Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flexibility and Forward Motion

First, I want to shout out a huge thanks. Yesterday this blog received a Creativity Award from Elizabeth Spann Craig http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com/ . I dived into this blogger world after having heard that as a writer trying to get published, it was a good idea, and I was CLUELESS. Elizabeth has been like the north star--always showing the way, and offering light when I need it most, so a sincere thanks! I should also thank Galen Kindley http://www.galenkindley.com/blog/ , whose generosity and kindness have been truly appreciated. I’ve worked with graduate and medical students for the last nine years--not a ton of them, but a few each year. These are the best and the brightest, ardently pursuing careers they have long dreamed of. And you know what? When they finish, only about 30% are happy with where they ended up (the doctors more than the PhDs). Do you know why? They steadfastly followed the fastest route, and never paused to look at the path they were following. They were all about the endpoint, and forgot to pay attention to the lessons of the journey. People too stuck in their ways… get stuck… Digression: When my daughter was a baby, we were part of a playgroup, and in said playgroup was a little boy named Felix. At the time, I would sadly tell other friends, “yes, his name is Felix” and we’d all nod knowingly that the poor boy was destined to be beat up on the playground. In 2005, JK Rowling suddenly made ‘Felix’ cool again… Felix Felices, to be specific--liquid luck--right when this boy was 10 and could probably use it! My point? You never know what’s coming, and sometimes you can just grab on, but you don’t have that option if you are solidly glued to some rigid road. If we tie all our dreams to a single thing, the risk is too high. And frankly, we limit how high we might eventually soar. If we worry too much about what others think, and are set only on some final honor…. BEST SELLING AUTHOR... we might miss some of the gems that make us not just best selling, but thought provoking, or genre defining—the things that might make us the fodder for future literature classes. I’m suggesting we take a lesson from the old Felix Felices. When Harry takes it, he baffles his friends by deciding NOT to go to Slughorn, but down to help Hagrid bury Aragog. He is meandering flexibly, following what fate throws up for him, all the while keeping his goal in the back of his head. And he succeeds, but in a rich, rewarding way that forges a new friendship (Hagrid and Slughorn) and gives Harry some valuable memories about his mother. I suppose in a way, I am supporting the digressionary trails we take, because they can prove fruitful for the end goal, whether it is learning some new expertise, experiencing a fabulous ‘book situation’, meeting your next character, or meeting someone who might help you with the publishing process, but also because living our lives in all its aspects, and following whims, can only enrich us as writers and people.

7 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Well put, Hart. Sometimes when I speak to groups,people ask me why I spend time working on my blog and social media instead of writing (actually, I got this question only 2 weeks ago.) I've learned a tremendous amount from the online writing community...it's a smart diversion to make.

Every time I read that Potter book I think, "No Harry! That's not what you need to do after drinking the elixir. You're wasting it." Every time. Great example and reminder that shortcuts don't always work best.

And thanks so much for your sweet words....I really do appreciate them. Your award is well-deserved.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Well, if ever an award was well deserved, it’s this one for you, Hart. You are creative with a capital K, that’s for sure. Good job and congratulations. Thank you also for the very kind opening reference. I don’t know that to say…it’s very touching. One of my character’s has advice for situations like this, she tells an awkward friend, “Just smile and say thank you.” Consider that done.

I’m thinking Amen to your analysis of digression. As I age, I see the importance of life’s smaller events. Yes, the big ones are important, no doubt about it. But, it’s the smaller ones, like a subtle spice in the sauce, that really make life taste great. After all, to quote Jim Croce, “It’s what we’ve done, that makes us who we are.” The more digressions, the more we’ve done.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Joris said...

Ah, the mysterious ways of fate (she moves in Mysterious Ways after all -- sorry, rabid U2 fan here ;) ).

Over this summer I've started to learn to trust my instincts on stuff, mostly little stuff like "eh, this shop looks interesting, maybe they have that book I've been after" (: they usually do, though whether that is due to me making the effort to look for it or it being the better sort of shop, I don't know (yet)). But my current big project, the performing and filming of a Greek play from around 410 BC, also came out of "this looks interesting, let's just go for it and we'll see how far we come".

For me, I find life much more enjoyable when I just decide to go with the moment, do the interesting things, and let the big puzzle of causality fall together of its own accord.

Ultimately nothing is fixed, and the pieces of the puzzle can be put together in more than one way to form a coherent, and complete, and satisfying picture. Sure, I might have to do some things here and there to flesh out the image, things that aren't always enjoyable, but right now I am just sitting back a little, and let life go its own course.

This takes the form of letting my holiday fill itself with whatever comes up that looks interesting, but also just taking the courses in Uni that I like and not so much just those that I need for a degree. After all, it's all History, and my subjects will focus themselves on the field I find most interesting on their own accord, so I should end up with a list that already approximates the requirements for one of the majors or minors -- probably military history :)

Watery Tart said...

Elizabeth--I completely agree about the social networking and blogging stuff. I've learned things I had NO IDEA I needed to learn! It's nuts!

And thank you all of you for great comments! And Joris--I can't wait to see your finished product. I think it's so fabulous to have 3 Uni students taking on an ancient Greek play as a summer project!

Carnimire said...

Hey Tami, nobody deserves the award more than you do. Your blog is always a great read (as are Elizabeth's and Galen's).

And I just adore your FF reference. Sometimes, instincts know best. Maybe not always, but more times than not, what your gut feeling tells you is what really works out in the end. And as long as you are also having fun along the way, what more can you ask for?

Gaelgeoir said...

Tami I loved this entry, as it's really profoundly put and pretty damn deep!
It's pretty timely for me, too, as I'm heading to College/University(whatever you Americans call it!) next month. I just got accepted into Medicine yesterday- which is thrilling, but also a little daunting. Before I accepted the college's offer I was hit by a whirlwind of emotions when I realised that even though I LONGED to take this career path, and felt that I was highly suited to it, I was also terrified by the commitment it represented(the long hours, the stress, the constant upskilling, the occasional trauma)
In the end it all came down to instincts, and instinct told me to take what I was given :D
So call me a Healer, and show me to St.Mungo's!!
XD

Watery Tart said...

Natasha, thank you!

And Neil--I'm THRILLED for you and your medicine program! I wish you the very best of luck, and glad I hit a note that was timely for you!