I work at a small LGBT foundation and one of the young staff came to me for advice about her writing---getting started, how to write about her topic of interest (sex) and still have a professional career, finding her genre/style/voice.
I tried not to scream: GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!
Ultimately her enthusiasm almost dispelled my world-weary cloud and rejuvenated my memories of how I'd thrown myself naked into the writing pool 30 years ago. Although it's usually the biggest lesson I have to drill into my writing students I didn't have to remind her to get a back up job skill; she already has that (which I bless every day). She's much more organized than I was at her age. So mostly I repeated that trendy sports slogan: "Just do it!"
I emphasized making a writing date w/herself and keeping it as if her book was the lover she'd always wanted to call.
I don't know how helpful it was for her but it was like a biofeedback session for me. I could hear myself saying what I needed to hear. With the domination of the state equal marriage case and the impending ballot measure to take our rights back my partner and I have been absorbed in learning media speak and what fabrics don't work on TV. Then Gay Pride arrived in San Francisco---a holiday that totally rivals the Fourth of July (which we refer to as Gay Pride Recovery Day). The slew of out-of-town houseguests who descended to celebrate Pride and/or get married left a trail of sheets and towels I've just finished laundering.
I used catching up on old episodes of CSI, The Closer and Monk like sherbert to clear my brain and recover; then I realized I needed to be writing...I hadn't had a date in way too long. In early spring I'd mailed off a new edit of my new novel to my agent. She's busy so I was waiting. I'd entered that dank, vacuous tunnel where writing is an elusive joy, vaguely remembered when I sit down at my desk....to pay bills.
I was just at that place where I cry. And I do believe in crying and laughing as medicine that can move you forward. I could feel the tears welling up and hear that whiny voice inside asking: Am I still a writer? Never mind that I have a schedule of readings and speeches stretching into 2009 or that my essay was just in the SF Pride guide...am I still a writer?! I could feel myself creeping (figuratively) toward the12th story ledge and throwing that identity over.
Then salvation came in the form of a fat packet from my agent. She'd mailed my mss back with a few editing comments/corrections that I scarfed down like guacamole on a chip. I love the way my heart changes pace when I write and edit. It's thrilling, fulfilling, compelling satisfying. It's that perfect date you can't keep your eyes off of.
Then I finished with her edits. My heart sunk. I filed papers and folders away slowly. Now what? I noticed the folder on my computer desktop and remembered that I had my play about James Baldwin waiting in the wings. I took a peek at it...ummm...figured I should print it out and re-read over the weekend.
Now if I can just remember I can make the date myself and not wait for someone else to ask me to dance.