Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taste of Success

This year I tasted those drops of sweet success when I received my first writer's paycheck (a $100 honorarium) upon publication in the Travelers' Tales anthology The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2009: True Stories From Around the World. Yesterday I read an excerpt from my story, "Rite of Passage", participating with several other contributors in an 'Author Talk' at my local independent bookstore.

There is nothing like the enthusiastic response of an audience (laughter in all the right places, questions and book signing) to boost the fragile author-ego. Like many other writers, especially the fledglings, I've often gone to battle with the inner demons of self-doubt and denial that threaten a creative life and keep me from taking my work seriously. I repeatedly ask myself: Is it any good? Does someone really want to read this? Will anyone benefit from my writing?

Even when I feel deeply inspired I often convince myself I must feed the worm bin or attend to a myriad of other tasks before I can sit down to write. Meanwhile those wild geese, shaped like paper silhouettes against a thick orange sunset, keep flapping their wings toward dusk.

The other night I sat down at my desk, determined to revise a query for a national travel magazine. I'd written this letter two months before, but for whatever fear-induced reason we humans put things off I still hadn't sent it. The pitch was for a story I'd written almost one year ago, which I had submitted to numerous newspapers. Those submissions were followed by a few nice rejections ("We have someone covering that region already"; "We are unable to use freelancers at this time"; "We're running a story on a similar topic in a different place"; and even one "Try again next year.")

So in usual procrastination fashion I checked my email first. For once, putting things off worked in my favor, for waiting in my in-box were words sweeter than any Rosh Hashana apples & honey:

"Better late than never, but we would like to publish your story if it’s still available."

Barely able to contain myself, I leapt into my partner Kristen's arms and danced throughout the house. On the road to my day job the next morning I repeated my mantra with confidence: I am a writer. I am a writer. I'm a writer!

It's the time of year for reflection, renewal and return.

What is your heart’s longing that you also struggle to claim?

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