Writing, Vulnerability and Submission

A while ago, I was a regular attendee of a writing group. That’s what it was in name, and don’t get me wrong, writing was certainly a theme of the group. However, by no means to I believe that everyone was coming to the group for the same reasons. Which is fine. Most groups are like this.

For example, some people came to talk about writing. These are the folks who never brought anything to read, or seldom did, but always wanted to talk about authors and techniques and the things that they read about writing in their research of the topic we’d never see them write much about. Some people rehashed the same story many times over. For some folks the group served as a reason, an incentive to get words on the page on a regular basis. For others, they wanted to exercise some expertise within a group that would accommodate that. There are others and that isn’t the point of what I’m thinking about here. 

While there were a variety of reasons people came to the group, there were a variety of particular hangups or stumbling blocks that different people seemed to have. Some could not actually handle criticism. Some people struggled to work on the craft of writing; others found themselves able only to fixate on the nuances of the semicolon but could struggled with developing an engaging story.

This sounds like I’m all against critique groups, or against the group I was a part of for a long period of time. That’s also not what I’m trying to say here. (I sure am taking the scenic route.) I participated in the group because I found it quite valuable for several years as I worked on and completed many projects.

My stumbling block is the submission process. There is just something about it that will make me stop cold in my tracks. Funny thing is that I haven’t even had a wholly negative experience with submitting work. In fact, I’ve even placed in some contests here and there which is pretty good considering that I rarely submit anything.

It just doesn’t make sense. I’ve written quite a bit. Like any writer, some of the work is better than the rest of it. I’ve revised some of it. I’ve had work peer-reviewed. Basically what I tend to do is pick out all of the work that surrounds the submission process and do that, then avoid making the actual submissions.

I found myself thinking of that recently. In working on the book proposal for Head of State Cakes, I asked a couple of author friends to look at the book proposal. Both of these ladies know me well and know that this is where I falter. They understood that much of what I was asking them to do was to help me be accountable to my project, to hold my hand as I traversed the terrain where I consistently trip or quit or tremble in fear.

A couple of nights ago, I decided to send it to them. 

That was difficult.

I was working on the thing and I saw myself heading directly toward my well tread patterns. I could feel the words forming in my mouth, the words of procrastination. I was ready to weave them a story about how I wanted to make sure that I made the proposal as close to perfect as I could so that I could be respectful of their time. That classy number would have bought me weeks.

Weeks of cheating myself.

However, I had chosen these ladies wisely. They totally would have called me out on my crap.

After sending the manuscript, I felt both happy with myself that I pushed past where I normally stop, and I felt a ball of anxiety grow within me as illogical thoughts flooded me. 

What if the idea isn’t a good one after all? What if that becomes clear when a proposal is read by someone who doesn’t share the burning passion for the presidents that engulfs me? What if it is so bad that they are too embarrassed to speak to me again? What if, what if, what if?

This wasn’t even the reasonable side of me. I believe in my project. I also believe in my friends, and if there is something that needs to be said, these ladies will do it, and I will know that they have told me something that I needed to know. 

This wasn’t about real fear about my project itself; this was about vulnerability. 

It is difficult to allow oneself to be vulnerable. Considering this, it made me think about the aforementioned assessments about why people attend the writers’ group I used to attend. Now, in the haze a vulnerable moment, I am seeing these other behaviors through that lens.  Some of us build a coat of armor consisting of non-tries. Others build a moat of quotes to protect us from possible rejection. After all if someone like Plato or Shakespeare agreed with you, you must be right, right? Perhaps, in this moment, seeing things this way has nudged me toward trying to understand more than diagnose. Perhaps this is the first gain from this submission.

The Five Star

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Dwight D. Eisenhower was the last army general to become President of the United States.

Like Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant before him, his military performance begat his political popularity.  His military history, after all, was a long one. He served in the army from 1915-1953. He didn’t see combat in the first World War. These days they say “haters gon’ hate,” and that was as true in Eisenhower’s day as it is now. When World War II came along, the haters liked to remind folks that Eisenhower hadn’t fought in the first World War. When they were saying this, they didn’t also point out that he had established a camp completely equipped for thousands of troops, and that he had developed a full combat training schedule.

Ahem.

Eisenhower served under a number of prominent generals including Fox Connor, John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and George Marshall. In 1935, Eisenhower worked with MacArthur in the Philippines. Differences in perspective resulted in an enduring antipathy between them. Between World War I and World War II, Eisenhower’s work was focused on planning the next war. From there his responsibility increased.

