Thursday, June 3, 2010

Who Are You Again?

--Adrienne Miller

There we all were a year ago, sitting around Lisa’s back patio table feeling each other out over pitchers of margaritas. I was quiet, really quiet. Shutting the hell up is what I do when I’m in way over my head. I think it comes from that Mark Twain quote about it being better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. And I really didn’t want any of these people to think me a fool. Especially not L.G.C.--I know wicked smart when I hear it. 

Usually it’s my pride that makes me not want to be seen as an ignorant buffoon, but this time I was staring down something far more frightening than a bruised ego if I stumbled. As I saw it, I was the low man on the totem pole...or patio table. I didn’t even really know why I was there--unpublished, unagented. I wasn’t a writer. Not really. Yeah, I had finished one (really bad) manuscript and was half way through another, but that didn’t make me anything but a wannabe. These guys, they were the real deal.
 I worried all that afternoon that one of them was going to realize their mistake. Sorry, we thought you were someone else. You understand.

And I really didn’t want to go. Everyone was smiling and laughing and talking about people and things I didn’t completely understand. So, I watched and listened, and I got to see the first glimpses of all the strengths that ended up making this group so powerful--Sophie’s natural leadership, Juliet’s drive, Rachael’s joy, L.G.C’s intelligence, Lisa’s determination, Martha’s strength and Gigi’s poise. 
The year went by, and what a year it was. Books came out. Rejections came in. Some of us went to every writing conference scheduled in the western hemisphere and others stayed home and wrote in the quiet(ish) corners of cafes after work. I knew everyday when I checked my email there would be a message from one of the Pens. If one of us had something going on, good or bad, we always knew that we had seven others behind us, cheering us on, pushing us when we needed it...and some of us needed it a lot. It didn’t matter if one was mustering up the courage to send out her first query (me) or another needed help picking out her dress for a major award ceremony (so not me). We could always count on each other. 

Little by little, I started feeling less like a wannabe and more like the real thing. I was really doing this. I wrote every day. I started making choices based on my writing schedule. When people asked what I did, I told them I was writer. 
Writing is lonely and it’s hard, not coal mining hard, but rough in its own confronting-your-personal-demons-on-a-daily-basis kind of way. And its awesome. Life changing awesome. Endless possibilities awesome. The kind of awesome that’s best if you can share it with friends. 
A year later I realize how lucky I am...even if I’m still a little uncertain of what the hell I’m doing here.


Sophie Littlefield said...

oh, sparkle girl, *I* know exactly what you are doing here. You are the Real Deal with all capital letters. But I also know the feeling you describe, the alone in the room feeling...been there all too often. Well, The Big Guy has to keep giving us challenges or we wouldn't enjoy the highs as much. Not sure why you get an extra serving now and then, but I know you're going to conquer - and conquer big.

Mysti Lou said...

Just so you know, from the moment I met you, "wannabe" was the LAST adjective you'd prompt. And thanks for letting me know that I'm not the only one knocked over by a rogue wave of feeling after finishing one of THOSE scenes :)

Every one of the pens that I've met is brilliant, generous, supportive, and most important of all in these grim times, FUN!!!!

Thank you ladies for sharing the joy.

Juliet Blackwell said...

I love that idea, that writing is life-changing awesome. So true, that. And isn't it incredible to find a whole bunch of folks as crazy and bent on change as we are?!

And hey Mysti -- thanks for weighing in on our little love-fest. You're definitely an honorary Pen in my book ;-)

Martha Flynn said...

It's a good thing you didn't try to leave. We DID have a gun and a pair of handcuffs that day.

Unknown said...

Well, now I'm a little teary eyed. :) I remember being very nervous for that first all of us get together. What if....? So many things could have gone the wrong way and NOTHING did. That's because it was meant to be. :) :)

Rachael Herron said...

That just made me misty, too. What a lovely, lovely post. xoxox

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