I've caught too many sunsets. I realize that's a good thing, when focusing the lens at Life. But when I'm adjusting the camera's dial, zooming in on Dream, too many sunsets have been snapped without my Dream being warmed enough by that passed day's sun.
Two things have happened in the last few days that have brightened the otherwise shadowed visage of my Dream. First, my cousin JJ took a leap no-one, to my mind, has recently taken in my family. He packed up all his belongings and followed the arc of his Dream before he could witness any additional sunsets. He's off chasing that daylight in the biggest and brightest place his Dream glows. His decision burns as a beckon of inspiration for me.
The second thing that has brightened the darkness holding my Dream was ushered to me via a Hand of Fate. An email found its way into my in-box last week heralding a writer's conference in that same Mecca for Dreams my cousin finds himself in, New York City. That Herald provided a Call that might be the next step in my journey. What caught my eye about the 2012 Writer's Digest Conference was not only the list of speakers and sessions, but the opportunity to sit one-on-one with several agents during something called the "Pitch Slam". Here, writers get to discuss their stories and receive feedback from industry insiders. It's an opportunity to get some legitimate, valuable feedback from people who know the publishing business.
The likelihood that my Dream is realized at this very conference is remote, at best. That's not my goal in deciding to pay the $525 for the conference. My goal is to learn. Learn the proverbial ins-and-outs of the publishing business. Learn what agents and publishers have to say about my stories. (More on the plural "stories" later.) Learn what my Query Letter needs to say. Learn how my Synopses (synopsi?) need to read. Learn what genre I should label my stories under.
I have too many questions. And combing the tangled mane of the internet will only do me so much good. I need to take the opportunities presented to me before my Dream catches too many more sunsets. I've had the seed of a poem growing in my mind these days. It's based around a metaphor where Life is a Bull and I'm the Bull-fighter, my Dream, the red cape. The more I unfurl the cape, the more the Bull charges and tries to gore. It's a bit excessive, I know, but that's how it feels sometimes. Life just gets in way. I don't know that I'll actually flesh out this poem, as I find it hard to connect my Life to such a violent vessel. We'll see.
So what's the plan?
Well, I'm blessed to have a wife that is so incredibly supportive. She's practically pushing me out the door. But swiping upwards of $700 from our savings account is irresponsible, considering we've been living in my parents' house for the better part of a year to save money to buy our own home. While it would have been nice to hit on one of those parlay bets I laid down in Vegas few weekends ago, I'll seek out students to tutor rather than rely on my gamblin' skillz.
But money isn't something that has me overly concerned. It's my material. As I've discussed here before, I have a complete novel manuscript. At the moment, I have several trusted friends reading and painstakingly providing the much needed red marks of an editor's pen. I have already been given good ideas to tighten the narrative and streamline the story. So, before I embark on the next stage of my journey, before I allow any more sunsets to be captured, I need to polish the manuscript to a shiney new 3rd draft. Beyond editing the current novel into another incarnation, I need to write a query letter and a synopsis for the story as well. Thing is, I don't want to head into this great opportunity without making sure I can squeeze every little ounce of useful publishing juice out of it.
While the completion of the 2nd draft of my current novel took more than ten years, I've decided to head to this writer's conference with at least one other complete novel manuscript. I've decided to participate in a "contest" called NaNoWriMo, or, National Novel Writing Month.
Crazy? Probably. Again, considering it took me more than 10 years to craft my first novel, I might be nuts to think I can craft a second one in 30 days. But that's the challenge. I'm not going to fail here. I have several ideas worth exploring, and some strategies I'm going to employ, all of which I will further discuss in a coming blog entry.
As I've sat here writing this entry, yet another sunset has slipped by through the window behind me. My Dream rests, the dim glow of the moon providing its only light, but now, thanks to my cousin's inspiration and a Call to Adventure, a new candle can burn for the coming nights to provide the light I need to keep chasing that Dream until the next sun rises.