I hit a new peak in my writing – and in my life – sometime last year. It was like I had been climbing a mountain and didn’t realize I was in a foggy haze. Then, somehow, I came out of that fog and realized I was on the top of a mountain. I could see everything around me. I could see the peaks I had reached in years past. I could see other mountains off in the distance, even higher than the one where I was standing.
What was this peak?
For me, it was several things in succession. First, it was about the stories I wanted to write. I think the easiest way to describe it is that instead of holding a manuscript in my hands made of stone with a chisel pounding out the words, I was holding a piece of putty. It resembled a book – a manuscript – but instead of something completely solid, it was almost fluid. I saw it as a story, not a book, not a novel. It was something that flowed along the lines of storytelling rather than pounding out something called a book. I realized for the very first time how fluid this putty was in my hands – how I could pull pieces off and reshape them, how I could pound it flat, roll it into a scroll or a ball or a pyramid. It was three-dimensional. It was so much more magical than a pile of papers called a book.
You can delete scenes. Change characters. Cut chapters. Change the ending. Throw in a new beginning. You can rewrite the entire freaking book without even a second thought because you have that confidence and power that the story will work no matter what you do to that piece of putty in your hands.
When I realized all this about my writing, a new chapter in my life began, as well. I started down one peak and started hiking up to another. The fog drifted down below – and it has yet to permanently rise back up to where I am. It’s a nice feeling. It opened a door to me realizing that nothing in my life has to be set in stone, either. Most decisions I make are malleable. If I’m unhappy anywhere at any point, there are always choices before me. A good friend of mine once told me if she’s unhappy with a publishing house, she’ll move on to somewhere else. If she wants a new agent, she can get another one. If at any point writing and publishing makes her miserable, she will stop and find something else in her life to make her happy because I certainly hope none of us are so one-dimensional that only one thing in life can make us happy.
That is freeing.
I love the poster up above. I saw it on Facebook the other day, and it reminded me of this moment I had last year when I realized that I do have the power at any given moment to say THIS CAN CHANGE and it will not hurt me or the story or my life if I do not let it.
It’s an amazing thing to take charge of your own career and life with courage. Sometimes I forget this and fall into a pit of suckiness. I trip on a rock and black out for a second, or I let that fog curl around my eyes for a moment, but I get out a lot faster than I used to.
So I don’t know if anything I can say can get you to the top of that mountain faster if you haven’t already reached it. I don’t know if any of this makes sense. I just know that grasping my power as a storyteller has made all the difference in my attitude about life and writing. I hope you can experience something similar if you haven’t already. Understanding that your life and the stories you’re creating aren’t set in stone is an amazing thing. It allows you to view more clearly those other peaks you may one day reach – which will never be easy, but definitely worth it. It’s my hope that none of us ever underestimate that power.