Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lessons in having "not made it"

    This past Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Catherine Rankovic’s lecture “Holy States of Authorhood.”

    Ms. Rankovic, a published poet, essayist, and journalist in her own right, is also a professor of English at both Washington and Lindenwood University and an editor. Simply put, this woman knows her stuff. Even better, she is funny. I was immediately struck by Catherine’s wit – sharp, cutting. Listeners needed to participate in her lecture or you might miss a clever zing inserted in the midst of her talk. 

    Catherine took us through three stages of authorhood or as she called it, writerhood. During her presentation, I surveyed the room to view of a sea of heads bobbing up and down in agreement. It is not an easy time to be an author, to know how to be successful. It is easier to have self-doubt as a writer, especially during these changing times. If we had been in church a chorus of “Amens” would have followed!

    She discussed grief, failure, and self-deception. During each theme, Ms. Rankovic shared poignant moments or thoughts, perfectly attuned to the feelings and needs of a writer. The Holy States of Authorhood is her talk, not mine to copy or steal, but I want to share just one major take-away from each of the themes. Listening to her on Saturday was just what I needed during this particularly rough time. With self-doubt about everything taking over and writer’s block in full effect, Catherine appeared on the horizon at just the right time for this wannabe writer. 

The Holy States of Authorhood:  
Grief: Catherine reminded us that everyone suffers. She continued on, telling us that grief is not a burden but “instead a privilege because it means you have written and despite your grief, you plan to write again.” This comment stuck with me long after she left for the day. What powerful words!

Failure: There is much I wish I could “borrow” from Ms. Rankovic here. Her words on failure rang out like a beacon in the night. She told us we are not alone in our failure, especially that Saturday, surrounded by a supportive group of writers, colleagues, and friends. We are a shared spirit, helping each other succeed when experience success and rise again when we fall. Perhaps her words sum it up best, “Accepting failure is a state of grace.”

Self-Deception: Catherine, while bold during her entire presentation, was particularly strong about this theme. An independent woman by nature, I thought I could see sparks igniting behind her eyes in this section.  My favorite from this part was short and to the point. Ms. Rankovic said, “We should only write because we enjoy writing.” Agreed. 

    Catherine’s talk was so much more than I could attempt to outline here. The best I can do is share that I needed to hear it and appreciated her candor and spirit. Write on friends, write on!

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