Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Unexpected Path and a Writer's Vow

It's feeling more real. Everything, actually. My writing, the baby, work, and where I see myself going.

I feel like a path is taking shape - revealing itself through the swirling mist of confusion and self-doubt that has plagued me for the past several years. I wouldn't say I can see very far into the future (though as my rh negative post implies, my family might) but I feel I can see enough.

I'm not as worried now. This is probably because in the last few days I've had some very positive feedback on my writing (Look forward to more info on that shortly. And no, it's not about my books or short stories, though I expect something is coming around the bend for them too.). Suddenly I don't feel like things are impossible. Affirmation from someone besides your husband or your parents will do that. It feels good. It opens possibilities.

Because of this little piece of security in myself, I feel like I can relax enough to dream.

When I was in Americorps, I had the best mentor I think I've ever had. I think, more than anything, my time with her was intended. She did many things that struck me, and shaped me in ways I did not expect. She had us do exercises as a group that I had never seen done before. One of the things she had us do was get into pairs and dream aloud about what would make life more wonderful. The challenge was to make what our partner said more wonderful until we voiced the most specific and best possible outcome we could imagine. At the time I probably thought it silly (though useful in a fun sort of way). Now, I wish I could get others to engage this process with me. I understand its value.

That exercise is good because it helps you to stretch your expectations. It helps you to visualize and to reach for things. Everyone in sports (and those who follow self-help trends) will tell you visualization is key to success. Of course in sports outcomes are limited by the rules of the game. In life, there are no rules. The possibilities are endless.

The second lesson, the much harder one which my mentor was only able to hint at before we went our separate ways, has to do with attachment. The universe does things in its own way and time. Yes, the visualization helps. Yes, focusing on the end result helps. Having goals helps. But the path...the path is unexpected.

I think about my baby and what the ultrasound tech said about kiddo following dates exactly and how rare that is. This is a metaphor for all of us in life. There is a set pattern, a group of expected mile markers that occur within given times of life, but they are rarely followed to perfection. Does it really matter if the baby is more active earlier? If he or she is a few days below weight? As long as the baby is born healthy, it doesn't matter that mom threw up once or daily. It doesn't matter that her belly was small or large.

Yes of course it changes the experience, but the goal is still achieved. The path was unexpected, but the desired result still came to fruition.

This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. Its ironic. When I was younger I wouldn't have minded so much about switching gears and following the path in an unexpected way, even if it seemed to point backwards. Now that I have specific goals in mind, specific dreams that I've held for longer than six months, I find I struggle with becoming attached to a certain way of doing things. An expected path is comfortable. The problem is, clinging to the expected can fight against the natural course of progress. By clinging to the expected, I may end up stuck, missing my chances to move forward towards what I really want - which was never the path, but my goal.

Consider me schooled.

I thought I wanted - no, that I needed an agent. I thought I needed to be published by a big publishing house and that in the mean time I needed to market myself the way so many indie authors do - with book trailers, blog tours, and solicited reviews. But that's not me, at least not now.

I can't stand that part of the industry. I just haven't connected with anyone. I haven't found a person in fiction (yet) who can connect me to the rest of it. For me, that is what I would need to do the traditional PR song and dance. So instead I'm doing what I do well. I'm going to write.

I'm going to rewrite my partially finished books and finish them. I'm going to self-publish them not because I'm afraid of rejection, but because they will speak for themselves. I'm going to write short stories and essays and I will submit them to magazine after magazine, contest after contest until they are published. I'm going to blog every day, on this site and hopefully others that will bring me some guaranteed income. And by the end of this, I will be so fricking amazing, and my name will be so pervasive, that PR specialists, and agents, and publishers, and movie studios will come to me.

This is my vow. My promise to myself.

I don't know exactly what will happen. I don't know that my path will continue on this trajectory. All I know is that since I got pregnant, I've been blogging more and my book sales have increased. It's not a lot, but it's noteable. It's enough for me to say it's worth the daily 3 am post, and possibly the fourth and fifth self-published book. It's worth the submissions to literary magazines and contests.

I guess God knows how much a person needs to keep going. All I needed was a well timed voicemail and an affirming email. Invigorated by my new-found confidence, I will take the next step on my unexpected path, relishing its surprising uniqueness, trusting in my success.

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