Inspired or Intimidated?

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a reception in honor of Amy Tan given by the Virginia Piper Center for Creative Writing/A.S.U. The first book of Tan’s I ever read was The Joy Luck Club. I remember reading her characters and dialogue and being in awe of her writing. I was in awe as I stepped forward to be introduced to her as well. I made small talk for a moment asking where she had flown into Phoenix from, admiring her lovely dress that she remarked was her air conditioning dress. We laughed and I told her how she inspired me to keep writing and shared my few recent publishing accomplishments. She seemed genuinely pleased and told me to keep writing and submitting. As I listened to her presentation later that evening, I sat in the audience and knew I would never be able to write as Amy Tan writes. She began writing years ago; she is accomplished; her characters live on the page. Tan says that every story is initially about the author; that is how we get to the deep feelings in our characters. The next step is to turn it into fiction. Questions raced through my mind. Do my stories get to the depth of feelings? Do I put enough of myself into each one before turning it to fiction? Could I possibly be fortunate enough to be published? The inspiration she had given me just an hour before, seemed to melt into intimidation and self doubt. When she signed my copy of The Joy Luck Club and smiled up at me, I chose to hang on to her words of inspiration. “Good for you. Keep writing; keep submitting.”  

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