Writing left handed

What My Doodles Might Be Telling Me

Once Upon a TimeGetting back to the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference and my remaining two discoveries (because I’m sure you’ve all been hanging on the edge of your seats, just dying to find out what sort of epiphany I’ve had this weekend).

Number 2: I don’t doodle during the workshops and lectures at the PWC. I take notes. I scribble notes, actually, because my brain is going a million miles a minute and I’m thinking I’ve got to contact this person, I’ve got to write a non-fiction book proposal, I will land a new column, and I need to completely overhaul my website.

My notebooks from all the dance research conferences I’ve attended tell a different tale. The margins are filled with doodles. Usually I draw little heads with their hair standing on end or mindless triangles that march across the entire page.

At the Society of Dance History Scholars Conference I attended at Florida State this year, I spent one particularly boring panel checking my email and stopped only at the end of each paper to give the requisite applause.

I love dance history, and history in general, but I never come away from those conference feeling enthused. Instead, I feel depressed: there are no jobs, and those who have the jobs seem to care more about obtaining tenure than actually connecting with their students. (I’m not talking about my professors here, but rather those I’ve encountered at these conferences who are young and already jaded and infectiously pessimistic about the state of dance scholarship; my professors have been nothing short of incredible but I feel very sorry for anyone who goes to school elsewhere).

This is not the case when I come away from the writer’s conferences I’ve attended. Sure, there are the jaded wannabees, who’ve landed agents only have their manuscripts sit for years and years without a landing a publisher; they’re not exactly lighting up the room with their enthusiasm. But for everyone one of the jaded old timers, there are half a dozen up-and-coming talents and another half a dozen already published writers who are friendly helpful and not at all scary like the majority of the dance scholars I’ve encountered.

I think that perhaps the contents of my conference notebooks are trying to tell me something.

Which brings us to my final discovery: I’m getting there. I was reluctant to register for this year’s conference because I’ve spent so much time blogging that I felt I had nothing to show for myself in terms of “real” writing (I still haven’t finished revising the manuscript I pitched at last year’s conference, I still haven’t published so much as an ounce of fiction, I’m still unable to support myself solely through my writing, blah blah blah).

But I am getting there.

According to one of the PWC powers-that-be, an agent I spoke to last year was asking about me during Friday’s night dinner. An agent was asking about me! As in she remembered my name, remembered my work and didn’t think mine was the worst manuscript to ever come across her desk. This is huge. This means I’m on the right track and that I just need to keep going.

PS: Don’t worry, the dating talk will resume first thing tomorrow; thank you for indulging my writing-ramblings over the weekend 🙂

7 Responses to “What My Doodles Might Be Telling Me”

  1. xclampa

    We are always eager to diminsh our achievments in view of the bigger picture. It’s only natural to be hard on yourself.

    🙂 Glad things are looking up for you.

  2. stevesw

    There are days when I chastise myself because my ‘this time I want to get published’ fiction novel has been waiting patiently within my laptop, which is sitting on the dinning room table, while I spend time writing items for my humor in dating blog. Then, I stop and consider that I like to write, enjoy writing, and I am writing! I do complete a piece of 1,000 word flash fiction once in a while, I do compose a piece of poetry, albeit rarely, and most of all, I have had fun writing strange pieces for the blog. Next summer I plan to attend a writer’s conference in Austin, and I will face the anxieties you have talked about. How will I deal with them? I intend to keep a folded piece of paper in my pocket that says “I paint with words for enjoyment…and I am having fun!”

    BTW, if you were not successful at writing, I, and all the others, would not enjoy reading After I Quit My Day Job.

  3. The prof

    Agree with Steves, 117068 hits means that your writing makes us want more. No loyalty, frienship, desire to support etc will bring busy people days after days back to your site, if it was not that we enjoy reading your prose! Get on with it and stop procrastinate!

  4. Rachel

    Have you considered crafting your blog & dating experiences into a book? You could make it fact or more fiction – your family would be great supporting characters!


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