An Unexpected Detour

Hand-writing-with-penBack in November 2014, I launched my second push to complete the third draft of my memoir. My goal was to edit the first 100 pages and rewrite the second 100 pages. By the end of the year I planned to have 200 pages completed (or roughly two-thirds of a book). Then a nasty thumb infection struck. Although I managed to flesh out a few short scenes, for the most part, this goal was postponed. I couldn’t type or write with a pen for more than a few minutes without my hand cramping up, or worse, throbbing in pain. Although I wasn’t happy about this, I also had to accept the fact that, at least for the short-term, I didn’t have a choice.

The infection is finally under control (yay!) and I am on the road to recovery. I’ve completed two months of physical therapy and have at least one more to go before I have a fully functioning thumb. Typing or writing longhand, at least in moderation, will help my hand improve. So I am turning my attention once again to my long-delayed third draft.

But wait….

Connie Post, a fellow writer and autism mom, as well as my neighbor and the former Livermore Poet Laureate, told me a month ago about a wonderful chapbook competition for emerging women poets offered by Finishing Line Press in Kentucky. Any woman who hasn’t had a full-length book of poetry published can submit. I consider myself a literary nonfiction writer, not a poet. I’ve only had three or four poems published—ever. But I do write poetry on occasion. All I needed was 23 to 26 poems, preferably ones that revolved around a central theme, ready to submit by March 31st.

I really wanted to have a completed manuscript by my self-imposed deadline of March 31st. I couldn’t finish the memoir in time, but what if I took a short detour and did a chapbook instead? I decided to take the plunge and challenge myself. Wasn’t that the whole point of my Yearlong 50th Birthday Bash?

For two weeks, I lived and breathed poetry. It took a lot of work, but by mid-March I had enough autism poems (24 to be exact, with a few more waiting to be finished) to complete a chapbook-length manuscript. I turned my attention to revision. The thought of submitting no longer seemed far-fetched.

ThumbupNext Tuesday (or sooner) I’ll be sending my manuscript off with fingers crossed. If I make it into the top ten finalists, my chapbook will be published in print and eBook format. It may take a year, but that’s okay. I’ve got plenty of other projects to keep me occupied while I wait.

It’s interesting how the universe works. I’ll have a completed manuscript by the time my 50th year ends—just not the one I expected! Which is pretty much how things tend to happen in my wacky, wondrous unplanned life.

Until next time,
Cynthia Patton

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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