Sunday, June 22, 2014

Viable Paradise XVIII

So. This happened on Friday:


If you're unfamiliar with Viable Paradise, it's a week-long writing workshop that takes place in the Fall on Martha's Vineyard. N.K. Jemison is a former grad. N.K. Jemison!!! Ahem. Anyways. Needless to say, I'm over the moon.

But that's not the thing I really wanted to talk about. What I wanted to talk about was how, over the course of that day, I went from feeling like I was a fraud, that my writing was utter garbage, that my goals were completely unrealistic and silly, to feeling like maybe I'm actually doing okay.

The morning started at 5:30am, which is when I bike from my house to job #1 and bake my little heart out at Cafe Pyrus. It was just as I was leaving Pyrus to bike to job #2 (Words Worth Books) that I got an email saying that the writing contest I'd submitted to months ago had chosen it's winner and nine finalists... of which I was not one.

It's funny, but after getting so much rejection throughout the years, I've learned how to shrug and keep going. But this year has been a particularly hard one, filled with loss of loved ones and hard work that hasn't amounted to anything and also: I'd been up since 5:30. So I was ill-prepared for the soul-crushing feelings of failure. My day was ruined and it had barely even started. I still had to bike across town and work a whole shift at the bookstore.

I was miserable, on the verge of tears all day, and the only thing that got me through was the fact that I had a campfire with friends to look forward to at the end of it. It was there, at the week's end with my friend Ruthi taking orders for how everyone wanted their marshmallows (golden or burnt) and Joe playing the guitar and this pretty lady wanting to play that I put aside my feelings of inadequacy.

Which is when I got another email: the one at the beginning of this post. And suddenly, the world opened up and I could breathe again.

The creative life is strange like that.