Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Girl Who Could Fly

Recently I read this book...


The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester

It was excellent. Beautiful. Moving. Touching. Exciting. Lovely. Thrilling. Oy. Yep, it was really great. 

The book started with a quote.

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, 
night and day, to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle which any human
being can fight; and never stop fighting.

e.e. cummings

I adore that. It resonated with me. The world is trying to make us like everyone else and it's up to each of us to stand up and fight to be something different. Or we might as well jump into the fast current sweeping past and be like everyone else. 

But no! Find your own voice. Your own style. Your own groove. Your own path. And go for it! What is stopping you?  What is stopping you from being who you want to be?

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. 

e.e. cummings

I've been writing for years. And I keep trying to perfect my craft,  to write stories I want to read and to write stories which make other readers say, "Wow." 

When I applied for a scholarship to the Highlights conference in Chautauqua a few years ago, I had to answer some questions. I tried to be witty in my application, to show my voice. A friend, Lindsey Leavitt, had applied and won a scholarship a few years before that and shared some of the things she'd done, being funny was one of them. Somewhere on the application,I can't remember what question it was in response to, I talked about winning a rejection letter contest. 

I said something like, "I don't like to brag and I don't want to intimidate anyone, but I won The Most Rejections Letter Contest for the Utah and Idaho SCBWI chapter with 72 rejections. I'm so proud." 

Later after I was at Chautauqua I got my application papers back. 

I was lucky enough to get Patricia Lee Gauch as my mentor. She'd written all over my application with notes and thoughts. Near one of my funny remarks she wrote something like, "Shows a good sense of timing." 

I loved that. 

But she wrote something near my 72 rejections comment where, sarcastically, I'd said I was so proud. I can't remember exactly what it was. And I don't want to root around for the papers which are hiding somewhere in the pit which is my craft room. But it went like...

"But not entirely un-proud. Obviously there is something that needs to be learned." 

Oh, Patti. You are so right. 

And then she read the first few chapters of my book. She helped me improve them. She totally got what I was trying to say, what I was trying to do and she helped me do it. The trip to New York was worth it for those sessions with Patti, who by the way, got behind in her critiques and so I got to have lunch with her one day and then dinner with her and her husband another day. 

The last morning at Chautauqua, she had me come talk to her at breakfast. 

She gave me the name of an agent I should contact. She told me I could use her name when I did. 

{cue heavenly choir of angels}

She said I should have the book done in a month. 

Soon after I was on my way to catch my plane. And I was on fire. I was going to write this book. Patti thought I had talent. I was going to do it. 

And then I got home. Reality set it. How could I finish this book in a month with four little ones running around? And soon we were expecting baby #5.

I did contact the suggested agent (I know....I know....I've mentioned this a hundred times....) and she got back to me saying how much she respected Patti and that she'd love to take a look at the first few chapters. I shared them. She responded. 

And she wanted to see the whole book when it was done. 

Anyone want to take a guess how long ago that was? 

Two and a half years.

I could kick myself. No....I could throttle myself. And then completely ignore myself for a week.

I ask myself, why? And, how did this happen? How could I not finish it? I tell myself things like....

I had a new baby. 

It's tough being a momma of 5 kids. 

I don't have enough time in the day. 

If only I had a couple more hours to myself. 

It's a lie. I mean, it's true...being momma to five little ones is tough work. But I've had time to finish this book. I've had the time. But I've chosen to fill it up with other things. Some things are important...playing with my kids, being involved in my church callings and playing raquet ball with my husband (he creamed me last night.).

But there is a whole lot of other time which I've wasted.

One example...I've spent too much time messing around with crafts on this blog. Because it was easier than making myself be a stinky writer so I can learn how to be a better one. 

It all comes down to not choosing who I want to be. What am I waiting for? I think I've thought that I had all the time in the world to fiddle around with crafts and waste time on the internet and and...all the hundred other things which have sucked up my time.  And don't get me wrong, I love to create and make things, but from now on, I doubt I'll be sharing much of them here. I'll still sew and such, but I think what I talk about on my blog, what I choose to focus on is a direct reflection of the direction I'm headed. And I need to be more selective about the other things that do fill up my time. Kids, yes. Husband, yes. Church, yes. But does Zoe need ten different dresses to wear to church? Or one hundred hair bows? I need to look at my time and choose the best uses for it. 

I've been afraid to throw myself completely into this role.

*It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

e.e. cummings 

It's been easier to hide in a limbo world where I tell myself that I'm working on the book. It's easier to exist in a place where I'm not putting myself out there too much. There isn't much risk. I'm not finishing the book and then learning it's complete crud. No, I'm still working on it and it's a safe place to be. But I'm also not finishing the book and learning how to make it better.

Years have gone by and I'm still just working on it. 

But I want to be a writer. That's what I choose. And I hope I can stick with this choice. 

I am a writer. And I will finish this book. Then I'll write the next one and the next one and the next one and the...

Listen; there's a heck of a good universe next door: Let's go.
(and no...he didn't say heck! :)

e.e. cummings

So, what about you? Have you decided who you want to be when you grow up? And are you being that person? If not, what are you waiting for?

* yes. I've discovered I love quotes from e.e. cummings


  1. Great post. I can relate. How close are you to finishing the book? Do you still plan to send it to the agent? I hope you do!

    1. Thanks Alice! You rock.

      How close am I? Good question...I'm hoping a few months. I wanted to be done by the end of last year. But...blech...didn't happen. And yes, I plan to send it to the agent. Let's hope she has a teeny tiny spark of recognition!

  2. This was an amazing post... As a mom and as a woman and as a writer who's just a little bit afraid to actually be a writer, I identified with so much that you said. ((hugs)) to you...

    (You can do it.)

    1. Thanks Jo! I really appreciate that. It's nice to know I have some good company on this crazy insane road. :)

  3. (Hee, you just showed up in my google alert)
    Erin, you are a writer. A fabulous writer. And yes. You need to finish that book. Set a due date and DO IT.

    1. LOL....that's awesome.

      Thanks for the kind words, sweet friend. And I'm going to do it. I WILL FINISH THE BOOK (hopefully before 40 years have passed)

  4. Beautiful and inspiring! Go you! I'll look forward to reading your book!

    1. Thanks Cindy! I really appreciate the support! And I look forward to you reading my book, too! :)

  5. I relished every word of that post my dear friend. I think you would make a good book reviewer .....I know that's not the right word but you know what I mean. You are way too hard on yourself girlie!! You've got time! Luckily writing is not only for the young and glamorous (although you still are) I just love ya!!!

    1. Thanks cute rock. And I know I have time, but it's hard not to look back and see the time I've wasted and brood a bit about it. I guess I give into my inner-Eeyore at times.

      And thank you. I do feel young and glamorous....even when I'm up to my eyeballs in dirty diapers and whiney kids. Yep. That's the glamorous life.

      I love you, too!! And your comment made me grin. =)

  6. Wow... I found i love e.e. cunnings too! :) Good for you for sending it to the editor, good for you for it being almost done, Good for you in general.

    By the way, I want an autographed copy of your book. Okay? Okay.

  7. A mama of 5 kids? I bow to you.
    I only have one right now, a premie, and my life is upside down, the writing is sporadic at best.
    Since you're still on your path to publication despite all your other obligations, I say you are an inspiration.
    I want to be a MG/YA author when I grow up and an author I will be.

    Fellow campaigner here. Nice to meet you. :)