Sunday, April 7, 2013

Step One

You might have noticed my absence from the blogosphere for the last few weeks.  As March rolled on, I made a decision to actually finish first draft of the novel.  Instead of using my morning time to blog the last few weeks, I used it to write my novel.  On Easter Sunday, I finally completed one of the first steps of a project that has stretched eight years now.  With 92,418 words spread over 476 double-spaced pages, the first draft is complete.  I will make content edits next, then move to proofing.  I am excited to move on in the project and start a few more.  I plan on completing two more novels this year while submitting this work to agents and publishers.  Wish me luck!  If you are interested in reading the opening chapter, I have posted it here.  Enjoy!  Now, on to today’s blog.
Sometimes in our lives, we fail to believe in something until we have proof.  Though many of our lives our built on some sort of faith in larger ideals, when it comes to smaller, personal ideas, skepticism rules the day.  As a writer, I have experienced this sort of faith challenge for a long time.

I have always held the idea of “Frank Chambers - author” close to my heart.  In High School and college, I channeled my words through poetry, usually the tortured heart type as I struggled to understand both the pain and joy of finding love.  Interestingly enough, my painful poetry dried up not long after I met my wife, leaving my writing whimsically descriptive and metaphysically introspective (click for some less tortured examples). 2004, after returning from performing in London for a time, I faced a decision about my future.  Writing remained my passion, though I did not write at the time.  So, in order to fuel the fire, I enrolled in post-baccalaureate English classes.  I figured an English degree would help me feel like a writer.  

Unfortunately, during my first semester back, I faced the first of many internal hurdles.  Instead of following through with that path, I chose to fall back on what I knew I did well - music.  I reasoned that I could earn my teaching certificate, teach band for money, and write at the same time.  Since my certificate would take two years of classes to earn, I might as well get my Masters in Performance at the same time.

Where is the time to write in all of that?  Exactly.  I succumbed to my own personal skepticism, failing to trust in myself and my dreams.

So, fast forward to 2005.  I got married.  I scratched down some notes on a story idea called the Lone Procession, but didn’t do much with it.  

In 2006 I graduated with my Masters and teaching certificate and started teaching high school band.  The plan commenced.  The writing did not.  Those readers who teach band understand the lack of free time, or energy to write when free time occurs.
In 2008, I realized four years had passed.  I hadn’t done a thing.  Writer?  Nope.  Unless I planned on abandoning my supposed passion, I had better get moving.  I resumed making notes on the Lone Procession.  I spent many a night in creative avoidance, performing “research” on how to write.  Finally, I wrote a chapter that is now the prologue.

So in 2010, again realizing how much time had passed since I decided to write, I came across a very simple statement.  The first step to being a writer is to write.  Duh!  Without active writing, I am just a dreamer, an idea factory sitting idle.  The universe smacked me in the face, placed the paddles on my chest, yelled “Clear!” and shocked me back to life.  I began my blog.  I wrote.  

In 2011, I changed my career to free up time to write, taking faith steps I should have been strong enough to take in 2004.  I started transforming The Lone Procession into a novel. question of when to refer to myself as a writer still plagues me.  I am not a published author yet, but does being published grant me the title?  Is there a graduation from amateur to professional?  No.  I am a writer because I write.  It remains as simple as that.  I write a blog.  I have completed a novel.  Despite knowing this, the internal skeptic still cringes when Samantha refers to me as an author.

Now, I sit here writing, still doubtful, still scared, still mildly skeptical.  My belief barrier has taken some blows; it leans a little crookedly, the light hiding behind it shining through new cracks.  I have taken step one though, and while I still find embracing full belief challenging, step two looks much easier than it did before.  All it took was one step.

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