Thursday, June 30, 2011

Walking the line

Not that I wasn't happy to see the email in my inbox, informing me I'd been accepted to UW's certificate of nonfiction writing program - I was. I just wished it wouldn't have come a day after I sent in my application. It's a continuing education program, not some competitive graduate or doctorate program, but still. A week or two would have been nice. Just to give me the impression that some deliberation had occurred, to afford me the luxury of a little sense of accomplishment.

Or maybe the prompt response is precisely what I need. To know I'm not accepted based on some impressive credentials or writing sample that moved in them deeply, but simply as a reminder that this passion and any skills I possess for writing are gifts I unwrap each day, not things I can claim as my own creations.

When I first came across this program, over six months ago, I was eager to apply. I could have applied quickly and squeaked in back in January, but somehow the timing didn't feel right. So I waited and waited, until an email arrived at the end of May, informing me the program was now accepting applications for the 9- month session beginning in October. Since January, I've stepped up my writing to about five days a week, wanting to develop more of a writing practice. I'm not working on a book or any huge project, just my blog. And this felt like enough. For now.

But I knew I could hang out in this place comfortably - too comfortably - for a long time. I know myself. I know I need to be challenged, pushed, stretched. I know I love the classroom setting and I thrive on assignments, input, creative collaboration. If I was going to go anywhere beyond this blog with my writing, I'd need to look for some outside instruction to guide me in the process. And it's an overwhelmingly large process, the road to producing publishable work, full of possibilities. That's precisely the point I tend to get frozen, staring slack-jawed at the big picture, inadequate and obscure little me, swallowed up by all the details, all the options. So I applied.

Still, program or no program, I walk this delicate line of proactively pursuing the fullest development of my craft and being uninvested in a particular outcome of that pursuit. A mantra emerging for me in this journey is "success does not equal publication," ironic as that may sound coming from a writer just accepted into a program that seeks to prepare writers for publication. It makes perfect sense to me, though. The value of my writing lies in its impact, not its final destination. Publication can certainly spread that impact (and ideally bring in some profit), but I hope to steer clear of the tunnel vision that can hijack the writer who believes publication is the truest measure of success.

1 comment:

  1. So Bertiful ! You write well enough to be read by all. I look forward to your next gems of wisdom... PZ