09 February 2009

Patricia...a symposium in D minor

Tony Hillerman, author of the Navajo mystery novels such as Coyote Waits, once said in an interview that writer’s block is another word for laziness. Well, for the past six weeks or so I’ve been neither blocked (writing wise) nor lazy. After a brief stint at a new job that ended in disaster, I find my personal creativity bubbling up like artesian well water.
It started a little before that, when I was unable to write for 5-8 hour stretches. I sat at a computer terminal in a room that was too hot, and highly toxic, causing my eyes to burn and my throat to be so raw that I coughed almost continuously. The instructor was a kid not too much older than my own, and seemed to have genuine trouble connecting with someone older than she.
I was having trouble working the database, trying to navigate a complex series of database windows all the while she sat beside me talking to me as if I were a nursing home resident.
I don’t know what irritated me more; her or the fact the damned computer’s screen saver would turn on every few minutes, sometimes throwing me completely out of the system, forcing me to start over. During this time a woman who sat behind me regaled us with off tune gospel while alternately shoving food in her mouth.
Why didn’t she choke? That my dear ones is mystery for the ages.
The instructor suggested after my torturous crawl through the database system that I should start sending out resumes.
I had no clue, when I took this job, that sending out a repairman to someone’s house was so complicated.
I rode home with another lady who, although helpful at first started encouraging me to quit. On the last day I was at work, she and I had a long talk about it. I know the instructor put her up to it, but at that point in time I didn’t care. I was all for letting that go. I got home, and was violently ill.
It occurred to me while kneeling at the altar of the porcelain god that no job should ever make one projectile vomit.
My husband asked if I was okay, and I told him I was not. I told him about everything that had gone one while at work. I told him I wanted to quit. He shrugged and said he didn’t want me to go in the first place. That my place was home and more specifically in my office. He jokingly threatened to chain me to the desk.
I went back to full time writing. My stomach unclenched. I was able to hold down food again. I was stressed because I had tons to do, but it was a happy kind of stress (if that makes sense) and was glad to work.
A few days after the disaster at the company I worked with I received notification that a book I had written was accepted by a publishing company. Since I haven’t gotten the contract for it yet, I’m not saying much more than that. Later, a friend of mine emailed me and offered to pay for my membership to NETWO (North East Texas Writers Association) as well as their annual conference. This is an exciting opportunity for me because the guests there are agents and editors who work in the genres that I do.
I entered two writer’s contests thus far and plan to do others. One is for NETWO the other is the Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition. That entailed a marathon writing session that lasted nearly four days. I had a novel almost completed, and I spent those days literally from the moment I got up until I went to bed around midnight, working up a proposal, plus polishing and completing the novel that was still in the raw. It was quite an experience, an exhausting one to be sure, I ain’t no spring chicken any more. But the coughing stopped, my eyes cleared, my stomach unclenched. My butt was growing calluses from sitting so much, but I was happy. I was in my element doing what I love to do more than anything in the world.
My husband brought me food, (during marathon writing sessions there has to be dark chocolate) love and encouragement while I wrote, telling me how happy he was seeing me sitting at the desk again doing what I love to do the most.
I found the Texas Book Festival’s site and their webpage for novel submissions. In April I’ll be sending them the two copies of Mercer’s Bayou. I’d love to become an exhibitor, but wouldn’t like to do it solo. I’m hoping I can find Texas Samhain and Whispers authors to join me there.
I still have two more novels to complete; the proposal for one is being sent to NETWO for review from the Tor/Forge editor. I have another novel to complete this spring, and a host of new ideas clamoring for attention for this summer’s writing fun.
And promotions. Of course there’ll be promotions. Books a Million in Texarkana already has space reserved for me as soon as Mercer’s Bayou goes into print.
As the sun breaks out over the horizon, spilling soft golden light through my office window, I feel hopeful that my career as a writer will blossom into something much more that what I dreamed it would be. As I gaze out the window, watching the sun peeking through the pines, I am reminded of an ancient Navajo prayer. Beauty before me, Beauty behind me, beauty all around me. . .
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