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.