The Naked Lady Bar is scarcely a year old and it’s already changed our lives. When our writing circle started in the darkening days of last fall, Oline, the Dane, and I were literary babies. Unedited, unpublished, mewling in the gloom. Oline was trying to figure out who Jackie was and what Jackie could be, the Dane was searching for her lost soul, and I was compiling a hefty stack of rejection letters and struggling through yet another novel I didn’t know if I would ever finish.
From her hidden dell in the shadows of Mt. Greylock, Honorary NLB Member Croftie prophesied that 2011 was the year we would all get published. But Croftie already had a book and an agent. We couldn’t quite believe her, much as we wanted to. As Honorary NLB Member Doug doubtless has the scars to prove, one should never question Croftie’s judgements.
One year later, Oline’s work has appeared in Contrary and Line Zero, and she’s brought Jackie to biography conferences in Texas, London, and New York. The Dane has a textbook coming out. The NLB has apparently spawned a Berlin branch, name and all. And I am finally getting a piece published.
A couple of hours before Oline, the Dane, and I met for the first time in the Naked Lady Bar, I’d sat in the Starbucks across the street and scribbled out a short story about a mischievous little witch. That story, much polished by the NLB and now entitled “Mab Ipswich, the Wickedest Witch,” will appear in the November issue of the children’s lit magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree (the story may also have accompanying illustrations, which is exciting. I am dying to see how the artist will depict Mab since I have such a clear picture of her in my head).
I think it’s no coincidence that my first published story was begun the same day the NLB met for the first time. The NLB has made us grow up. We are no longer literary infants. We are standing now, even if on still-shaky knees. We are walking now, though we don’t have much idea of where we’re going. But that’s okay. After a year of the NLB, I understand now that the important thing is just to take one step forward, and then another, then another, until your momentum picks up and it feels like you could keep on walking forever.