I'm home for a sliver of time this summer. A scant week and a half between trips. And during this break, J. and I have been sorting through stuff like mad people. Stupid, crappy stuff of which we own too much.
I have a desk that belonged to my grandmother. It's curvy and and cherry colored and not at all my taste. I've held on to it, though, because it was hers.
Recently, I decided I have enough other things to remember her by. Pictures and journals, and even a short story that is not so good, but is sweet because she wrote it.
I'm selling the desk.
So, I've been purging this particular piece of furniture that's traveled with me back and forth across the country. In it, I found reams of my writing: chunks of manuscripts and scraps of ideas printed out on a dot matrix. I couldn't help but stop and read, see what kind of mettle I had back when.
I was relieved to discover that as long ago as my twenties I wrote fiction pretty well. I'm not sure how to describe what that realization did for me. Even with a handful of short stories published in literary journals, I needed to peruse (and then promptly recycle) those old pieces. I needed to see that I've had it in me all along.
This summer I've hardly scrounged five minutes to write. I have one failed manuscript sitting on my laptop, waiting for me to get back to it or send it into the ether. I have a young adult manuscript that's been twiddling its thumbs since June. I'm 42. I'm ready to get this damn show on the road.
Yet, doubt swarms me like hungry mosquitoes heavy with malaria. Will I ever? Can I ever? Am I good enough?
I don't know. When I read what I wrote when I was 26, 27, 28, and saw that it was decent, I thought, Yeah. I will. I can. I am. It's what I was made for.
Maybe I'm kidding myself. But I hope not.
To celebrate, I'm writing you/me a short. It is fun. It's firing me up. I'll publish it here in a couple days.
Until then, enjoy a new favorite of mine, Mirah: