I’ve been keeping a secret. I want to share it with you all now that I know it is real.
I’m going to Odyssey!
OMG. I’ve told some people close to me and I didn’t wake up from any dream, and Jeanne Cavelos didn’t email to rescind the offer, and I didn’t get hit by a truck.
In response to a post I wrote last autumn wherein I worried about my decision to write Sofia and Rose left comments that helped me move forward. They gave me honest encouragement and good advice.
Rose wrote: “I hope that you will keep writing. Yes, it is painful. Yes, the demon/inner critic is never far away. Yes, you will probably not feel good about the process for a long time yet.
Yes, your writing is worthwhile. Yes, what you say is important. Yes, it is worth working on. It is hard to believe that things improve, but they do. It took me five years of practice and despair to sometimes feel that I am a bit better. I think the key for me was to learn to accept stories as they come, and the fact that they come even though I am a flawed vessel. It is not in me to continuously reject them, so all I can do is work on the vessel.”
And Sofia wrote: “Keep fighting for what you really want. You have to make space for it, mentally, before anything else.”
Their comments reminded me of the quote: “By the side of the everlasting Why, there is a Yes.” I needed to hear that “yes” – that I heard it from two writers I admire greatly was like hearing the birds chirping and singing while I witnessed the dawn – another dimension of affirmation. It helped that Rose acknowledged the pain.
And I am reminded of the poem “God Says Yes To Me” by Kaylin Haught.
And so with the acceptance to Odyssey my journey continues to move forward. I had been paddling my way through a shallows, in a way: trying to avoid scrapping the bottom of the boat and getting stuck. With the encouragement of friends and fellow writers I rowed myself to a river. With this acceptance into an esteemed, intense writing workshop I feel like I’m approaching the rapids! Skill, concentration, being present, awareness will get me through. And lots of hard work.
I will have progressed. I am in process. My writing evolves and I along with it.
I told myself I’m going somewhere this summer – wasn’t sure if it was going to be a Clarion workshop, or Odyssey, or the Iowa Writers’ Festival, or Breadloaf, but I was going to go somewhere, damn it. I am going to do this thing – this thing that is forever, ever-changing, and full of the wonder and pain found in life itself. And I am!
For weeks after receiving the acceptance from Jeanne I was ecstatic (still am), and excited to have this opportunity to work hard with other writers (still am), but I was nervous that I would not be good enough. One might ask: who am I to question her judgment?
Well, I am still nervous, but less so. I realize that I have a great deal of influence in how things turn out. I have made (and continue to make) the mental space for my writing, for one. I made the decision to attend a workshop (and look where that got me – to Odyssey!). I can also, you know, write and read and critique and revise and write and read some more. These are all things I do which will affect what I can put into my Odyssey experience and which will affect what I and the other writers get out of it (to put it in simplistic, exchange terminology – which is not how I view the process and experience, but I am tired and these are the words that come to mind. I hope you’ll understand my shorthand).
The other thing that really helped fortify my self-confidence was a call from Clarion letting me know that I was accepted off the wait list. Oh, bittersweet news! I will so apply to Clarion again. This year is for Odyssey.