"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

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


Jan said...

"Eyes open. Heart wide. Smile ready.
Full of hope."

That's all you need, isn't it?

Wishing your itinerary was a bit different...


Wanda said...

Oh, what fun! Can't wait to hear the rest of the story....

colbymarshall said...

"Doubt moved in with huge trunks..."

Boy, I know this feeling! Glad you're feeling better! Go, gal!

Terri Tiffany said...

Enjoy your time! I can't wait to hear how it goes!

Janna Qualman said...

You're going to do great! I know it.

And Iowa? You're just over the state line from me!

Loren said...

How I have enjoyed getting to know you and your brother! You both have such a beautiful gift in your writing....

I pray the Lord shows you more and more of your gift and you enjoy your week in Iowa!

p.s. you have to eat some of their corn on the cob! IT IS TO DIE FOR!! :)

Jerri said...

Traveling mercies.

Blessings for your journeys--both inner and outer.


Carrie Link said...

FULL of Hope!




From your PTC!

Linda said...

May you have a wonderful writing time in Iowa! And thank you for visiting my blog!

#1Nana said...

Lucky you! What a wonderful gift to spend a week and focus on a passion. I wish you all the best. I look forward to reading all about your adventures and insights.

She Writes said...

Full of anticipation for your hope fulfilled ;).

patti said...

You are amazing, girl!
Savor every moment.
And know that you are BRINGING the conference JOY!!

M said...

I'm excited to hear about the workshop...and the instructor's review of your writing. It's wonderful how hope emerges when we seem to need it the most.

By the way...I hope you're not getting caught up in any of the flooding or heavy rainfall that Iowa is experiencing.


Joy said...

I can't wait to hear about your writer's conference, Deb. They offer, among the workshops/seminars and keynote addresses, a real sense of connection to other writers, don't they? Hope you have a wonderful time!

Amber said...

IT will be great. YOU will be great. Your WORK will be blessed.

Be safe and sound, and tell us all about it!

oxoxox :)

patti said...

Am highlighting Cynthia Ruchti, ACFW president, today and would love you wave hello.


kario said...

Love you.
Love your writing.
Can't wait to hear what Hope had to say.

Kathryn Grace said...

"Eyes open. Heart wide. Smile ready. Full of hope."

I'm late reading this. Your week is nearly over. Are your eyes still open? Heart bursting? Face hurting from smiling so much? May you have found exactly what you need to further your work. Your story is important. We need to hear it.

Alicia D said...

came over from carrie's blog... im so envious (in a happy way) of you guys getting to do this. I can only imagine how great it will be. amazing,amazing writing by the way...