A lot of blogs I've read lately are about the writing journey. The vehicle we're traveling in, the road we're on, and the companions we meet along the way. Naturally, that means I've been pondering and mulling and turning this notion over in my mind for a while. Because to write is to embark on a journey that requires great tenacity despite great fear about what lies ahead and around the corner every time we submit query or a manuscript or a proposal.
And according to every writer I've encountered on this long drive toward my ultimate goal--the fears never end. It doesn't matter where one is along the path. Period.
Yet we persist. And pray. And cry. And celebrate. And hide tiny pangs of "I wish that success had been mind" in the deepest parts of our being. And we continue to smile. And we plod on.
All of this talk about journeys brings my favorite inspirational quote to mind: "The object of goals is getting there... the object of dreams is the journey."
Aha! The first part is easy for me. Goal setting? Bring it on. I am typical Type A, overachiever who always has a plan and makes up all kinds of rules, deadlines, lists, and I enjoy checking each and every accomplishment off my long lists. Yup, I can set contest deadlines, page counts, and querying lists up no problem.
It's dealing with the ridiculous potholes and frightening hair pin curves while I'm hitting the pedal to the metal that threaten to blow me away. It is the enforced "rest stops" that drive me insane. It is those days where I want to get to my destination in record time when I encounter a tracker puttering ahead of me, a speed trap forcing me to slow down, oh, and by the way, you gotta rest now or you'll run out of gas completely.
After many years of pushing myself forward and putting my shoulders up under the boulders in my way and throwing them out of my path and cursing the heavens when I am thwarted, I've learned that those unwelcome detours have driven me onward toward a new destination that's ultimately much better than the one I had plotted on my map.
It's in the moments when I've been my lowest where I've been forced to reevaluate my choices that I've discovered what I'm supposed to do next. They might be big life moments like losing a baby or developing an illness that puts you in bed for weeks--or they might be small ones like root canals, minor illnesses, or silly interuptions--it doesn't matter where they come from. They've all forced me to stop, listen to the universe's small whisper, and realize that now is the time to go in a new direction.
That's how I started writing. I got sick. I was forced to stay home and quit all my activities. Me. The go-getter. The one who always is there for everyone else. I had to stop. And I was not happy about it. And after a few months, I got bored. Very, very bored. And so I whipped out an old story I had started before my daughter was a twinkle in my eye, and I finished it.
That was in 2004. It was awful. Lots of head hopping. I had no idea about word counts, page numbers, publishing guidelines, RWA, workshops, craft, GMC, PRO, Romance Writer Chapters and meetings, critique groups, and the list goes on and on and on. Five years later, I've got four books completed, a PRO pin, and a wonderful network of other writing friends I admire and enjoy knowing.
I LOVE IT. Every hair pulling, insane, amazing high and low of writing is my world. I can't stop now.
And by living through that experience, I've learned a lesson that I will always carry with me as I move forward. Whenever I hit a pothole along my road, I do mutter a curse, I admit it. How can I not? I am a type A person--see above. But then I ask myself, why is this here? Why am I being forced to sit and wait? And then I surrender to the moment. And l look around. And I discover a new wonderful view and a different way of getting there.
And the dream continues.