Will I fit in?

Today was my first day as a volunteer at the HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) program at Wayne State University. The program was founded when the president’s wife heard about a student who had paid her tuition and bought her books and was living in her car. The goal of the program is to help indigent students with essentials such as housing, transportation and child care so they can make it through college.

I volunteered to be a writer for the program. After reading the student volunteers’ work, I can see that I am badly needed. But I disappointed them by announcing that I would not be available every day. Their post at VolunteerMatch.org said they wanted someone to work 4-6 hours. Apparently, they were hoping for somebody 4-6 hours A DAY.  Sorry, wrong girl. I hope they want me, anyway.

Will the kids like me? I need companionship.

Last night I wrote four pages of “Tin Soldiers.” That makes nine pages this week, but I’m not confident of them. I might have to rewrite my second draft as I go. I started to waver last night, thinking this is too much of a goal and I’ll never make it. I did some research and realized my understanding of the war on the home front is pretty shallow. I can buy some resources that include newspaper articles of the time for each city in a Great War project in Britain, but do I want to spend the money? And which cities do I want the details of? And should I get the Kindle versions, just so I don’t have more books lying around? The war shelves are overflowing as it is. I have too many books about the American Army that I don’t even want.

www.amazon.com/wishlist/war

I gave in and purchased a $150 book about VADs. Can’t send it back. I felt a little sick, like I was jumping into a river, just like Emmy, only I was trying to rescue myself.

“Believe in your work.” That’s what I tell other writers. Never stop trying to make it better, and never stop. You’re not a loser if you decide to set one project aside and go on with another. Just go on.

This is the only project I want to go on with. “Egypt” is what it is. I’m showing “Wendy” to my other group. And I’m showing my memoir to no one, not right now.

I have to set my heart on “Tin Soldiers.”

101-0167_IMG

Now what?

Act I: Growing up, college, marriage, children.

Act II: 30 years of copy editing at the Detroit Free Press while children grew up, went off to college, got married and so forth. I have twins who, between the two of them, have supplied me with two sons-in-law and two grandchildren.

Act III: Now that I’ve left the Free Press, I sort of have to figure out what to do with myself. I would like to work in a nice office in my office clothes and always have nights, weekends and holidays off. This is my quantifiable goal.

But it isn’t what I really want. I want to be a published writer.

Over the past two years, I’ve written a short story, a children’s story, a picture book, a memoir, a novella and a bad novel. None of them has ever been rejected… because none of them has ever made it past a critique group. My comrades praise my work, I make the tweaks they suggest (though there’s no tweaking that novel), and then I leave hard copies, flash drives and computer files lying around everywhere, waiting for the submissions fairy to come.

I want to be like Liane Moriarty and Emma Donoghue. I want to have written “The War That Saved My Life” and “The War I Finally Won.” When I wish on a star, which is the principal reason I walk out with my dog at night, I say, “I wish I could write something really good that makes a lot of money, but is really good.” Kirkus and cash and the NY Times.

I wish I could. Meanwhile, I can’t think of one word. Not one.