~ H.P. Lovecraft
Seton Hill's motto is "Hazard yet Forward" which should be a stand alone warning in its own right, but goes deeper when considering the full impact of the phrase. It is etched over a SHU archway in ye olde English in this photo below.
Today was filled with critiquing fellow writers (which I find harder on me than being critiqued myself), and listening to Tim Esaias's lecture on "Conflict, Plot and Scene Building." Afterwards I attended two thesis presentations/readings from David Day (Horror) and Stephanie Harbulak-Barron (YA Horror), and as I listened to their prose I found myself wondering if I'll be able to pull my novel together as well as they did theirs. I was particularly fascinated with David's presentation, which consisted of a story about a man's transformation into the Antichrist. His descriptions were elegantly crafted in the mode of gruesome horror which makes one's blood run cold and sends chills down the spine. The piece was well done and something I aspire to in terms of the way he was able to put tension, action, dialogue and scene setting together so well.
The part of the day I dreaded most was the "Wine Social" in which we all got together, had a little wine and cheese and milled about socializing while perusing novels that faculty and alumnae have written. If you haven't already guessed, I'm not a huge people person. I can handle one or two at a time, but large crowds make me nervous. If I could turn myself into a fly on the wall, and hang out unnoticed, as the invisible observer I wouldn't mind a bit. Being present in the room however implies mingling, conversing and rubbing elbows as our student body is so frequently encouraged to do at this residency. While I understand the need for it, in order to build community and make new friends in the writing world, I find it difficult. I don't know why. I don't fear rejection, it's just not my scene, and I'd rather hang with 2 or 3 people in a quiet place, philosophizing about literature, art, music...and so on. Still, I went to the social, and grazed my elbows against others, drank wine (ate too much cheese, so I'll be constipated for sure tomorrow) and tried my best to put on the butterfly vibe. It didn't work out well. I talked to a few people. Got my "Many Genres One Craft" text signed by a couple professors I hugely admire, and then made a mad dash out the door to escape to my fiction book (I'm reading Tim Waggoner's Nekropolis) and smoke my favorite cigar. (Photo of me, and fellow SHU student/alumnae Darin Cook at the social, proving I was there...)
Now I need to finish up that LAST critique before I sleep, and I'm so tired. I think of all the readings I'll need to do in the next few months and then the reports on those readings. My mind drifts over the chapters of Dr Stench I'll be sending to my Mentor and critique partners, and the pieces I'll be receiving from my partners to critique and the work will be over daunting in the face of full time work, and family. I take solace in the fact that it will at least be FUN. :)
Doubts still hide near me like little toothy predators waiting for a crack to open in the calm of my ceramic soul. I'm sure they would be glad to devour any shred of confidence I have hiding within me, and so I make myself repeat the mantra: I am a Writer. I am a Writer. I am a Writer. I will Succeed. I desperately hope the words will have some type of force-field, holy water, silver bullet protection factor woven inside the words.
I hope I succeed. I'm resolved to try. I promise not to fear (much), nor to kick myself too hard if I fail. (I''ll let Joe do that for me.) After all, the pain is only temporary, and the broken bones of a manuscript can be healed if I take time to do it. And as Tim Esaias said today, he's given me all of the tools to do just that. So I am resolved to take faith in that writer's talisman, roll up my sleeves and get to work!