Years ago, in an attempt to tame a dramatic spirit (yes, many artistic people lean towards drama), I made a ‘five day rule’ pact with myself. I have applied the five day rule to anything life altering: response to a disagreement or anger, decision about a new job, dissatisfaction with a product or service…the list goes on and on. There are times that I am so angry, I have to write the letter immediately–gotta get that angst out of my soul–but I still do nothing with it for at least five days. It is often shocking to find how much my feelings have changed in five days. I almost always tear up (or delete) the letter.
Sometimes, I find that I need to allow things to stew a bit longer than five days. If you think about how many things affect the way we react to something, it makes good sense. How many times have you reacted badly to something simply because you had a bad day? I am both a cautious person and compulsive planner by nature.
I have spent seven days reflecting upon my writer’s cruise and what it all means to me and for me. I feel like I learned more in those five days at sea than I could have learned in five years of classes (although I would probably still attend the classes because I LOVE TO LEARN!). I met like-minded people who were impressive as heck, not only in their writing abilities but also in their ability to pursue and manage a fledgling writing career while maintaining a regular job in the regular world plus their familial relationships.
I think we all possess, to some degree, this rosy dream that when one gets published, they strike it rich and live happily ever after. I was able to see first hand that writing as a career choice is a lot of hard work–not just for the author, but then for the agent and then for the publisher. It is a huge chain of believing and selling and hard work. It is no wonder that agents and publishers have to be so selective. Their livelihood depends upon a great book too. And even if they find a great book, they still have to figure out a way to get that great book into the hands of readers. I gained so much respect for their positions.
As I gained realization of the ‘process,’ it occurred to me that each step requires someone evaluating how much they are willing to sacrifice. I guess that is often the question when faced with a life decision. How much are you willing to sacrifice to make it happen?
In the past couple of years, I have watched my loved ones make many decisions of sacrifice. Two years ago, my youngest daughter made the decision to move to Pittsburgh to marry the man of her dreams–a man who made it clear from day one he would not be willing to leave that area, ever. I now see her misery in living so far from her family–and how that misery now affects her marriage to the love of her life.
Last year, I watched another daughter purchase a new van because her little Yaris was not going to fit her growing family of [now] 3 little boys. It was a great purchase–a necessary purchase–but one that required her to add work hours to allow for the additional payment. I now see her desire to spend more time with her sons, but the necessity of a bigger vehicle to tote them around took away some of that time. We are forced to make these trade-offs in life and in order to do that, we must weigh the importance of things.
So I now look at my life–this admittedly great life–and wonder how much I am willing to sacrifice in order to see my beloved novel in print. While I did have two agents and 1 publisher ask to read the full manuscript, words I never thought I’d hear in my entire life that buoyed my spirit to new heights, there is still no guarantee they will like it enough to take it to the next step. I guess this is the back-up planner in me speaking. I always like to answer the ‘what if’ question in advance.
After a week of pondering, I have no concrete answer. Writing is almost a compulsion–I don’t actively try to think of things to write, the words simply refuse to be kept inside. If I don’t put them down on paper, they will swirl around in my mind, distracting me from fully participating in my daily life. I guess that is an answer of sorts, isn’t it?
Maybe sometimes, we can’t make a decision based upon logic and what ifs. Perhaps there are times in life when we just need to spontaneously go for it. No, we can’t really afford another child, but heart tells me I need one. No, we can’t afford to buy a bigger house, but we really need one. No, I can’t miss a week of work for vacation, but I really need one. Maybe logic and what ifs are just attempts to stay safe and control our world but the needs are what helps us grow. Maybe we need to leap in order to grow.
Although it won’t be easy for me, maybe this is my time to leap.