It is only alone, truly alone, that one bursts apart, springs forth.
~ Maria Isabel Barreno
So much of what I do is solitary. Whether I’m playing the piano, making jewelry, or working on my novel, it’s just me, myself and the work.
Heck, since my divorce twelve years ago, I haven’t even been able to make a go of a relationship. But that’s a different subject for another day.
As a piano teacher, I do what I can to make studying music less lonely. I play duets with my students; I organize in-studio workshops with other children; I provide incentives to earn scholarships, trophies and awards; I host an annual spring recital. As a musician, I am privileged to be a member of a professional piano ensemble. I believe it is important to play well with others.
As a writer, however, it is easy to get lost. I joined Georgia Romance Writers on my 50th birthday; I will turn 54 on Thursday. Yes, I have been an active member of the group and have enjoyed the camaraderie of the writer friends I have made there. But the daily grind of putting words on the page is a solitary pursuit – and one that often feels completely pointless. Despite my best efforts, I have yet to acquire an agent; all my requests for partial or complete manuscripts have resulted in utter rejection. Sometimes I wonder whether that time wouldn’t be better spent cleaning the house. Or baking cookies.
Or reading something wonderful.
Last week, though, the first thirty-five pages of my young adult manuscript finalled in a prestigious regional competition. I am still trying to wrap my head around that. I am thrilled; I am terrified. Now that I have the affirmation I have been seeking, I know I need to up my game. All that time I have spent not writing? Cleaning the house? Or baking cookies? Or reading something wonderful?
I need to spend it writing.
My dream is to be a traditionally published novelist; I want this as much as I have ever wanted anything. There are no short cuts; hard work – and a little bit of luck – are essential to the process. There have been days I have been tempted to throw in the towel. But I can’t quit now.
Writing a compelling work of novel-length fiction is the most difficult thing I have ever attempted to do. More than 80% of people claim to want to write a book, but fewer than 1% actually do.
I am a part of that tiny 1%. And if fate is kind, and luck is with me, perhaps I will join that even smaller percentage of authors who are published in novel-length fiction.
I. Truly. Believe.