Sunday, May 23, 2010

Taking the Plunge

Last week’s assignments: I completed and submitted my assignments to Wayward Writer’s Literary Kitchen. Finished a short story called “Days of Ice Cream” coming in at 1,600 words or so. I have not submitted it because it needs another draft. But contests and magazines abound. I will try and find a place for it, just not this week. And I smoothed two chapters from Catch a Falling Star.

For this week I need to learn to take a plunge ...

In March 2008 my amazing friend Dawn and I attended a retreat in Fiji studying with author Steve Berry (and others, students and staff). Paraphrasing an old saying that “all work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull,” what was known then as the Maui Writer’s Conference scheduled a river tour for those who wanted to take it.

Dawn and I did.

It changed my life.

I’ll save the first part of the tale of our journey up a river to a beautiful village and the Kava Ceremony for another time, and say that the second leg took us farther up that same river to a spot secluded in dripping, lush greenery. My heart rate slowed by three or four beats per minute from the peace. The two boats pulled up an inlet to a primative dock. We all disembarked and followed the trail, some of it making for interesting navigation, up a steep hill to a beautiful pool with a waterfall.

We indulged in some swimming and good times and one by one began our trek back down ... to the plunge. True Fijian warriors took the plunge, a jump of about twenty feet from a landing to a calm, gentle pool below. By the time I made it down, my friend Dawn and the author James Rollins had already jumped, had become Fijian warriors if you will.

They tried coaxing me down. I shook my head not convinced that they had actually taken it. The next person to arrive at the landing, literary agent Susan Crawford, took it without a pause. Just stepped right on up, and off the ledge she went. One, two, three ... splashdown.

Okay, I thought. I’ll do it, but there were too many variables to consider. How deep was the water? How far out did I need to jump? Did I have the courage to do this? A large muscular arm wrapped around my shoulder, our Fijian guide. He looked down at me and smiled.

“One. Two. ...”

I jumped on three, and became a warrior upon hitting the water. It was such a rush, I climbed back up and jumped again, this time with no fear or hesitation.

Which is the way I should have done it the first time.

Two weeks ago, I started this blog. That represented me walking up to the edge, looking down to see the conditions of the jump. Too much thought. Way too much thought.


Because I have to jump without thinking, you see. Just say to myself in the bass voice of the strong Fijian warrior, “One. Two ...” and submit. I made the commitment to you and me to make it onto the New York Times bestseller list.

So jump I will this week. Here’s how I will begin.

One. In addition to keeping up with my Wayward Writers assignments, I will polish the prologue and first three chapters of Catch a Falling Star. Two. Submit to at least three agents. It doesn’t matter that I still have to finish draft thirteen. If I get a nibble or two, I can .... Three. Jump into completing it.

Maybe I need that heart racing deadline on my way down to the water.

See y’all next week and I’ll let ya know how I did.

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