Here’s a pithy quote I read on a card the other day:
My greatest fear is that PMS does not exist
and that this is the real me.
There was a picture, too, of a slightly-crazed, intense-looking artsy-type woman sort of getting in your face.
Needless to say, I bought the card and am now looking for the perfect frame to put it in.
Some of my greatest life lessons happened in the past year. Here I am, about to turn 39 (birthday is 9/27 if anyone wants to send a card, flowers or chocolate), married to a great guy, mother of two great kids, living in Hawaii, first book published, co-owner of a very cool golf academy that people love, and I am just now learning to love the person staring back at me in the mirror.
I spent a nice chunk of my life making excuses for who I am or situations that I’m in- “I’m not normally this messy,” “I’m not normally this crazy,” “I’m not normally this nosy,” “I’m still battling those last 5-10 pounds,” “I’m not really that smart – anyone can do it,” … get out the violin! Perhaps one of the reasons I’m finally coming to terms with this is because I’m getting older and too tired to come up with excuses. I like to think it’s because I’m becoming more aware, more me.
So here’s how all this ties into this week’s topic: publication has been one of my greatest teachers this year. Sure, I have the teacher I’ll never forget (Joseph Mancini, my creative writing instructor at Georgetown University summer school, and possibly the only person who acknowledged that I had any sort of gift with writing), but the actual experience of publication has taught me A LOT.
As much as I love being published (I have an ISBN! I’m in the Library of Congress! People have actually read my books and like them!), I’ve accepted that it doesn’t define me. Okay, for a moment there I let it define me, but as with all things external, it never works to let things outside of you tell you who you are. Instead, it’s the other way around. This is who I am, and, among many other things, I write.
Next, if you’ve ever really wanted to grasp the concept of not giving a **** about what other people think, publication will pretty much help you get there. Does my editor love me? Do my friends think I’m a good writer? Will my local bookstore carry my books? Will my local bookstore re-order my books? Will my local bookstore hand-sell my books? What if my family hates my book and thinks I’m a lousy writer? Do the reviewers love me? Do they really, really love me? I’ll give you fair warning that it may take a while to buck this one, but in the span of 2-5 months (starting a month before publication), you’ll get an opportunity to turbo-charge through this issue.
And finally, if you’ve ever grappled with the question, “What should I do with my life?” and thought that publication would be the answer to that question, well, I’m here to say that maybe writing WILL be your life, but maybe not. Maybe it’ll be just a part of it, and that’s okay, too. It doesn’t mean you won’t be successful, or that you won’t hit the NYT Bestseller list or have your book made into a movie – all those things can definitely happen. But how fabulous would it be to have that AND everything else, too?
Now, I’m settling into my life and body, which includes, among other things, being an intense creative with occasional bouts of PMS (refer back to the card at the beginning of the post) as well as a published writer (okay, okay – it is still very cool). And I hope that your writing journey, regardless of where you are in it, leads you to some brilliant ah-ha moments, too.