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2017: Game on

Hello my friends! Long time no “blog,” eh? Well, I have some relevant and fairly exciting things to share with you.

Worst Year EverOh, 2017. To say I’m not very excited about this year is an understatement. Given the state of political affairs in this country, I feel as if the air has been sucked out of my lungs and I’m left gasping for breath like a dying fish in a drying creek bed. Lovely. However, it’s my belief that great turmoil begets great thought and my experience that melancholy is the true soul food for writers. So perhaps 2017 will be a productive year for me!

But I don’t want to ignore my artistic endeavors of 2016. Yes, another challenging year, but like I said, distress seems to spark something in me creatively. I conjured up not one, not two, but three new and different story ideas this past year. After quite a long dry spell, I’m pretty impressed with myself. One of these ideas I decided to explore and develop to the point where I believe I have something quite interesting on my hands.

So the big news is that I’m working on a new novel. What’s a writer without an unending and unfinished novel, am I right? But I really hope to get something done with this one. In fact, my goal for 2017 is to complete a first draft of this book. Ambitious, right? In effort to keep myself working and motivated, I’m telling everyone so you guys can hold me accountable.

“What’s the deal with your book?”

“Have you been writing?”

“How many pages?”

Etc.

That’s what I want to hear. Seriously! I’m notoriously undermotivated so perhaps this approach will do something for me.

Also in 2016 I had the great pleasure of participating in “The Lab,” a writing workshop by Matthew Clark Davison in SF. Throughout the six classes, his writing prompts really expanded my thought bubble in terms of looking at my story from new angles. I found the workshop to be fruitful, exciting, and a bit intimidating, honestly. Each session of The Lab is different, so there’s a good chance I’ll be participating again this year. After all, we grow by challenging ourselves. (What a trite platitude, I know, but it’s still true!)

So all in all I’m pretty excited about my writing prospects for 2017. I’d like to share some of my thoughts along the way and hope you all will stay tuned and help keep me going. Fingers crossed!

Memories in the attic

When I was back home last Christmas, I climbed up into my parents’ attic to look through boxes of my old stuff. I found some cute things, some sad things, and inexplicably several pairs of terribly outdated shoes. But I also found a pseudo journal I would write in whenever I felt confused, sad or just the need to wallow in self-pity. As it happens, I did this quite often in my angsty teenaged years.

The last entry into this journal, however, struck a chord. The essence of the entry was my trepidation in leaving my home for San Francisco. At the time I scratched out my fears and questions into the little book, I hadn’t officially decided to make the move, though the idea had been on my mind for years.

It’s interesting how we respond to opportunity and change. Sometimes we embrace it, other times (most times?) we shy away out of fear. This has been a recurring theme in my life; to change or to stay the course?

Looking back, I can remember well the worries that kept me awake at night the months before I packed all my belongings into my little car and took off. Afterall, I had spent 16 years of my life in Nashville. I had friends, family, job opportunities, connections and familiarity. It was home. San Francisco represented the things I wanted out of life, but being the pragmatic person I am, I also realized there was no guarantee of success or happiness there. It was just an idea, a fantasy, an escape.

I suppose exploring new opportunities is scary not just because failure always lurks behind the corner, but because there’s also the possibility of ruining the fantasy, of realizing your goals are unattainable. To me, this is heart-breakingly terrifying. Enough to keep me from trying, even, for fear of losing my most precious dreams. How do you tell the little girl giving fake interviews to the mirror that her dreams may fail? Well if you’re me, you just keep living in that fantasy without ever trying to make them reality.

Yes, I realize this sounds terribly wishy-washy, but I know I’m not alone in these fears. Familiarity is comforting and most people prefer to be comfortable. Change is the great unknown and that’s scary. But ultimately, the what-ifs can keep you from pursuing goals, experiences and, well, life.

These were questions my 22-year-old self wrestled with and – very bravely – I decided to take the plunge and move to an unfamiliar city where I had no friends, no housing, and no career opportunities. I’m still proud of myself for taking that step, especially since I don’t feel I have embraced too many other big changes since then.

Sure, I’ve taken little steps here and there, but I keep shying away from opportunities, even really promising ones. I think I need to take a cue from my younger self and just close my eyes, take a deep breath, and let come what may.

Let’s get this blog rollin’

So in the upcoming weeks I’m going to make an effort to start blogging (gasp). I’ll be synchronizing this blog with my Blogger blog. How many times can I say “blog” in a sentence? Probably many more than I already have. Bloggidy blog blog blog.

Anyhoo, here’s the mirror blog: www.dana-owens.blogspot.com

So how’s that for an intelligent first post? More to come and better content at that, I promise.