Tuesday, June 10, 2003


Wrote about 1000 words last night and sketched out the remainder of the last chapter. I hope to finish it today. And then start mapping out the next two projects and maybe even start writing the romance this week. Exciting, in a bittersweet, terrifying kind of way.

Human Dignity has been rattling around in my mind for three years. This is the first idea that actually stuck around in the various recesses of my brain and refused to go away. The idea even took pity on me and let me think I was doing a good job and going somewhere with it way back when it first came to me. Until that moment, any creative writing spark snapped and fizzled or turned extremely vague, boring, and ugly after hanging out with me for a couple weeks. But not Human Dignity. It started slow, with grandiose ideas that tried to shove a theme down the throat of anyone who so much as read the first paragraph. I was able to drag a timeline out of it, that I dutifully wrote down (so now, unfortunately, there is a record of just how much this novel could have sucked had it not morphed later :)). I picked at it like a scab for two years, wondering how long it would take me to finish.

My experience with the idea of Human Dignity emboldened me to write down other ideas that collided with my burgeoning creativity (hey, it's not egotistical - I was a scientist at the time, nowhere to go but up), and to even think about maybe writing *gasp* another novel or two. Then I joined a critique group last summer and everything came clearly into focus. My burgeoning creativity turned into a quirky muse whose inspiration began to step in time with the strange patterns of my thoughts and experiences. My muse slapped me upside the head with my voice. And a boatload of more novel ideas. She revealed a path in front of me that I couldn't ignore, I enjoyed it too much. I had to explore it.

Now here I am, about to turn around the first bend on that path. For the past year, I've been able to see the original road from which I came. It's always been there to provide a contrast, or even just the security of knowing it was still back there and I could run to it if I didn't like this new writing road. But by finishing Human Dignity, I will turn a corner and move deeper onto the path my muse showed me. The road of science and education that I had long been traveling will no longer be in sight. And I can't figure out if that's a good or bad thing. But it is scary.

The frightening element is dampened by the beauty and intricacy and depth of the path I'm traveling. Since my muse exploded onto the scene a year ago, the world of writing has amazed me. That amazement has not always been easy to take (the reality of the publishing industry; passionate discussions of rhetoric, language, and writing tools that challenge the way I think and tempt me - sometimes successfully - to abandon diplomacy; and the writing of so many great friends and authors that makes me wonder why I ever thought I could join their ranks), but it keeps me eager to know more and improve.

So finishing Human Dignity is exciting because it makes me realize that I really am committed to exploring this path. But it's bittersweet because I will be turning a corner, moving away from a fascinating part of the road that has been a real joy to walk. And it's terrifying because dedicating myself to a path reminds me of the path I had previously tread and how passionate I was about it. Leaving two careers in one year left a strange mark on me. It shook my sometimes (OK, I'll be honest - oftentimes) egotistical confidence. It shattered truths I thought I knew about myself. It made me hesitant to embrace any other path. It made me question everything. And so it's a perfectly normal reaction to drag my feet through the finish of Human Dignity. But that muse is still pushing me forward, preparing me for that first turn. Now I know what it feels like to curse a muse while embracing her at the same time.

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