Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Birthday Present

HP Deskjet F4235

Yep, it was the knell of doom for that most stalwart of my defenses against having to take the next step in my apprenticeship as a writer--submitting to editors, agents and contests. I've been without a printer since August of 2001 and I confess it had been something of a comfort zone for me.

I've written here a number of times since the birth of Joystory November 2nd 2004 about my extreme aversion to self-promotion stemming from a melding of the temperament I was born with--profound shyness--with the emphasis the religion I was raised in had on self-abnegation along with the rigid boundaries on the roles of females that denied them any AUTHORity out from under the umbrella of their father's or husband's authority.

Even today more than sixteen years after daring to take back full and unfettered responsibility for my own mind and conscience, I still struggle daily with every occasion that requires me to 'put myself out there'--from initiating a conversation at the dinner table to insisting on having my own way at those times when that involves a matter of personal integrity.

So you can imagine what that implies about putting my writing 'out there'. The putting up of my first web page in 1998 was a conscious attempt to push out the edges of my comfort zone. I confess it has been a wobbly walk along this path. And many times I felt as much relief as frustration when one key tool or another--computer, Internet access, printer, personal library, public library service--were lost for a time. These occasions provided comfort by releasing me temporarily from the reckoning I must eventually confront if I want to be more, as a writer, than a dabbler, a hobbyist.

Sure, one might imagine a scenario in which I write quietly for myself for whatever time I've got left in this life with recognition coming only after I'm no longer on the mortal scene. Something like what happened to Emily Dickinson say*. But even that is unlikely if the bulk of my work exists only on hard drives, floppy disks, flash drives and random servers.

I noticed a shift in my psyche about eighteen months ago. The prospect of submitting manuscripts in the traditional fashion had become less anxiety provoking, less likely to trigger the spasms of shame associated with nearly all forms of 'calling attention to myself.' I began pressing for a printer and Ed, who is the tech savvy one of us, began watching for one in our price range.

Now I have it. Now the ball is in my court. My intent is to put something in the mail within six months--a poem, a short-story or an essay. I know better than to expect myself to have a novel manuscript prepared by the end of May but there is no excuse for
waiting any longer to send some of my shorter pieces out there. I am publishing this intent so as to be held accountable; so as to raise the specter of a shame as powerful as that triggered by 'showing off'--the shame of failing to keep my word.

*Not, mind you, that I'm in any way comparing my own self or talents with Emily's.

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