Yesterday was a hard day for me as a writer. Do you ever have one of those days? You know the ones, where if Writing the Lame Sentence were an Olympic event, you’d win so decisively that they’d leave you entirely alone on the winner’s podium? And afterwards the offers of endorsement would pour in, from the George W. Bush School and Sarah Palin Foundation, no less?
Well thanks to some writerly friends of mine, I’m happy to say that my episode didn’t last long. But it made me recall something I wrote last fall, in the Voice I class run by the fabulous Barbara Samuel O’Neal. It was a pledge of sorts, designed to ease our collective sense of vulnerability, and when I dug it out yesterday, it still speaks to me of the fearlessness I yearn for when I finally sit down to the blank page.
I, _________________, hereby agree to undertake Barbara Samuel’s on-line Voice I class from ________ to ________. I do so in an effort to gain a greater understanding of what I have to contribute to the world, specifically in the craft of writing.
I understand this will be a difficult quest. Along the way I will be confronted with any number of personal demons: family ghosts I thought long-returned to the spirit world; Strunk and White, who howl their dismay at my butchery of the English language. (Is “butchery” a real word? See how insidious the monster can be?). I will encounter my old Aunt Agnes, who told me I’d “never amount to anything anyway, so stop puttin’ on airs, gal”, and the English teacher who said I was her first student to change the word “write” into a profanity. All these, and more, I will endure with only a fragment of an iota of a spark of hope to sustain me along the way.
But if I persist, if will I strip off my armor and link arms with my fellow lady-knights and dance naked under the moon, I will find my way through. I’ll grow giddy on words once again. I will write foolish contracts for award-winning writers–whose work I didn’t dare read before this workshop because I’d be too intimidated–with no appreciable purpose other than to make her laugh. I’ll do it just…because. (Okay, fine. There may be some element of avoiding housework in here as well, but I choose to see this as a call to honor my muse.) I will laugh in the face of mine enemies.
And what of those demons anyway? No, they will not vanish. They will stand mute with envy and watch me as I glide. And someday, if I am very, very brave, and very, very wise, I might even invite them into our circle. Imagine: Aunt Agnes, arm-in-arm with Strunk, lecturing him on his pomposity with her breathless, gravelly voice. Now that alone would make it all worthwhile.
Now I’ve decided I’d like to live up to this vision; claim it for a Magna Carta of sorts. Goodness knows I’ll need one for the oily waters that lie ahead.
But how about you? Do you have a mission statement, or inspiring quotations that serve to pull you through the hard times?
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