My turn has come to write this blog for the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop. I’m new to SCWW and to the Board of Directors. Faced with this task, I have to admit I’m a bit nervous (ask Ginny - thanks for your patience). The fact that I am posting this on April Fool’s Day is also not lost to me. Basically, my jitteriness comes from the fact that I have never written a blog before. No, I don’t live under a rock and I’m not a dinosaur…yet anyway. I just never had the opportunity or the need to write one. I also never felt I had anything awe inspiring to say. Yes, I am a writer. A writer of fiction. My characters have plenty to say. But me? What could I possibly have to say when not hiding behind my pen (laptop) or in my make-believe world? So, I got to thinking about doing new things. The whole concept of new. New according to my Visual Thesaurus means among other things: young, fresh, recent. The word is an adjective, and writers at (nearly) all costs should avoid an adjective, according to many of my writing mentors. But, the definition of the word: come into being, acquired, or discovered; is just too good to avoid as a subject matter.
I’m sitting here on my screen porch smelling fresh (yes, new) jasmine and seeing that the grass is turning green. With buds on the trees and a robin at my bird feeder, it’s clear to me that spring has arrived. Yes, the newness of spring. What was old is new again. Oh, Lord, is that one of those dreaded cliches writers are forewarned against? Adjectives and cliches. What’s next? (Insert gasp here). Well, all of this is necessary for the point I’m trying to make…this past year for me has been about newness.
The end of March marked my one year anniversary. Hard to believe. It stills feels so fresh to me. I moved here from upstate New York. A northern in the south? Nothing new there according to the demographics of my neighborhood, but, having been born and raised in NY, it’s all been a time of discovery for me.
Okay, so a new home and new State. New accents and new foods to try. And I must admit have tried a lot of food (South Carolina peaches - love ‘em). Something else I discovered is that I love volunteering. The first place I tried was Huntington Beach State Park (HBSP). I do tours there and with that came a whole new bunch of things to learn. Then I started to take courses at Coastal University where I was very lucky to meet a wonderful woman, our own Tibby Plants. Tibby invited me to join SCWW. I did and I as a result, I’ve literally come (back) into being a writer. I have discovered, rediscovered, and gained many fresh ideas. I can’t begin to thank Tibby enough for her help, her encouragement, and her insight. This may sound odd, but that kind of real dedication and support to help others learn and improve is new to me as well. In fact, the entire Surfside Chapter of my writer’s group has given me so much that my writing feels fresh and new.
That brings me to my next new point. Taking something old and making it new. I have been working seriously on a fictional series for years now. In fact, two of the books were published. Problem was, I was never satisfied with how they turned out, so I got back my rights to the books and began to revise them. I’m much more proud of them now and with the help of my writer’s group, they are shaping into exactly what I hoped. My new goal is to publish them by late summer and, you guessed it, find a new publisher. Notice the theme here?
My other new experience was to volunteer with a theatre group. I had assisted in theatre in upstate NY but I found they weren’t as willing to help me learn. That can sometimes be the problem with acquiring new skills. Sometimes people only want experience and overlook the pure joy of teaching and sharing knowledge. They often forget that we all learn something new everyday. At least I hope so. I have lots of experience in my bag but none of it is perfect. None of what I know is so flawless I can’t learn new things. Anyway, I missed the theatre so I joined the Murrells Inlet Community Theatre (MITC) group and, yes, once more, fell in love. They are a hard working band of people oozing with talent. They have also inspired me to try something else…I would like to write a play. It may or may not go far, but something tells me this band of professionals will help me learn this new skill. Of course, I hope I have the talent, but jitteriness over something new is the old me. This blog has helped me realize that.
So what have I learned? That new isn’t just for the young. I think (cliche alert) you can teach an old dog new tricks and that the old dog can use old tricks to aid them in learning something new. New is an attitude. A desire to redo, undo, and add. It’s an urge to begin…again. Spring does it every year. New growth on an old plant.
New is a journey. It requires an open mind and a degree of courage to let go and simply try. Of course, good friends and good organizations like SCWW, MITC, and HBSP, are great starts.
So what else have I learned? Reach out. Take old likes/loves/interests and find ways to make them new again. Search for a great bunch of people who will help. New doesn’t have to be scary. Look at me. I just completed my first blog. It may not be the best, but I did it and I bet I’ll learn something new from it. The whole point is that in the end, new can make old young again. It really can be a beginning to more new things. Oh, and did I mention? I had a birthday at the end of March. Which, come to think of it, only means I’ll be a new age. I’ve never been fif…er, never mind. Guess I should save that for another blog.