Wide Open Doors

Well, I wasn’t going to say anything, I was just going to let you all be surprised. But my husband posted some vague status update about me coming for the great Stephen King so maybe I should just spill the little bag of beans. 

Yesterday I accepted a post as a community columnist for our local newspaper. I’m very excited! 

Many of you may not know that I do write. I’ve a few novels simmering, several short stories, and of course, my blog. Over the last several months I’ve had some rejection letters regarding one short story I thought particularly fine, and that’s hard. It’s hard to make something, something woven with your own hair, sprinkled with the flecks in your eyes and a dash of your own freckles, made of your emotions and vulnerabilities; and then to give it to someone, shyly, and have them say they don’t want it. So here I am, with someone holding those pieces of myself who says, we love this! We’d like you to come write for us. It’s vindicating. Apparently I am not a narcissist quite yet. 

The two main questions are: how much does it pay? and, what will you write about? 

Well, as to the first, it’s like street cred. There is no money, but it’s invaluable to me in the doors that can be opened by having a large readership and by being able to honestly say when I submit yet another story, YES, I am published, see? Right here! Who knows where it could go? It could go just right here, I could write a community column until they kick me out because I don’t make sense anymore, OR, here’s the big OR, it could open doors for me to do what I truly desire. Which is to write, and to be paid for it. 

The second question I have no answer for. I don’t know. I don’t work that way and never have. I can’t do long diagrams and charts and spreadsheets and outlines. I’ve always sucked at that form of writing. The venerable Stephen King writes in his memoir, On Writing, about the rejection letters he received. He also writes that when he’s working on a story a lot of it is internal. He pictures these moving men moving in boxes and shrouded furniture, all pieces of the story that will be eventually unpacked, uncovered. I’ve always thought of a certain house, a certain basement when I pictured that. Out on Warner Street, the brown painted stairs and the gray painted floor, the abrupt transition from cement to carpet, how the basement opened out to the backyard. I see those men moving up and down those stairs, coming in and out of that door into the backyard with the larger items. I see them sitting these boxes and furnishings down in the dusky light of that basement and it makes me hopeful. 

So don’t ask me anymore what I will write about. The ideas, memories, emotions, knowledge, and inspiration are constantly coming and going. I have no doubt that I will yank the dust sheet off one of those shrouded shapes and the light bulb will come on; voila! I’ll have my first column. 

So that’s all for now, a short update from the front that is working and motherhood and wifehood and sisterhood and renterhood and daughterhood and friendhood. All quiet, for now, save the thumps of boots on wooden stairs, the soft whoosh of the basement door opening and closing, and the crackle of life in shrouded shapes and sealed boxes. 

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