A year ago today I left what I’d always called home – Texas and set out for an adventure in Tennessee. It’s amazing how fast time flies when you’re dreaming. A year in and my future is still as uncertain as ever. What I mean is, the sky is still the limit and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Since I left Texas I’ve put close to 1,000 miles on my car, yet I’m dying for the next road trip to someplace I’ve never been before. It’s as if my spirit is restless and my body is thirsty for a new experience. Being open-minded is truly a blessing and a curse because at some point in life it’s good to become grounded – in something. I can’t say I’m any closer to finding myself or feeling content than I was on the day I left, but a lot has changed.
For starters, the MFA program has made me a better reader. I don’t say writer, because I don’t think writers can be made – something has to be there in the beginning in order for the program to work and yield positive results. Whether those results mean getting published, completing a story, or learning something it’s different for every person, but through the reading I’ve learned to recognize what works and what doesn’t work and why – that in my opinion has made me a better writer.
I still haven’t gotten anything published, but I’ve only tried once and with a piece I was iffy about, in a genre that is not commonly my own – creative non-fiction. I write fiction. There is so much I’ve learned since submitting that piece that makes me shudder at the thought I actually let someone else read it. But it was a start – I keep my fiction on lockdown and it felt good to finally let go of something.
I think I write better when I’m not trying to write. When I’m trying my voice gets lost in what I think I’m supposed to be doing instead of just transcribing what is being said. Since my mentor left I suffered a serious setback. It was as if he was the wind beneath my wings encouraging me to keep cranking stuff out and telling me it was worth reading. It’s really funny when you think about the fact that I didn’t think we’d click at first. I felt like someone had taken my closest ally hostage and the ransom was for me to write something good. I couldn’t even begin to do it. Everything creative in me seemed to leave when he left – only he’d left willingly because he has his own life, his own pieces to work on and more people to inspire. He had become my confidence and now that he was gone I’d once again misplaced it. How on earth had I let that happen – again?
When I left Texas I also left behind one of my closest supporters. He encouraged me to leave to follow my dreams, told me to “reach for the stars” and even helped finance my journey. After I’d been here for a while I missed the connection we had that a phone call couldn’t replace. Like my mentor, he kept me going when the waters got murky, but what I couldn’t see then, that I can see now, are all the wonderful lessons they both left behind. They knew the journey wouldn’t be easy, but they felt it was one I could successfully complete and both just waiting for me to see within myself what they could already see. Wow! It’s like having the keys to the kingdom in a glass jar and not having the courage to try and take the lid off.
So with that in mind I’m determined to not only write the final chapters of the piece I’ve been working on, but to fix the holes in the earlier ones so that I can be that much closer to being ready for thesis. Right now I’m not focused on publication. I just want to finish what I’m working on. Occasionally there are brief moments when I think it would be great to be able to do this for a living, but then I pull my head back out of the clouds and submit another resume in hopes of finding something to finance my journey to Writerland.
In the past I’ve planned and scheduled and fretted about my next steps, but it feels really good to hide the calendar and just be in the moment – wherever that may be. I’ve always said happiness comes from within and it’s nice to finally understand what that means even if just for a moment. It’s not about being published, although one day that would be really nice. It’s not about having a 4.0 GPA or finding the person of your dreams. It’s knowing that if today you write only one paragraph, if you’re granted tomorrow, there’s a chance you’ll be inspired to write several more.
I signed another year lease which means I’ll be hanging out in Tennessee for another year, but I plan on being productive while I’m here. I want my next hundred miles to be memorable ones. Thanks again for coming along with me on this journey.