So here’s a crazy thing that happened.
I stopped really producing much of anything writing-related after August. I got really good at journaling, because that was the only way I could think of to process how I felt about getting dumped, moving out of my house, and watching my book wither and die–that, and to write the first half of a contemporary romance novel I have yet to finish.
You’d think that period of not producing anything would have set me back as a writer; that stepping back for a while would cause some doors to close for me. But there’s no one right way to reach your final destination. The old adage about “one step back, two steps forward” is sometimes true.
During the process of losing the book (and all the other crap), I learned the real power of the support network I’d built here in Portland. My writer friends called me, came to see me, hugged me, mothered me (looking at you, Heidi). They offered up their own resources to help get me out of my book pickle. They were utterly fantastic. Even strangers came to me with advice and support and ideas. I met many new people I might never have connected with otherwise.
Let me tell you something about Portland: this is the best place to live as a budding writer. It’s cheap to live here compared to other literary hubs (LA, New York), and the ratio of writers-to-normal-people is insanely high, but the population is so much smaller here than in other places that the community is still easy to get into, open, and accepting. It hasn’t become a club yet, where only published authors are allowed entry. The published and unpublished alike get together, eat dessert, and swap ideas. It’s brilliant and beautiful. (And that is a whole other post.)
During those hell weeks, I met some very important people. People who, months later, once I’d picked up the pieces of myself and put them all back together, came to me with a great new opportunity. It’s still a secret, but boy, is it a good secret. I’m writing something I’ve never written before–something I would never have tried had not someone asked me to try it.
I know it’s a little silly, maybe even childish, to believe in destiny. But that doesn’t change the fact that I do. There are some things that I just know, deep down in my gut, will come to pass at some point in the future. I know that certain writer friends of mine are going to be famous; I can feel it in my tendons. And the funny thing about a destiny, about a dream, is that your path to get there is never the same as someone else’s.
So I’m learning to be less afraid of divergences; to look at stumbling blocks as a way to build and learn, rather than feel set back by them. Being successful at anything requires a degree of failure, and the key is to never let failure stop you from doing what you want to do. Failures can even open doors for you that a success couldn’t.
Sometimes you have to stumble quite a ways down a particular path to realize it won’t get you where you want to go. Pursuing a dream is all about eliminating possibilities, eliminating choices, until you find the right one. Have you ever started a book and realized it just wasn’t working for you? I have, a dozen times. And each time I learn something new about myself, my style, and my stories.
Even if something doesn’t work out, at least you tried it. You have the experience. You better know the bad from the good.
As life as it is in writing. (Is that my new motto? I think that might have to be my new motto.)
What failures have you had that were blessings in disguise?