So many things, too many things, all the things. I've been working on dousing the inferno of busyness for a while now. Meanwhile, I continue to do all the things. It turns out Seneca had some sharp things to say about busyness, even back in the day. Which makes me feel a little better about myself, but also a little worse. Like this thing Seneca said, for example:
Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
Maybe Seneca would be proud of me for jumping into this MFA program for my novel, given how old I already am and how the novel isn't writing itself. Or maybe Seneca would say it's a very expensive crutch. Whatever, Seneca. I'm proud of me.
I'm also happy to have begun, slowly but surely, to submit my essays to various journals and magazines. Yes, a scattershot of random, unsolicited submitting. It was nice when I had regular writing gigs at remarkable publications like The Rake. But it also gave me enough creative outlet to let go of submitting more widely, especially with all the commercial writing and editing I do, and then even more especially when I started the novel, which I've come to think of fondly as the monster, much like Cheryl Strayed's backpack (I added "fondly" in order not to make the monster I mean novel angry, and has anyone noticed that novel writing makes people loopy?). So, anyway, to be submitting my creative writing again feels tingly and new, like a limb waking back up. Because that's how I gained my footing as a writer twenty years ago: unsolicited submissions. In honor of beginner's mind, I'm also considering applying for The Loft Mentor Series this round. Care to join me? Deadline is April 27.
I'm lucky not to be afraid of rejection. I hope you can try not to be, either. It's a goal I work on with all of my writing students (I have room for two more if you need a teacher/coach). Rejection is grand! It means you're submitting your work (go ahead and make sure it's your finest work, the pages you've sweat and cried over and rewritten ten thousand times). Rejection means you're entering contests, applying for grants, etc.; you are leaping and diving all over the place. You are very pleasing to Seneca, if that happens to matter to you. Rejection is alive, it's pulsing, it's teeming with energy, like pregnancy, even if it is a little nauseating. Because the truest thing about rejection is this: it only happens if you're sending out your work, and sending out your work is a great big yes to the world. Yes is bigger than no, yes envelopes no, yes depends on no, then swallows it. Take it from e.e. cummings:
yes is a world
& in this world of
– e.e. cummings
Speaking of writing and submitting, the Solstice Retreat has a few spots open. I've held off on advertising this year because it's close to full and Elephant Rock has two big publicity pushes coming up. The first is an exciting off-site event during the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Minneapolis, on April 10. I'll be reading my work accompanied by my amazing friend Susan Sophocleus on violin, and there will be more readings and music by Ben Weaver and others, including the winners of Elephant Rock's flash fiction/essay contest (submission details coming in the next week or so). You should enter! Stout's Island Lodge is donating two nights on the island as part of the prize, and that's not even all. So watch for more information about the contest and the event, too, which will be free thanks to some amazing collaborators, including Banjo Brothers. The second publicity thing was the big surprise of learning that AAA Living Magazine will be featuring Solstice Retreat in an article about outdoor yoga in its April/May issue. So, if you are eyeing the Solstice Retreat, you should register soon.
Meanwhile, in the days ahead, as I continue writing and envisioning a world of yes, I'll be thinking more about agates, which, as you know, I love. What you may not know (I didn't), is that agates are great for artists because they apparently stimulate the intellect. I read this just today. Who am I to turn that down? Even better, the agate is a very protective stone, said to be particularly helpful for children, stopping them from falling down. How absolutely dear! This, of course, said the thing I read, makes agates excellent for children's amulets, medicine bags, jewelry, or just to carry around in a pocket.
Just to carry around in a pocket.
It doesn't get any simpler, and you're never too old.
~Upcoming Retreats and Classes~
Summer Solstice Writing & Yoga Retreat at Stout's Island