Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Pause on the Journey

by Hannah Roveto

The journey becomes so encompassing, we sometimes forget to pause and look around. Today, stop. Look around and breathe it in.

Five years ago I was known as "the writer" at work, the first to be assigned press releases and speeches and reports and executive correspondence. I walked the aisles of bookstores and libraries and ran my finger along the spines of novels I loved and ones yet to be discovered. Once I was old enough to spell, I wrote short stories, snippets of long stories. I even had friends who'd been published. Still, theirs was another world.

Then comes the moment. Enough. I cannot live another day without releasing that part of my insides that insists on taking this writing thing seriously. The notice is up on the library bulletin board: a writers' group, hosting an author. A writers' group; are you a writer, or not, Hannah? A phone call, and I am part of the group -- a dysfunctional one, but it is a declaration of intent, a physical and mental step forward. Every year, more steps, tentative and yet increasingly certain.

Five years later, I am picking up my child at that same library. A large poster promoting an author's appearance is behind us, and my daughter points with a big smile on her face as she turns to her friend's mother. "She's in the mall, too, and there's another picture downstairs with the book." This is true. The long glass-fronted bulletin board in the lower entrance features a fall author series. Amy is there, leading the way, and nearby is Hallie Ephron, whom I had the honor of interviewing for this blog.

"You know her?" asks the woman.

"She's my friend." This is not enough. Amy's gorgeous black-and-white photo nudges me. "She's in my writers' group."

A neighbor passes by at that precise moment, overhears. "Really? How's your book going?"

"I've started to query agents," I tell her. "And I'm starting a second one."

"Anita Shreve and Hannah Roveto. Quite the neighborhood." She smiles and gives me a thumbs-up. The low-slung, brown shingled house was the home of the senior Shreves, but I won't quibble.

I get home and open my child's backpack. This is the same day, I kid you not. A notice falls out; a writer and parenting expert is coming to the school complex's massive Performing Arts Center to speak. The story was in the weekly newspaper, as well, Lynne's name in bold type, her Web site -- her beautiful sea-glass site -- listed for more details on her parenting work and her fiction, coming out in April.

On my computer is a recent email, promising that a full revision of a lyrical, stunning story coming soon for my reading pleasure -- before the agent sees it. How cool is that? (That's not how Lisa described it, but her voice is so distinctive, this character and situation so compelling, it will be that!) Before I switch to my PR email, I check blogs I love, your blogs about writing and life, all names I know and voices I hear in my head from the words on a screen. I glance at the list on my desk, too. Agents names. Real agents with real offices, with notes on whom they represent, their contact information not only jotted down, but in a few cases now, used.

This is my real world, five years later. This is a journey for all of us, a unique individual journey; mine certainly has been made clearer because of Amy and Lynne and Lisa, but there is still the do-ing of it all that has unfolded within me. While it feels unreal some days, yesterday it felt crystalline solid. Where this journey will lead, I don't know, but I am moving every day deeper into that territory. When my boss says, "You're the writer, you take this," I smile. Today that has a whole different meaning. Today I really am the writer, evolving as the writer I wished I could be years ago, step by step.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hannah, this is lovely. Look how many steps you've taken so far--and who knows where your steps will continue to lead. Thanks for sharing the journey with all of us.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Right back to you. This blog is a big part of the journey, most for the community with all of you (and your blogs!) but also in that it forces us to think actively about what is happening in our literary lives on a weekly basis and to express that as effectively as possible. Love your post at Erma, by the way. Had not seen that; I know I will be back there, too!


Joanne said...

What I like here, and I feel too, is an appreciation of every step of the journey. But it is your "declaration of intent" that stands out to me. No matter how much we wish it, once we "own" it, something magical happens. It becomes a real part of us.

Larramie said...

Today you are a lovely writer, Hannah, and someday -- step-by-step -- you'll be an author too.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Thank you, both, and here's to Whole Latte Life and Seize a Daisy, too! It's the do of it all that makes it happen, at whatever pace, in whatever form. The old Nike slogan holds true. You want it? Just do it, then do it again... step by step!