My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.
Friday, January 4, 2013
Hope is the thing with feathers....
Oh, readers. Happy New Year. You are such a devoted crowd. I raise my cup of coffee to you. Thank you for your unending support and readership. (except for you damn hackers who post in languages I don't even have a keyboard for, attached to links that I'm not old enough to see...may lightning strike your evil computers) 2012 was a tough year for me professionally. Who am I kidding? I was a VOLUNTEER in 2012. Okay, I made a little money, but just enough to cover my expenses like printer cartridges (and I buy them recycled). In many ways, 2012 was the year I received the most encouragement, the most leads, the most initial interest in my work, so it translated into the biggest gap between expectation and reality. Which was painful. But I'm not here to whine. Oh, no, I am not. I am here to share the love. At this very moment, I am in my little office in my backyard. It was once part of an old carriage house, later an art studio (yes, I hope some of those muses stayed behind), then a storage shed, then a room with a beer refrigerator, then an Odyssey of the Mind practice space, then finally, my office. I LOVE my office. It has Tiffany blue walls, a hideous (but bargain purchase) shiny black electric fireplace, lots of bookcases and inspirational quotes on the walls. It houses fabulous illustrator art and lots of manuscripts. Some on the brink of chiminea time and some of the brink of brilliance. But that is beside the point. I am in my office. It is about 41 degrees outside and about 43 inside (thank goodness for the electric fireplace- ha ha). It will be about 70 by the time I'm ready to get the kids from school, so I'm still working on my timing of all this...anyway, my fingers are cold and chapped and kind of purple. I am wearing a down coat and a wool hat. My nose is icy. My coffee grows cold immediately. If I want to use my printer or copy machine, I have to turn everything else off in the office (lights, fireplace, etc.) or I will blow the fuse. I can't bring any food in here at all, or mice will find me (and not the kind from Enchanted who clean up when I sing--these mice just stand there, twitching their nose, being cute, which totally saves their lives). At any rate, my point is this. I come in here every day. And it's not for the fancy digs. Or the big money. Or the great accolades from Publisher's Weekly. Not for the letters from my fans. Not for the steady work. Because if you've been paying attention, I don't have any of those things. I come here because I love my work. I feel called to write, to create to pull words together in a magical way. I love it. When I have a good writing day, ALL is right in the world (see how I resisted using a pun there? Oh, how I wanted to....). When I don't write, things are a little off until I do. So that is reason enough for me to press on. Will I ever sell another manuscript? another short story for a magazine? Will I ever win a contest? Or hold ARCs of my book in my hands? I honestly don't know. I want to. I hope so. But I have to admit, that even if I never get any of those things, writing will have given me plenty. My characters have given me insight and vision and direction that I would never have known without them. My stories have purged my tears and shown me the light. I've been places I never would have gone, imagined scenarios that get me trembling with fear, and renewed my hope in mankind. Because art is truly working hand in hand with God. The glimpses and breakthroughs and working from the perspective of a child is simply a celebration of all creation. All that is LIVING is celebrated in a book. So instead of calling myself a writer, perhaps I should call myself a LIVER. (a chicken liver when I don't submit) Because I only truly experience things when I round them up with my pen. Or I should call myself a CELEBRATOR. Because I am seized with joy and satisfaction all over again when I write of the triumph of a character who was once downtrodden and without hope. Or maybe I will call myself a FAN because as I write, I find beauty and preciousness and golden places in everything. Everything. And I know that I could only do that with God's divine hand because the human inclination is darker, tinged with fear, and I am never afraid when I am in my Tiffany blue box, shivering with cold and excitement, typing away on my keyboard with some letters nearly smudged off. (s,e,a--I will remember that when I am on wheel of fortune) I didn't tell you this before, but in my absence from you in the month of December, I was debating, praying, wondering, pondering...is it time for me to abandon this 'hobby'? I am now without an agent, without representation in this big cold world of publishing. I am back to square one. Starting over in many ways. My manuscripts losing in a fiction contest where I placed in years past. Requested manuscripts rejected. Celebrity author bumping my manuscripts right out of the acquisition and marketing meeting. Is it time for me to return to the classroom or take on a new career altogether? Can my work here possibly be of any importance to the world, and if it isn't, am I selfish to keep doing it? I prayed for a sign, a signal, anything that would encourage me in one direction or the other. Then, I barely paid attention. Because I didn't want to know if the answer was for me to move on. I wasn't ready. And then I was. For about two weeks, I was completely comfortable with the idea of quitting. I hadn't even told my writing partner, but I was 90% sure this was it for me. In the midst, I even agreed to go to a conference with her to promote her book, to support her success (because truly, it is almost like my own in my degree to excitement and pride). But then yesterday came. And my writing partner wanted my goals for the new year. She wanted my assessment of last year's goals. And it was easier to sit down and go through it than to break the news. So I did. And I wrote. And I assessed. And I looked at all the progress I made last year (yes, I actually had a great year despite the fact that no one really noticed). And I fell in love with my office all over again. I found a tear in my eye for my favorite protagonist whose story I have been agonizing over for years. And I realized that I hold a lot of power in my pen. The world needs lovely, hopeful, encouraging, exciting, game-changing stories. For children. And I love to write them. Who's to say it can't be me that brings these stories? Who's to say I can't be the one who makes it? What makes me think I'm less selfish for squandering my talent and desire if I quit? Perhaps, I've been given a mountain of resistance, so I can climb it and see the view from the top. So here I go. Hoping and dreaming again. Looking at a new year of working my bahonkas off, but knowing I am called to do it. For whatever reason. THAT remains to be seen. For now, I am grateful for my Tiffany blue office, my own personal field of dreams, and the way each day of writing shaves the hard edges off my own character. It's humbling. It yields compassion. It teaches me the value of working. It makes me appreciate the ultimate creator when I settle in to create another day. I am grateful for the children I love, the whole joy of childhood that inspires great literature. And I pray to be worthy. To bring something to the table. And the words of dear Emily Dickinson come to me. "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul--and sings the tunes without the words--and never stops at all." Hope--don't fail me now.
Posted by Donna Jones Koppelman at 9:27 AM