I have a new friend I really like. She charmed me with a story of how her family was financially struggling and she thought to herself, "I'm going to lift us out of poverty by writing a novel."
I'm sure my jaw must have dropped when I heard this. Of all the naive and silly sentences I have casually uttered, this seemed like the height of unrealism. To think of writing, a career which my family goaded me into ditching because of it's extreme instability as the thing that will lift you out of poverty… I was gobsmacked.
Well, she ruthlessly put an outline together by performing an autopsy on a commercially successful book. She spent 12 weeks and wrote the first draft, then found an agent with only enough research that she said to me, "my story is about jewish culture so I need a jewish agent." She got the agent. She has sold 4 books to a major publisher in 11 months. Her first one comes out in a few months.
This story has realigned my concept of what is possible. That, along with a firm commitment to DOING are the tools I am using to dig myself out of where I'm currently stuck.
I will describe the place where I'm am currently stuck in case in your travels you happen along. It's a perfectly reasonable spot in the road. The land is flat, you can see for miles. I couldn't tell that at first, because I broke down in a terrible storm the likes of which I hope I never see again. There is a tree here which provides some shade during the intensity of the afternoon sun. What has busted me down is a divorce and a fairly typical reassessment of my life which I got as a package deal with the divorce. I have a pretty standard life in a lot of ways, kids and a house. Ok, it's a falling down on us hippie sort of house, but still it has possibility. I drove us all here with my intellect, and by looking around to see how everyone else was raising their families. I didn't want to raise my kids so far outside the mainstream that they wouldn't be able to fit in. I am not sure what I meant by that now.
Even six months ago if you had asked me to describe where I was I would have told you I was stuck in the crossroads. You know, the place the devil haunts looking for souls. I would have described what it is like there for you. It doesn't feel like I have moved, but the scenery keeps changing on me. It's getting more hospitable.
What I have discovered in hanging out beneath this shade tree broken down at the side of the road is that I don't want a standard life. I want an artistic life filled with possibility and creation. A life I was raised to believe is the worst kind of flakiness and also the path to eternal damnation.
But here is this charmingly flaky writer I have discovered. She has her head down, and she is writing her family out of poverty. I fully expect her to get movie deals. And there are other people I am starting to notice too. They are making it work in ways that don't look at all standard or even respectable. I'm starting to suspect that the walls I kept hitting in my life were related to the fact that I was building a life I didn't really want to live. Maybe the most realistic plan is the one you have the passion to pursue.