The full-on reality hit me last week when I typed THE END on the memoir manuscript I’ve been working on for, ahem, decades.
I cocked my head and shifted my gaze from my screen out the window of my rented Furnished Finder, the gingko tree’s limon leaves flapping in the breeze.
I'm on a creative journey!
I had no idea, when I set out on my Ramblin’ Anne roadtrip in June of 2021, that it was not only an outward adventure – covering 1000s of miles and upwards of 30 US states and national parks – but an inward one, too.
Of course I had some idea; but the truth's become clearer as, over the last year, I’ve gotten more silent and still – amblin’ versus ramblin’, slowmad versus nomad – six months on Chincoteague Island and, now, going on six months here in the mountains of Western North Carolina – typing away.
I smiled broadly, that ah-ha afternoon, exhaling as I shut the lid of my laptop to a thwack. It was finally time to quit hiding inside the thousands of pages written and rewritten and whittled down a still verbose 100,000 words.
It was time to out myself and my story. Because it’s absolutely not THE END, but just the beginning of embracing the writer within – of finding and projecting my voice into the world.
Strings Attached: A Memoir of Music, Marriage and Escape tells the story of young me who, through high school, led a double life, covering up the affair I was having with my married music teacher. The rebellious eldest, I was determined to escape my father’s alcohol-infused abuse and the impending implosion of our nuclear family. In the maestro, my music mentor, a man 18 years my senior, I found solace and safety – until he ensnared me, age 15, in an all-consuming clandestine affair that changed everything.
Though it may sound grim, make no mistake: this is a heroine’s journey. You know the crux of a heroine’s journey? It's a return to true self. Yes, I am lured into eloping with him - but eventually I muster all my dust-devil forces to break free from the savior-predator and go on to live life on my terms.
And I’ve never looked back – well, except, admittedly, a lot, over the years, to get the story on paper and, in doing so, release the secret shame that trails a young trauma victim throughout life, like the tail on a kite.
Yeah, admittedly, I looked back - A LOT.
BONUS: the writing has been a healing journey, too! In addition to Caroline, my blessed crooked scoli spine I write about and have to tended to on the Ramblin’ Anne road, I've had a wounded heart to mend.
You’ll read the whole story WHEN it comes out. And that’s my next writerly task: to attract and awesome agent and publisher who GET and LOVE my project.
It's the third bullet point on the neon poster behind my head entitled My Big Beautiful Book Dream – and I feel my heart palpitate as I read it because this marketing phase of the creative process is classically fraught with REEEE-jection.
But they cannot reject what you don’t submit, right? And, I remind myself, as president of SeeChange Consulting LLC: I know how to do this stuff! Gather data, populate spreadsheets, adopt a system of query tracking and follow-up, attend conferences and pitch to agents in speed-dating format, bam-bam-bam.
Still, I feel myself shift into Resistance – which looks, at night, like fitful sleep and, by day, like fireworks of nerve pain shoot out my low lumbar into my legs – nervous system on high alert for inevitable rejection.
Then, some good news arrives...
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities has awarded me an FY24 fellowship grant to support my work as an artist. Wow, as an artist!
In the same week, this bulletin shows-up in my in-box: a story of mine published in May by Grace & Gravity Literary Journal, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Apparently, that's a big deal in the world of letters.
After so much inwardness, it's nice to be acknowledged by the external world. I add these nice little credentials to my slim writer’s bio, letting the exulted agents know: I’m not exactly a nobody.
And then another ah-ha comes, quiet as a whispered secret. Pssst, I think I'm living my dream.
The very first point on my poster of Big Beautiful Book Dreams say: To write for the creative, cathartic joy of it in hopes of touch and inspiring others to live their dreams, too.
So yes, I am living my dream, friends, horray!
How about you? What are your dreams - I’m talking about the quiet ones you keep private even from yourself? Listen closely, hear them, scribble them on neon poster board, claim them, share them, scream them.
Don’t just listen to me; listen to Jai Jagdeesh sing you some sweet, sonorous inspiration. She’s gotten me through many a doubting day.
In Dreams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7hTv-btGdU