Sunday, October 12, 2014

Person: odurate, visionary

Chapter 9 was halfway done before I had to stop and have a conversation with myself. About things like comparisons between characters making decisions that were true to them versus decisions that were better for the story, for the fluency of the reader or the authenticity of the setting. This right on the heels of coming back to the novel after the hiatus I took to get a short story cranked out for a contest. Ironically, I ended up sending something old, rather than something new, borrowing some advice from a friend along the way. Not that I think the hiatus is to blame for my falling off track of what I wanted to accomplish and in what timing. There's enough to go around for everyone.

I asked a friend recently about things he felt he was good at, and that might do the world some good, and how many of those things he had on his bucket list to do. Like most people who ask those kinds of questions, I was hoping to find some of my fear of mutual exclusion in him. Instead, having just been officially licensed as a lawyer in the state of Oregon, he referenced that. You don't have to imagine how that made me feel, because I'll tell you: less than good. Sometimes, my introspective nature gets in the way of more social plans that I might have. This thing I asked my friend about, a decision I might make, a path I could strike down, is one of those things. It involves helping people, moreover in a capacity that I've already been working for some years. I feel like I'd be more willing to jump at it if it didn't involve such constant interaction, scrutiny, responsibility, and expectations.

I got some advice from a mentor that made me feel bad about the entire process of hacking it in academia, and the advice was supported by a confidant who is in academia, making her own way. I really don't like it, and I feel like I might just be miserable if I do the things "people do" to get ahead in that field. I was advised to take a step back, breathe, observe my other options. Misinterpreting that, I immediately signed up for an opportunity to present myself as an editor at a conference being arranged by a contact I never thought I'd hear from again (and... wasn't taking any steps to change that). It occurs to me through all of this that the first quality of a destined hero is good listening skills. Not strength, not courage, not speed, not luck. Well, maybe luck, but primarily the ability to understand what people are saying when they give you advice.

Bringing it full circle, the problem with the chapter was perspective. Specifically point of view. I had the wrong character telling the particular part of the story, and that forced things uncomfortably. Whereas if the camera were handed off to someone else, it all worked a lot more smoothly. So, I'll be fixing that. Then I'll be moving on to chapter 10, and then I'll be taking an extended break. I think regardless of what happens, I will still apply, wish for my yes's and weather my no's. It may or may not be going through the motions, but the weird thing about all this is, despite what the fairy tales say, no one wakes up one day in the position they want to be in. In certain ways, we're all preparing. Thus, I must prepare. So I will write something less terrifyingly new, but still no less me, to present to these persons on admissions boards.

And hopefully this time next year I'll be looking back, rather than looking forward.