Monday, August 24, 2009

No. 2 Pencil, Please

When I was eleven years old I planned to be the lead guitarist in a rock band. I even took guitar lessons to further this endeavor and after one hot summer of practice in a stuffy room and lugging that instrument around, I decided to become a dancer. At sixteen I planned to be a lawyer--until I discovered how many years of school that entailed. At twenty-five, I married the man of my dreams and planned to have a Cinderella marriage...yeah, well, I'm almost certain even Cinderella has launched one or both glass slippers at Prince Charming's head by now.

We've all made plans. We've set goals and made inroads to bring those images to fruition. But what happens when those plans are derailed? When life happens? We're so focused on sunset beaches with Mai Tais in Palm Springs, that when we end up with sandboxes and Juicy-Juice in Philadelphia, we're thrown! Frustration and disillusionment can set in. So can anger.

One plan that has persisted through my many career changes and reality checks has been my dream of being a published author. I've always known I wanted to write romance and one day have my books on the bookstore shelves next to my favorite authors. Even that has detoured from my original vision. Though I now have a contract, it didn't come six years ago like I planned, I still work a full-time job and instead of my book being on the bookshelf, it's going to be available as an e-book. I've prayed on it and asked God, why? Why, when I wanted that back then you gave me this now? It's what I wanted, God, it just doesn't look like it. I've learned this. If I'd received the contract six years ago, I wouldn't have been ready for it. Professionally, emotionally and spiritually, I couldn't have handled it. In the years since I've discovered balance, improved my writing skills and have found a support system in RWA that I didn't have then. By working a full-time job and still writing, I'm learning discipline and time management. And though I didn't envision e-book, I'm excited about the possibilities it represents and the doors it opens. But, if my mind had remained closed to anything but "the plan", I would have missed relationships, lessons, opportunities and successes.

So, is a plan a good thing? Oh, yes. A plan is long as it's written in pencil.


Christine said...

You're on your way--the journey is different for everyone. And I completely understand your point about not being ready then, but now you are. It's steps--for some they are giant, but others they are smaller.

My BF in Holland is so very excited to hear about every small step I have taken or door that is opening. She's says, "it's the learning curve darling and you're going to get there." Her enthusiasm for my journey encourages me to love it.

It's so easy to downplay our successes and that's why you KNOW I celebrate the small ones (hence my one book idea scrawled on an index card at a bar during a post , "gee I finished the first draft" celebration at same bar.

But heck, I celebrate words written.

I just love your energy, your spirit and your ability to juggle family, work and writing. It's contagious
(and I love the picture of Cinderella throwing slippers at her prince -- SO TRUE!).

M.V.Freeman said...

Excellent Post Naima,

Thank goodness for erasers, because my path keeps changing, or I lose the map..can't figure which.

Just think, each step, each goal accomplished is one step closer to the next. You keep on going!!!!

(and like Christine, that one about Cinderalla launching her glass slippers at Charming's head is PRICELESS!)

Jeanie said...

You know that old saying: That which does not kill us, seriously ticks us off.

No, maybe that's the menopause mantra.

Seriously, sometimes the road takes us where we expect it to, and other times not, but it's all an adventure.

This is an exciting time for you, enjoy! And may God continue to open doors and windows for you . . . and maybe a few mail slots and doggie doors as well. Whatever it takes to get you where you need to be on your journey as a writer!

Callie James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Callie James said...

Another wonderful post, Naima.

I do think we all get there at our own pace. I'm thankful now I didn't publish 20 years ago when I started. For one, my writing was crap. Two, I was eyeball-deep in problems as a single mother, and I know I couldn't have taken on the realities of the publishing world.

I firmly believe God knows what He's doing. There's our plan, and then there's God's plan. He's the one with the map. :)

Cari Hislop said...

Great post! I think God has a keen sense of humour (he has to, to put up with me moaning all the time).
You're so right, it's all about the journey, but its so easy to lose sight of it while we're trucking along and the trees zoom past...and then we find ourselves in a ditch...the car is totalled and we're standing there seriously irritated that our favorite shirt has blood on it, and that we now have to take a new direction. We forget we're alive and that, that direction we were travelling may have led to a cliff.

Cinderella must have thrown some shoes at her prince, especially that first year with all the firsts like...discovering he likes yanking your chain when you're pre-menstrual (shoe flies-hits target) or that he puts all his clothes in the lawndry basket except for his socks...and then he complains he hasn't got any clean socks minutes before he has to go to work (shoe flies-hits target) or looks at her prepared dinner and royally announces, "I'm not eating that!" (Shoe flies-hits target)(actually I didn't throw a shoe I just calmly said, "Fine, you can make your own dinner." And he ended up making his own dinner for the next five years - a suitable punishment)

I always thought I'd have about five children so they were factored into my list of dreams, but the children never came (crash)
new direction required...but considering I suffer from anxiety it's probably just as well...I'd probably have had a heart attack taking the children to the park...(Don't play in the sand, it might have dog poo in it...don't climb the tree you might fall out... don't...don't...don't...) I suspect God knows what He's doing!!! Life is good!!! After nearly 12 years with my husband I feel very blessed to have my for the rest of the dreams. They're still big and since I gave myself such a long time scale, I'm still on track...they could happen! In the mean time I really should finish that tricky chapter that's taking me nearly a week to write. I'm not procrastinating...oh yes!

Jessica Lee said...

Excellent post, Naima! It really hit home as I've started down more than one path, and then found myself in a totally different location. But I believe after all is said and done, you end up when and where you're supposed to be. Thanks for the inspiring and humorous reminder to stay flexible and to not get discouraged.

JoAnn said...

Eloquent as usual, Naima. Thank you!

Sherry Werth said...

Great post Naima. And oh so true. Mary was thankful for erasers. I have acquired quite an affection for Wite-Out.
List, plans, schedules, doesn't seem to matter, they all get altered no matter how much I try to stay on track.
Congrats on the e-book. You are on your way!