Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Be Thankful or Else."

I know it's hard to believe, but every now and then, I complain about my career.

Sometimes I whine that my writing voice is apparently only good for catchy ad copy and not heart-wrenching literature. Sometimes I complain that editors don't reply to my (brilliant) pitches. And sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get my big break, whatever that might be.

But this is a week about being thankful, so let me take a moment to reprimand myself for not being thankful constantly for my ever-interesting, ever-evolving career as a writer. A career that not many people get to have. A career that takes me to cozy bed-and-breakfasts where I get a free night's stay to learn more about a southern town. A career that introduces me to fascinating and talented people and pushes my limits. Sure, it's not 100% perfect and it's not always the exact thing I had in mind, but I make my living off of what I love doing most -- manipulating language.

Lately, the Great Universe is showing me that other opportunities are on the horizon. For example, I have a couple of articles coming out in regional magazines early next year, and an essay that I'm rather proud of is slated to appear on a website I admire. Plus, old and new contacts have been reaching out. My networking skills are being sharpened. And the crap that I don't need to deal with - the stuff that's wasting my time, dragging my spirits down and not helping me excel - is disappearing, whether I like it or not.

On November 1st, I flipped the page of our sales tally at the Mount Pleasant Magazine office - the sheet where we keep track of that month's advertising triumphs. I usually like to draw a little picture that represents the time of year: a tree for April, a pumpkin for October, that sort of thing. This time, I drew a turkey. And this cartoon turkey is saying "Be Thankful or Else!" which I considered funny at the time (it was a jab at to how hard it can be to make ends meet in an artistic field) but now, I'm realizing it's a useful lesson.

The more grateful, secure and happy I feel with my progress as a writer, the more good things I encounter to help me on the journey. So, starting this week, I'm going to just take a deep breath and realize that in the grand literary scheme of things, I'm still quite young. And I have a lot of stories left inside me.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

The original artwork. Hey, I'm a writer, not an illustrator. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Party of One!

Howdy, blog fans!

I just got back from a long weekend in the mountains of North Carolina. I'd been to Asheville once before with an ex-boyfriend, but this time I went by myself. I rented a car (I love the Saturn but she's getting to be an elder) and drove the handful of hours to stay alone in a stranger's house that I booked on Air BnB. It was exhilarating.

I got a lot of questioning surrounding this trip, regarding why I choose to go places by myself. Every trip I've been on in the last two years (the ones out of state) has been a solo trip. Nashville, Auburn, St. Petersburg, Little Switzerland, Asheville -- all of them consisted of me, myself and I. I met up with acquaintances or friends for meals on a couple of the ventures, and I made friends too, but each time it was just me hitting the open road (or boarding the airplane).

I've found I really like it that way. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment, and it helps with my panic and anxiety issues. After all, if I'm busy checking my GPS while driving around a new town in search of coffee and book stores, I don't have time to panic.

It isn't like I don't get scared, driving up the side of a mountain in the middle of the night or wandering around a new place with no best friends at my side. But my bravery pays off in the end, and I come home to Charleston feeling like I can do just about anything.

I guess there's some truth about getting outside of one's comfort zone.