Grabbing the bull by the horns

I’m watching Julie and Juila. I’ve resisted it since it came out. The previews turned me off. I can’t put my finger on why. I was of two-minds about the movie itself. Parts of it were marvelous. I would love to watch an entire movie about Julia Child’s life. What a fascinating woman. I now know more about Juile Powell’s life than I probably ever wanted to.

The end of the movie had two scenes that were…magnificent. The first was Julia answering the door in her Cambridge home to a mailman delivering a letter, special delivery. Her book, what would become Mastering the Art of French Cooking, had sold. The other was Julia’s husband handing her a package. Her first copy of the book that she clearly put her heart in to.

Julie Powell probably had some similar moments in her life. The movie sort of showed it when her answering machine was packed full of messages from literary big-wigs wanting to talk to her after she’d had a write up in the New York Times. I’m sure she got an author’s copy of her book delivered to her apartment, and the moment had to have been wonderful for her.

Julia Child produced something original. Something she literally had to do herself, because she could not find an English language French cookbook. She fell in love with food, and then went about making a life around what she loved. And then shared it with the world. That is what I want to do. I want to be brave, like Juila, and grab on to what I love with both arms and hold on for the ride. I can be a writer. I have original ideas. I can learn how to present them, how to work the words in my head and in my heart into something on paper. But as long as I keep arranging my life around Plan B and Just in Case–I’m not allowing myself to be what I could be.

I want my moment. That bright, beautiful moment when I know that I’ve put everything I have inside of me into a project. When I know that what I’m sending out is my own heart in Times New Roman 12 point type. I want to dance on my front porch with my husband when my letter of acceptance comes. I want to open a package wrapped in brown paper that holds a copy of my book.

And guess what. There is only one way to get there. That’s one word at a time. And that means putting aside fear and doubt and worry that other people can do what they love and the money will come, but not me. Not as a writer. It means realizing that I’ll be 40 years old in two years, and there is no time like the present to be brave. What’s the worst that can happen? Julia was the queen of the five second rule. If it’s not right the first time,  just pick it up, pat it back into place, and keep going.

I have my interview with Goddard College on the 11th. I’m going to get in. I can feel it. It seems that dozens of little choices have been leading me to this path. The choice to write, even though I didn’t know what I was doing. The choice to go to school, even though I didn’t know to what end.

Now I have enough credits to transfer in as a junior, which is required. I also had a pretty decent portfolio already written. I sent bits of three stories. One a work-in-progress that I’d only self-edited, one part of a completed novel that has been extensively edited and re-written with the help of an editing partner as well as very useful rejections from two different publishers, and one a short story that had already gone through the publishing process and was professionally edited. My work now is largely self-directed in a field that isn’t always that way, and my supervisor was willing to write me a nice reference letter. I’m just finishing up a upper level Anthropology class with lots of writing and that teacher is willing to write me a reference letter as well.

Even a year ago I wouldn’t have been ready to consider a BFA program. Today I am.

Today I want it more than anything.

p.s.  (but so not a p.s., really the most important part of every December 8th for the rest of my life)…Ruby is five years old today. Five. It hardly seems possible. Just yesterday she was so tiny I could carry her around with me all day. Just yesterday she was small and pink and round and had the cutest dimple in her chin. She still has the dimple. It’s still super cute. But now she’s long and lean and not a baby anymore. Not a toddler anymore. Not even a pre-schooler anymore. She’s a little girl who spent all evening writing her name on big sheets of paper on her new easel with crayons, with markers, and with water paints. My baby is five. Gloriously five. Watch tomorrow for some pictures and a little something about the celebration.


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