I came to Oklahoma City with two goals ahead of me. The first, to successfully complete the training I was sent here for by my employer. It consists of five days – seven hours a day – of sitting in front of a computer monitor being instructed in the art and science of maintaining and utilizing information in a fundraising prospect management software program. I say “the art of” even though there is absolutely no art about it. I hope thinking it might have some art to it will keep me enthused. It is most assuredly all about data and tables and fields and proper placement of information. Thank god they keep the room meat-locker cool so I don’t fall asleep, for even a moment of inattention would cause a huge gap in understanding.
But my second goal, the one I take on with just as much trepidation as the first – or perhaps more – is to write.
I have been longing to write; meaning to write; planning to write; writing about my desire and intention to write… it’s just about time I got my ass in gear and put words together and got it done. So, in preparation for my first evening spent alone in countless years, I began at Barnes & Noble.
Now, don’t be a hater all you purists who only shop at local booksellers – B&N is right down the street from my hotel and they had an AMAZING selection of magazines. I could become a magazine and literary journal addict. I truly could. Lest you accuse me of yet another contrivance put together to allow me to procrastinate and distract me and lead to a fruitless evening, let me interject that I was thinking about something one of my favorite professors told me: “Good writers read. A lot.” I can’t tell you which of my favorite professors said it, but I’m sure they have all said it at least once to someone. So, my supporting goal of the week is to read. A lot.
To that end, I purchased a couple of books (Riding the Bus with my Sister by Rachel Simon, and the Best American Short Stories of 2009 collection) and the latest copy of Writer’s Digest. The magazine, which I’ve never read before, was $5.99… more than I like to pay for a magazine. But I thought it would be a mistake to let the cost of a sandwich stand between me and my second most important goal for the week. Plus, the issue is focused on writing “small” (which I do), and includes an article on different kinds of essays. Since it is my deepest desire to write essays and get paid to do so, I took it as a sign and swiped my debit card.
And it was worth it.
Now, as I lay sprawled across my perfectly-firm-but-not-too-firm bed in my little suite, I am newly energized by the last line in the article about essays written by Dinty W. Moore: “But first, you must start writing.” It’s so perfect. So simple. So inescapably true. It is what I need to tell myself every single day. Not only does this man make a lovely mass-marketed stew, but he speaks the words of angels. At least, the angels I am interested in hanging around with.
No goal was ever attained by wishing it into existence. I know what I want to do, and I know I can do it. And now, I must.