Monday, July 13, 2009
Living the Dream
Lately I've had more than one person tell me that I'm living their dream life. Funny thing is, I just keep walking out my life, showing up for the next day and making the most of it or either just turning it into a really sloppy, good for next to nothing mess where I'm just glad to rest my weary head and that I haven't committed a felony even if I didn't get anything accomplished - including writing a single word.
I've considered writing this blog for well over a month now. I don't normally do that but this is different. The great blog creator K.G. gave us a few topics to choose from related to the writing life. About how we got the call or what writing means to us. SO - that seemed so serious and important I decided that I really must wax eloquent on the subject. Something timely that would measure up to my fellow writers here who have given great inspirational, and practical advice coming and going. Well, the last time I tried to wax eloquent I was standing in front of a large group of church folks. Large being about a 1000 people and I had really, really, really from the bottomest part of my heart wanted to say something that was just dandy and inspiring. What happened instead is that I told a story about cleaning the cat litter pan that happened to involve a lot of marital bliss and enlightenment. There wasn't a dry eye in the house I tell you but it wasn't from the high note of divine eloquence I had hoped for. It was because I was just telling the truth, the raw and funny way that life is most days. Apparently, it was just the good medicine those folks needed for that particular day because I've never seen that many people laugh so hard in perfect unison in all my life and days of stage talking. It was downright strange. And I suppose in that way - it was divine after all.
Well, as I stated, I've been thinking about how important this subject is to me and to all the people I know who love words, or write, or want to write, or are trying to get published and now it's about midnight and my hallway smells strangely of cat. And I realize I'm right back where I started. Needing to clean the cat pan and searching for bad kitty and that this is the raw, dirty, messy funny part of life that really isn't any ones dream - including mine.
Most people know that I have been writing in some fashion all of my life. The thing is way back in 6Th grade I thought by now it would look differently at this point. That life would have taken on a degree of sophistication that involved big sunglasses, long scarfs, convertibles, and a passport with more stamps. Where in that twelve year old brain of mine I thought I'd be actually doing the work of writing I don't know - and it certainly never figured into the vision that I'd still be cleaning the kitty pan and have my suspicious nose to the carpet.
My brilliant playwright friend Waylon Wood once commented some years ago after a great night of theatre at what I think was one of his original productions - while someone was taking a photo of the theatre gang- that this would be the one that people would refer to when we were all famous. Well, God help us that was - ahem - over twenty years ago and I'm being modest. And while all of us have attained productions, publication, professional accolades, and some even best-selling status - none of us are yet what I would call - kitchen table famous. And to the best of my knowledge we are all still cleaning up after our own animals. I'm quite certain of it. And I know we're still trying to learn to clean up after ourselves emotionally and otherwise.
What I've leaned from writing is that the writers journey evolves and changes with the writer. Words can widen the life of a lonely sixth grader, can enlightened a bullheaded teenager, can be puffed up and prideful at twenty, can challenge at thirty, pay a few bills at forty, and at fifty - finally at fifty, that it's a glorious thing to connect to another soul through story. That I've never counted it as important as I do now when I make a new personal connection with a reader through a festival event, book club, or note from a reader.
Do I want my stories to be best sellers? To be featured on major book clubs? To be made into terrific award winning movies? Of course I do. This thing called writing - it's my job, career, calling, gift, hearts desire, means to an end or an end in itself, so yes - I want to be successful at doing my life's work. But no matter how I slice it or dice it at then end of the day for me it's not about the bottom line. It's not about the right agent, or the next contract. It's about the fact we've been given this awesome opportunity to step into a stranger's life.
Am I living the dream life? Yes, I am. But the vision for that life continues to be part of an ever growing journey and in that process the expectations and purposes of the woman behind the words has changed for the better.
River Jordan is storyteller of the southern variety. Ms. Jordan's first novel, The Gin Girl, has garnered such high praise as "This author writes with a hard bitten confidence comparable to Ernest Hemingway. And yet, in the Southern tradition of William Faulkner, she can knit together sentences that can take your breath."
Kirkus Reviews described her second novel, The Messenger of Magnolia Street, as "a beautifully written atmospheric tale." It was applauded as "a tale of wonder" by Southern Living, who chose the novel as their Selects feature for March 2006, and described by other reviewers as " a riveting, magical mystery" and "a remarkable book."
Her third novel, Saints In Limbo, recently debuted to such high praise as "a Southern Gothic Masterpiece" by Paste Magazine.
Ms. Jordan teaches and speaks around the country on "The Passion of Story". River lives with her husband Owen Hicks, and their Great Pyrennees lap dog, Titan in Nashville, Tennessee. She thinks about where stories come from - places and people and moods of the heart while rocking on her front porch. And long after the sun sets over the ridge, she waits for the moon to rise, watches the stars come out, and stares off into the blue-night sky believing with all her might.