Many people like to make resolutions on New Year's Day. I tend to think of a Word of the Year and focus on making that my goal. This year's word of the year, thirsty, has to do with me starting a new chapter in my life: author.
Some of you may know that my family and I landed in the United States as refugees thanks to my American passport. It's a story I've been wanting to tell for decades but I never really figured out how to tell it. Then, as I sat listening to Ann Garvin speak at the 2016 Chicago Writers Conference about The Fifth Semester, a writing residency program that helps writers shape their book ideas, I had my "aha" moment. The next day I emailed Ann wanting to learn more. I knew I needed to do this program. Then I got cold feet.
I know Ann knew I was nervous so she reached out to check on me. I didn't have a fully-fleshed out book idea, I told her. She said don't worry. We're here to help you figure it out. I don't need to do it alone. That's when I booked it. I needed to write this book. Either as non-fiction or fiction, but I needed to write it.
The first part of the program would take place the first week of January, in Chicago. Thirsty became my word of the year because I wanted to quench my thirst and figure out some stuff that needed to be answered and this book would help me get those answers. I entered that Chicago loft in Logan Square and met my fellow writing comrades and roommates for the next four days where we'd be sequestered and focus solely on our book ideas. It was magical, cathartic and powerful.
Over the next four months, we'll be working one-on-one with our professor/instructor. I'm working with Erin Celello, author of two novels and an Assistant Professor of Writing for the University of Wisconsin system. Erin has been an amazing professor. Knowing how challenging this book will be for me to write, she's been both empathic and encouraging. Her feedback on my book proposal draft has been nothing short of motivating.
Right now I'm in the middle of writing out my chapter summaries and realizing I need to re-work some of my chapters. This is a much harder process than I initially thought since I'm basically outlining the book. Some parts don't make sense and some chapters could be removed. As I'm writing out the summaries, I'm remembering other details I've long since stored away in my memory bank and that's always fun to remember.
The reason I'm starting to work on my blog is because I want to share my process with you and invite you to share feedback with me. For those who know me personally or professionally, what would you like to see in this book? What kinds of books do you read?
Before I wrap up this post, I wanted to give a shout out to my husband, Matthew Krecun, who has been encouraging me to work on this book for more than a decade. He's been there for me for my entire adult life and without his encouragement, I don't think I'd ever have made this leap. And huge gratitude to my writing tribe: Kate Silver, Debbie Carlson, Cindy Kuzma, Kari Lyderson, Dawn Reiss, Kelly James, Claire Zulkey and Hilary Shenfeld. Finally, to Mare Swallow and the team at the Chicago Writers Conference for having Ann present at the conference last September.
Cheers, friends. Thank you for the positive encouragement so far. It's been nothing short of remarkable and I'm excited to share this journey with you.