Friday, August 25, 2023

How'm I Feelin' ?


Well, I'll tell you . . .

I have written and posted endlessly about being awarded the PCLC Residency

I have not, however, written about how I feel about this prestigious award.

Writers, I think, enjoy the practice of journaling to process their feelings.  I often wonder how others handle and process the litany of feelings and emotions we all experience during times of extreme highs and/or lows if not by writing. 

We can talk it through, for sure.  IF we have at least one person we trust and who we know honestly and truly wants only good things for us.  Someone who is proud of us when good things happen, and who hurts right along with us when bad things happen.  No pretending.

Not everyone has that person.

Not surprisingly, my person is Donald.

Over the past 40 years, he has celebrated the highs with me, he has cradled me during the lows.

He has also never hesitated to tell me when I need to back up, slow down, rethink and reset.

It's for this reason I did not immediately share with him, or anyone, the lightning bolt of an email I received from Jonathan Haupt, Pat Conroy Literary Center Executive Director.

I wanted to think this through for reasons some of you might find surprising.

Sherrie Norris, in her High Country Press article, says, "Applying for the Writer in Residency opportunity was a rather simple process for Barley, she said. “I saw the application on-line, and filled it out, hit send . . ."

Yep.  That was the easy part.

Because I also thought that was the end of it.

Believe me.

I filled out the application thinking, "how very cool would this be?  Pat Conroy would probably say 'go for it.'  And who knows, it could happen, right?!"  Also, there was the opportunity to stay in the most precious cottage on St. Helena Island, MarshSong.

I believe MarshSong was singing to me.

I have never applied for a writer's residency before.  Never really thought about it, never even considered it.  The fact that this was all about Pat Conroy and the Center   built to honor him, along with the residency over-lapping with the 8th Annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival,  just felt like I might be able to have a chance at a dream.

It was, to me, all about Pat Conroy.

And an opportunity to get back to the beautiful, magical Low Country where my novel WHIMSEY is set.

An opportunity to try to revisit and create some new Whimsey magic.

I know there are people who were surprised by the announcement.

Let me assure you, no one was more surprised than me.

I've been asked two questions several times.

How did I feel when I learned mine was the winning submission, and what are my plans?

A little hard to explain those first immediate feelings.  

Stunned and silent.  That was my first reaction.

After re-reading Jonathan's email a couple of times, catching my breath, wiping away a couple of tears, whispering "Holy Shit," and fixing a fresh cup of coffee I allowed myself time to think.

Did I want to do this thing?  Well, of course I wanted to do it.

But, could I?

Could I honestly present myself as a writer?

A "real" writer?

Go to Beaufort, SC as the newest PCLC Resident Writer?

Maybe it was the splash of Kahlua in my coffee that had me nodding my head muttering, "I can do this."

What fool would walk away from this opportunity?

It's not as if this sort of thing happens every day - OR even once in a lifetime.

I responded to Jonathan's email in what I hope was a non-gibberish version of "Yes.  Thank you.  I am beyond honored."

Then hopped up to share my news with Donald.

LordAMercy, but what would I do without Don Barley?

Watching his face light up, hearing him say, "I am so proud of you, Kaye Alan."

Life is good.

Really, Really Good.

Over the past few days, I have been exchanging emails with the gracious Mary Ellen Thompson who will be my hostess at MarshSong.  Mary Ellen has already made me feel welcomed and embraced.  I look so forward to time with her sharing a glass of wine and long conversations.  I think there may be an adventure or two . . .

As to plans . . .

First on the list is deciding what I'll pack to take to Beaufort.  

               . . . will I need a new frock?

That's as far as I've gotten (aside from pulling out my WHIMSEY #2 manuscript for a  dusting off . . .)

But, y'all?  Ain't life grand?!

Do not ever forget that dreams do come true.

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