Saturday, July 24, 2010
Hope in Iowa
Last November Carrie hosted a salon in her home for Hope Edelman. Later we talked about how cool it would be to take a class with her. One thing led to another to another to another and we decided to go to Iowa for the Iowa Summer Writing Festival to spend a week as Hope's students in memoir writing. We registered the very first day we could, had all the details ironed out by March, excited to have until July to anticipate with relish the adventure waiting for us.
We had to have pages sent to Hope by May 15. At the time we registered, shortly after the first of the year, I was confident I'd have at least a polished draft of the rewrite of my book completed by then. As the weeks went by, my confidence was replaced with many things, none of them hopeful. I couldn't find a frame for the rewrite, couldn't find my voice, couldn't figure out why I ever thought I should be a writer in the first place.
Doubt moved in with huge trunks and a ferrety little pet with a wicked bite, prepared for a very long stay.
In those weeks and months I considered the possibility that I took a wrong turn a year ago - perhaps my life's purpose was in a different arena altogether, even though I had absolutely no idea where that arena might be or what might be in it.
However, I had paid mostly unrefundable money for the July week, and Carrie was counting on me. So I decided I'd go, maybe I was meant to go, if only for the adventure. I love being with Carrie. I've never been to Iowa. I admire Hope both as a teacher and a writer. And even blockaded by doubt's baggage, the thought of spending a week with writers sounded like the most fun I might imagine.
The week of May 15 I wasn't even sure I'd have pages to send, or be able to write the cover letter explaining what my book is about. When Carrie reminded me I only actually had until the 13th because we had to send our work via snail mail, I had a few hours of that dark and sinking feeling so well remembered from school where an assignment is due and there is no human way to get it done on time.
In a sweet bit of miracle, a conversation with my brother, Mark, gave me just enough direction that I pulled stories that might become chapters, wrote the cover letter without consulting my brain or giving myself the chance to judge it, and got the packet in the mail on time.
And then put the book on the back burner. I wish I could say I put it out of my mind, and while that was my intention, my story had other ideas. So it's been incubating, stewing, growing in the shadows - waiting for this day.
At the moment this post appears, Carrie and I are on a jet headed for Iowa City (via Salt Lake City and Minneapolis - a long day, all the more time to enjoy everything). Our week starts officially Sunday night.
I'm excited. Confident this week will be full of adventure, joy, and miracles both large and small. Certain that whatever happens next is exactly what I'm going to need to travel the next leg of my journey. Eyes open. Heart wide. Smile ready.
Full of hope.
Photo from Flickr