writer and as a person.
When I started Eudaemonia I’d been pecking away at something I had tentatively called Ice Flowers. There was some good stuff there, but I had no idea how to structure a novel and by the time I’d gotten 32,055 words into it, I was frustrated and stuck. I’d been reading blogs and lots of books on craft and I knew I didn’t know enough to keep working on it.
I looked back on my posts at that time (it was May of 2007) and all of the helpful advice came from those of you who are still reading and who I’ve been able to share this year with. Everything that all of you said was right and I took your advice.
In June I started working on a new story and I called it Strings. I’d signed up for a weeklong writers’ retreat that would start in July and I needed at least the start of a first chapter to take with me.
The retreat was life changing for me. I attended many sessions on craft, I met some amazing Colorado based writers and despite having to fortify myself with a beta blocker and a beer before doing so, I read something I’d written in front of the whole group.
After I got back from the retreat I signed up for an eight week novel writing workshop and I got more help, learned to critique and met more great people. Then I did a second eight week workshop and it helped me to be a good critical reader and a fair editor.
I was 23,399 words into Strings when Tim Hallinan sent me an email about a crazy idea he had to start writing a novel from scratch and post a chapter a week, Charles Dickens style. I told Tim I’d do a post about the Dickens Challenge and share the information, but I had no intention of participating myself. I had a decent word count going with Strings and two heavily critiqued chapters. I was adding word count steadily, but I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going with it.
Then two days before the first small group of Dickens Challenge writers were due to post first chapters, I couldn’t get the premise of a story out of my head. I kept thinking about it and turning the characters over in my mind and finally I started to write a first chapter and I was in.
The Foundling Wheel now sits at 29,496 words and I’m midway through the first draft of chapter 12.
Are you sensing a pattern?
On the surface it looks like I’m completely incapable of finishing anything and that may be true, but for once, I’m going to give myself a break. In the last year I’ve learned a lot. Ice Flowers put me on my path, Strings helped me to hone my craft further and the weekly posting format of the Dickens Challenge has helped me with structure and it’s helped me to write less from my head.
Last weekend, I met with a new critique group. A writer from one of the two eight week work shops I attended invited me to join a new group and at this point, it feels like just what I need.
This is my 165th post and in looking back at where I started and where I am now, I know that Blogging has had a huge impact on me. I’ve met so many great people online, spoken with some on the phone, exchanged emails with many and even met a few in person.
And did I mention that I got a dog and a cat?
Thank you to everyone who has made this year such a turning point for me.