Wide awake and it’s 3:00 a.m. So I pull my fancy night light out of the drawer in my bedside table and read magazine articles that might otherwise never see the light of day. I always enjoy Martha Beck’s perspective; she jogs my imagination. Her column in the May issue of “O” magazine on vision boards pokes at my curiosity, although I admit to a twinge of resistance, too. Do I still have confidence in such things? It’s been a while since exuberantly assembling images in pleasing arrangements on poster board, all while focusing positive energy on life changes and big dreams.
One phrase in her vision board how-to tickles my curiosity. “Forget about it,” Martha advises the reader. Success seems to include setting aside the collage, not hyperfocused vigilance. Interesting. This starts me thinking about my “get published” vision board from 2008, a collage that has been stashed away for months. At the time that I made it, I had committed to telling everyone — and I mean everyone — that I was looking for a literary agent for my historical young adult manuscript, “Safe Harbor.” No matter how out-of-context such a declaration might be.
This soon led to a fortuitous introduction to Diane Les Becquets, author of young adult fiction and recipient of a PEN American Fellowship. Looking back now, the events that followed seem so natural. But I am convinced that none of them would have come about had I not been willing to step out of my comfort zone. The person who introduced me to Diane is the husband of a woman I met at a craft fair. Yes, that’s right. I told a virtual stranger that I was looking for a literary agent! Just so happens, her husband is an English professor and colleague of Diane’s. He agreed to read my manuscript (talk about risk!) and if he liked it, he would speak to Diane about /for me.
Now here’s the part where you have to have faith. Diane wasn’t gaga over my manuscript. She thinks the voice is too antique for today’s young reader. But she did think my writing showed talent and promise. She offered to write a letter of recommendation to the MFA program at SNHU. The English prof wrote another. Two months later I was officially accepted into the program and arrived on campus for the summer residency. A year later I was awarded the Graduate Assistant position. And today I have in hand a strong manuscript draft of a teen-age memoir. Not bad for a high school drop-out.
But getting back to the vision board … I don’t have a literary agent and as of yet, there’s no publisher for my historical manuscript on the horizon. However, the MFA program comes with an advisory board of publishing professionals who are genuinely interested in helping fledgling writers. So I am closer than ever before, within conversational proximity. Now that I have spent the past two years honing my writing skills, perhaps it’s time to return to the manuscript that led to the MFA. Who knows what revisions and improvements are now possible. But first, I’m going to take my chances and test the waters with a submission to the Salem Literary Festival writing contest.
What do I know for sure? The story is not yet finished. My story, that is. The one told in images and phrases and captured on the poster board. The good news? Vision boards don’t come with an expiration date. I sure can’t wait to see what the next chapter brings!
Do you have a story about a vision board? I’d love to hear about it.