Thursday, May 10, 2007

May 10 journal entry

May 10, 2007

I realize that many conference goers will not be making entries into the journal until the actual sign-in, but for me, the conference experience began when I dropped my check in the mail. Almost immediately I began second-guessing myself, wondering if I was in over my head, if I was good enough to be a part of this group. My doubts and misgivings intensified when I received my registration packet, and a form letter from instructor Rob Wilder. Rob has given his class reading homework so that we have a common framework to discuss (a great idea), but he also wants each of us to send him an essay that we want to work on with the group. Up to 20 pages. I want to state for the record that I have yet to exceed 1000 words on any essay I have written. We are talking two pages at the most. To say that I was feeling anxious would be an understatement.

I am not a great believer in mystical things, but I do think that most everything we need in our lives is within our reach if we just open our eyes and put forth our hands. Within a day or two of receiving my packet, I read an editorial by C. Hope Clark in one of her online newsletters. She discussed her own feelings of inadequacy, and her fears that she would not measure up when faced with her peers. She reminded herself and her readers that we are works-in-progress, that we can only be who we are. But we each have a unique perspective, a story that no one else can tell. She resolved to get out there and do her best, learn all she could and share all she had.

My second reinforcement came from reading my homework. :-) In his introduction to The Best American Essays 2004, Louis Menand addresses the anxiety a writer faces of losing her “voice”. It helped me to realize that I am not alone, and heaven help me, misery does love company.

Since I am in such good company, I will borrow some of Hope’s resolve, and do my best, for myself and my classmates.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I had to get it out of my system. Remember, turnabout is fair play.


  1. I agree - the experience goes beyond the conference itself. That's really why we started this blog, to allow people to connect and communicate before the workshops begin, and long after their time in Taos.

  2. Greetings! I am looking forward to reading your essay! Your classmate, Brenda.

  3. T.A.,

    I write poetry (and am attending Amy Beeder's weekend workshop) and dream about essay- sometimes short is all that is needed. Think Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

    About essay and anxiety. Sometimes it helps to restate what we all know deep down:

    1. You are attending. That speaks volumes about your skills and motivation;

    2. You are absolutely correct about our individual, unique perspective. Use it!!

    3. To get to 20 pages one must first write one, then two...

    Michael Smith

  4. when I signed up for the first time in 2005 I was in the same position. Manuscript? what manuscript? I didn't know I was working on one and the 20 pages seemed insurmountable.
    I looked through all the short short essays I had written up to that point and saw there was a theme, which inspired me to put it all together.

    Look at what YOU ALREADY HAVE. You may be surprised. You probably have more than you think you do. And if not, do the best you can and don't beat yourself up over it!

    Good luck.

  5. Yes, we all have to realize that no one "arrives." Everyone is a work in progress until the day we leave this world. All we can do is share what we've learn to aid each other's journey. Thanks for commenting on my editorial in FundsforWriters. All readers are welcome to come join the FFW work-in-progress.

    Hope Clark