Okay, so this is Part Two of my not-sure-how-many-part series in “Writers, No One In Publishing Is Ever Going To Save You.” Here is the link to Part One.
Pulling Yourself Out Of The Mud.
In 2002, I started writing my first book. I didn’t know why, I didn’t know exactly what it was, but for some reason, six months pregnant and living in a crappy little apartment in Chino, California with horribly napped carpet that had been dyed a color that can only be described as almost black, I opened my giant Toshiba laptop and began writing the book I would (much, much) later self-publish, A BETTER LIFE.
I didn’t know what I was doing and it didn’t even matter. Unable to keep flying (I was a flight attendant at the time) I was passing long pregnancy minutes on maternity leave. There was no thought of doing anything with these words, they were just words collecting on a hard drive, words becoming a story to fill the hours.
Now, because this is a blog post and not a memoir, fast forward through five more years: babies are born; graduate school is started and dropped out of, homes are bought and sold; a move is made from California back to Colorado; graduate school is started back up–life continued.
And I began attending my first writers’ critique group. It is at these group meetings, that the publishing seed is planted.
I began paying attention to publishing stories; seemingly miraculous events where it looked like obscure housewives were just minding their own business and then, they had a dream they wrote down and the next thing they knew a multimillion dollar publishing tour bus carrying power agents, smart editors, and savvy publicists parked outside their house and proceeded to sweep the rest of their life off to New York and other far flung international ports of call.
Sign me up for that!
Seriously, guys, where do I sign up for that?
Having never found that particular ‘Instant Success’ booth at the job fair, the months and years of querying, revising, and submitting made me lose hope, made me question what I was thinking, made me believe that if my story didn’t happen like magic too, than it probably meant I was not “supposed” to be a writer–never mind “author.”
In comparison to pursuing a writing career, balancing new motherhood with graduate school was a snap. Clearly, this was my ‘get real’ destiny.
Only, it wasn’t that simple. Like a filthy writer addict, I kept lurking the agent blogs, crafting new queries, reading the deal reports. All of this watching others accomplish what I (now secretly) desperately coveted, was making me very, very unhappy. I could no longer even pass by a bookstore, and you can forget about going inside, without experiencing great self pity.
I was utterly sad and pathetic. Mired in the mud of my own making.
Now this next bit I share, I am fully aware, opens the door to full fledged ridicule and skepticism. But it’s the truth, so here it is. In 2007, while my almost four-year-old and two-year-old were taking a nap, (in true housewife fashion) I was watching an episode of Oprah. She was talking about a film, THE SECRET. I’m sure you’ve head of it?
Like it, love it, hate it, dismiss it–say what you will. What I say is that day in 2007 was a beginning for me. It was on that day I began to understand that I DO have power over what happens in my life. The intentions I focus on coupled with the choices I make and the actions I take are what propels me though life and toward any number of potential possibilities. Up to that point, I had focused on intentions and made choices that created a version of me as a mother and a graduate student–while I had walked away from intentions and choices that would lead to a version of me that was also an author.
I DID THAT. Not publishing. I gave up, didn’t give it my all, and stopped believing (although I don’t think back then I ever really believed I could in the first place.)
I am no The Secret master, or more accurately, I am not a Rosicrucian; however, I do know that anything you truly want to accomplish starts with the belief that you can get there and must be followed by taking action in its direction.
It does not take a quantum physicist to tell you that of course I was never going to become an author when I had given up writing all together!
So great! I’m out of the mud, (or getting out anyway) and I’m starting to recognize I have some power here. What now?
Next in the series: Taking a Look Around and Picking a Mountain.
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