Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Unquenchable Thirst

Zestful Blog Post #125

Everybody says, ‘Now’s the hardest time to break in.’ They always say that. Because it’s true; it’s always hard. But here’s the thing, also true: There is unquenchable thirst for great story out there. Humans will never stop wanting, needing, craving, story. That’s the beauty of being a storyteller—whether a camp counselor who wants to send them to bed trembling after the bonfire, or a  novelist dreaming of greatness.

I write these words on the eve of meeting with nine aspiring authors in St. Augustine at the Florida Heritage Writers Conference. We’ll meet in the cool kids’ room at the exquisite Markham House on the Flagler College campus. Everybody’s read everybody else’s first ten pages and written critiques. We’ll all discuss the work one at a time, together. I’ll give it everything I’ve got. And we will all learn.

When I was a young girl, I sat next to my mother watching Olympics gymnastics on TV. Stirred, I said, “I’d like to do that!” She said, without even thinking much, “Oh, the chances of making it are so low.”

I meant I’d like to tumble and fly like those girls did. She thought I meant I wanted to be on the Olympics team, stand on the platform and get a medal. She wanted to quash that ambition right away, because so few who try, make it onto the world stage. Why set the kid up for heartbreak? She thought she was doing me a favor. But that’s a terrible way to react to a child’s impulse, or dream. (All loving respect to her memory.)

It’s a fine, but clear, distinction. I never did pursue gymnastics. Just as well, because my body was wrong for it—too spindly, too tall.

But she couldn’t dissuade me from writing, and later from quitting a lucrative corporate job to try to earn a much more meager living from writing. No matter what negativity I got from her, I kept on in some fashion or other, too compelled to give up. Which is really all there is to it. If you’re destined to do it, you’ll keep at it, whatever the externals, whatever the outcome. You have

no choice.

And that’s beautiful. Let it flower. Open. Audiences await.

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  1. I liked your description of lightning hitting a tree yesterday. But the lightning in the story hit the beverage tent. But it occurs to me there would be cases of soda and the soda itself would rapidly reach the boiling point and explode. I can work with that. And everybody was asking where are the parents? Elsewhere. And that's your first clue something is wrong with St. Agnes parish, when, if they want to have a program at all, the seniors have to do it. This is made clear in chapter 2. Your comments, along with Pat's are the useful ones. I hope you use some our suggestions for your blog. JH

  2. I was told the same thing you were. Then someone told me to get out of my own way and just do it. So I did. Thanks.

  3. You're welcome, BJ. And James, that's a brilliant idea about the soda pop getting boiled by the lightning strike. Now I get it about the adults. And yeah, I'll work up some stuff from all yall for an idea for Writer's Digest and/or this blog.... Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for this, for running an excellent critique group on Thursday, and your wonderful presentation on Friday. The section on stormwriting was particularly helpful and is much more in line with my own thought process than traditional brainstorming. Thanks for being awesome!///Brooke

  5. It was great meeting you at the conference last weekend. Your comments on enjoying the thrill of writing and always pushing to learn more are powerful. And you're hilarious behind a podium. Thanks for the encouragement!

    JH - I love your description of the bursting soda cans. Gorgeous.

  6. Brooke, thank you! It was wonderful to get to know you and your work. And leavesandcobwebs, I'm glad to have finally met you! Also very happy my ideas resonated. Rock on and write on.


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