Whether or not you like Ike, his military perspective has likely touched your life if you live in the United States. He believed that large cities were likely to be targets in a Cold War-related attack. In such an event, evacuation and military maneuvers would be important. This led to the interstate highway system that we now know and use daily.

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The Cake:

The Five Star cupcake includes 5 different treatments of chocolate. The cupcake itself has a swirl of two chocolate cakes, one darker and one lighter. The cupcake is filled with chocolate ganache. The cupcake has a chocolate malt buttercream frosting and is garnished with a chocolate star. What better way to celebrate such a long stretch of public service?

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Fall things: oatmeal recipes

I know that it is technically still summer (I also know that it is President/Chief Justice Taft’s birthday), but it is feeling a whole lot like fall in the mornings lately.

While the stores that I frequent kick the school supplies to the curb to replace them with Halloween goodies, this time of year makes me think of oatmeal.

I love starting the morning with a filling bowl of warmth. It’s even better when there are warming spices involved. Here in Michigan where the cooler seasons reign for the majority of the year, a heat-loving gal like me has to fortify herself with things that make those breezy to biting bits of weather more manageable.

I remember eating oatmeal as a child. I remember slicing bananas onto a bowl of cinnamon or nutmeg-spiced oatmeal. The best bananas for this in my opinion are the ones that are in that phase after they are no longer green at all, but before they become freckled with brown spots. That, to me, is the classic bowl of oatmeal. These days, however, I like to branch out, have a little adventure with my porridge.

That’s when I turn to Pinterest. I’ve been collecting oatmeal recipes and I have to say that I’m looking forward to trying them.

Follow Sherlonya’s board Not so wild oats on Pinterest.

Birthday goals

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Can I just say that it is a lot easier setting goals (for me) at birthday time than it is at the more traditional New Year’s time? You see, this allows me to set my goals without hearing much about, and being swayed by, other people’s ambitions. I am also freed to go forth in my quest to improve things about myself or my condition without hearing from an entire contingent of people who don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. 

I love the romance of a fresh start.

I am seduced by notions of improving myself.

So, again, I am here to talk about my birthday goals. This year, I have structured them differently. Instead of spending the last several weeks coming up with a list of things that I want to do by the time I turn 36, I came up with a few things, and committed to adding 3 goals on a monthly basis. I’m happy with this new plan and look forward to embarking upon this path.

Wish me luck!

 

Birthday things.

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The first 35 years of my life are over.

Sheesh, I didn’t know that sentence would seem so grave. I don’t really mean it that way.

I like my birthday; I think it’s fun…even if my son thinks that 35 is middle-aged.

I was off today, so I spent some time putzing around on Pinterest looking for pumpkin recipes. I browsed at World Market, and decided to treat myself for my birthday. While I was in the mood for treats, I meandered my way over to a bookstore. Then I went home.

I went into Alex’s room because I wanted to use a stapler and I knew he had one in there. I was overcome by the state of the room. Next thing I know, a few hours have passed and I have an undisclosed amount of trash bags to take outside.

I followed up that sweaty adventure with a walk.

I think you should eat what you want on your birthday, so I made some tacos…the kind of tacos I grew up eating and it was awesome. I loved it. I loved today, and I look forward to making the most of the coming year. I’ve developed the goals that will help me do that (coming soon.)

Summer Bucket List 2014 – Update

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 You know, I didn’t get everything on this list done, but I did pretty well!

I took Alex to Niagara Falls. We had a great time, and it got us back into our regular road trip groove.

I ate a good amount of watermelon, peaches and tacos. Missed out on the nectarines though.

I picked strawberries. I also made freezer jam and stowed some away for when I need a reminder of summer months during the winter.

I made popsicles, but not so much of the other stuff.

I took a fair amount of walks, but not the lots I was hoping for.

I did enjoy the season, resisting the urge to complain too much about how mild it was.

I took Alex to Washington DC. It was the best! That guy is amazing to travel with. He even said, “That was actually pretty interesting,” about a few things he had thought would be boring.

I made Head of State Cakes for Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, though I’ve only blogged about Truman.

I know that I am extra crazy about setting goals and writing things down, but I know that I got more enjoyment out of the summer going at it with the intention of living through it on purpose rather than letting it wash over me.

I hope to pull on these positive experiences to create a nice transition into the new school year and the tasks that come with as I try my best to support the kiddo academically.

I declare this summer a success.

Getting into a little of a lot of things.