Thursday, July 25, 2013

Because It's There

Recently, I told my sister I was growing out my bangs. Her response: "And then what?" which is sister-code for "WHY??"

The answer: my new hairstylist is persuasive. She thinks I could have curly hair if only I treated it correctly, which leads me to like her even as I recognize she might be daft (or trying to sell products for curly hair). And, as she expertly cut my hair, she suggested growing out my bangs.

Another answer: because it's there. It's a goal. It's something I'm moving toward, at a time when I need a hair goal (can't believe I just admitted that I need hair goals). About two years ago I decided to let my natural color take over my head, in solidarity with my brother, who was losing his hair from chemotherapy. (At a hotel recently, the woman behind the registration desk described my hair as "brown and blonde," to which my sister replied, "If 'blonde' is what we're calling 'gray' these days." She's funny.) My regular stylist went on maternity leave and I had other things to think about, and my brother's hair came in again and he's doing very well. Meanwhile, here I was, sort of dithering about my hair.

So sure, I seized "growing out bangs" as a goal. Why not?

Back to writing: A couple of years ago, I set as a goal to create enough short stories for a collection. That means I had to write a lot, way more than I thought I needed, because even my big ego admits that not everything I produce is something I am ready or willing to publish. I got an OAC grant, completed significant work -- everything I had hoped for and more -- and then life got in the way. But the collection remained a goal. Something to work toward.

I got more grants this year to help me finish. I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. On the down side, I hadn't yet completed a coherent collection and I felt like a fraud even applying for the grants. On the up side, I'm a better writer than I was even two years ago, and I have more skill to bring to the revisions. Which I have been doing, rather doggedly.

I'm now completing the submission materials to send to the first publisher on my list. Am I nervous? Yep. But I've produced a lot of words -- even more words than I had thought, far more than are going into this submission. I'm ready to take this step. Even if my response from publishers is a yawn, I still consider this submission (and any subsequent ones I take on) a win.

Someday, I'll need a new goal. Not yet -- more revisions, more submissions, and final reports come first. But I can see a time when a new goal is in my future. And that feels pretty good.