Friday, February 9, 2007

Discovering My Writing Passion

Tomorrow I'm registered for an all-day writing workshop. The topic is Constructing Character: The Engaging Protagonist. I can't wait. I will enjoy every minute of the six hour class. The time will fly by and when it's over, I will feel a bit deflated. Like the end of vacation or a day at the amusement park. Because I have found the thing I love to do. My passion. The one thing.

And it's about time. Here I was, in my forties, everybody else running around doing their thing, having fun with their knitting, or their pottery, their painting, sculpting, dancing, crosswords, acting, music. What did I do after work? Oh, I'd engage in exciting activities like reading the paper. Or tidying up the house. Then there was the ultimate thrill: laundry. Often, I'd perform these mundane pastimes while listening to my husband play the drums. I envied him his passion; his creative outlet. I wondered how he could look for, listen to, download and play music for hours on end. "What is my passion?" I would say (ok, I would whine a little). I thought about it a lot, wondered what it was, where it could be, and when it would make itself known to me. "Oh passion, where are you?" How would I discover it? Would it discover me?

I had interests. I thought perhaps one of them might be a passion in disguise. Was it cooking? I love to cook, but I'm not obsessed with it. Was I meant to be baking? At one time, I imagined myself some kind of pastry chef in training. Bought The Cake Bible. Measured out ingredients by weight for the utmost accuracy. But who was going to eat all those genaches and all that buttercream?

I love animals, but don't want to make a career or avocation out of it. Not now. Maybe later. What else . . . gardening! That might be it! I buy plants and I put them in the ground. I have a good eye and I manage to keep them alive. They look pretty in my yard. I am interested in gardening. But only when it's nice outside. I can't do it in the dark and I don't enjoy it when it's raining. That leaves about twelve weeks a year for plant stuff. And I hate weeding (who doesn't?). No--my passion is not gardening. Or is it gardening is not my passion? Whatever.

I took some Irish Step Dancing lessons last summer. Loved it! Great exercise and lots of fun. Then I stopped. Then I gained some weight and thought I'd better take that off before beginning again. Maybe this summer. Maybe next. Obviously, not my passion.

I play the piano. Took eight years of lessons as a kid. There is a beautiful baby grand piano in my living room. I rarely touch it. I love playing. But I'm not that great and it takes time to be great. I don't love it enough to practice for hours.

This? This is easy. I love writing. I've always been good at it. Non-fiction. Research papers. Some ad copy a few years back. It all came easily to me. Friends and family told me I was a good writer. But fiction? That was unknown territory. I decided to try to write a story, starting with just a blank screen. I had a thought. That was all. I wrote a few paragraphs, thought it was ok, then left it. For months. Then years.

I did not have time to write any more of my story for over two years. Then I saw the description for a series of writing classes at our community college. The name of the instructor caught my eye: I wanted to meet her. She is an editor for a publisher, that a friend and I had in mind for a book project we had started. The instructor would be a great contact, I thought.

I attended the class and for the first time was referred to as writer. She referred to us as writers! It sounded sweet and made me smile. Like a kid. We started some writing exercises and I was surprised at what came out of the end of my pen. It was effortless and fun! I made up characters and put them in situations and words came out of their mouths and they came alive on the page. I was hooked.

Since then, I've taken many more classes and workshops, and I have several scheduled for the first half of the year. Next month, I'm attending a three-day writing conference where Clyde Ford, Karen Joy Fowler, and Jane Hamilton will be in attendance! I am very excited.

My passion is writing. I am a writer. I started this blog just to ensure I will keep writing every chance I get. My book is up to 8500 words, and I have so much more to go. I'm just getting started. And I can't wait until I have more time to practice my craft. I will be very content.

So did I find my passion or did it find me? I definitely found it. I stretched a bit and registered for classes I didn't really have time for, but which I wanted for myself. And that's the key. My passion was there, out there, or inside me, I don't know which. I just had to give it the time it deserved. Once I finally did something just for myself, it came easily.

If only I had more practice at that. What else is waiting for me?

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