This has been a doozy of a year for me, where I went from writing fan-fiction and unpublishable short stories—constantly agonizing over my future as a lawyer—to signing a four-book deal with a major publisher and deciding to quit the law—for now—to write full time. Never could have predicted it. Not in a million years.
And you know what? Despite all the profound changes that have occured, my life really doesn’t feel all that different. It’s true, the old saying: no matter how things change, some things will always stay the same. I’m still me. I’m just on a different path now. I am very happy and very blessed, and though I am certain that the coming year will have its low points as well as its high, I am determined to rise to whatever occasion confronts me, and—as Joseph Campbell would say—joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world.
Of course, it would not be completely accurate to insist that I’m exactly the same person I was this time last year. Last December 31st, I was probably angsting over my future, feeling sorry for myself. Boo-hoo, Marjorie. Yeah, what a horrible life you’ve got. You’re a lawyer, you’ve got a roof over your head, and your family loves you. Suck it up, you little whiner. You’ve got a great life.
I did have a great life. Thing is, my life is better now, doing what I love. There’s no more uncertainty about the path I’m on. I know I’m doing the right thing. Which isn’t to say that I don’t angst anymore. I do, except this is the good kind of anxiety, like: “I need to write a bigger and better book,” or “I need to finish this proposal for a new novel” or “Shit! What’s supposed to happen next and oh golly my deadline is only two weeks away!” I love this stress. And yeah, maybe I’ll have to go back to a job that is law-related, but at least I have this. At least I’m following my dream.
So here are some honest-to-God-lessons-in-action that I’ve learned this year:
1. I don’t care how poor or downtrodden you are, if you want something bad enough, you can make it happen. It’ll take time and hard work—plenty of guts and maybe some luck—but stick it out, and you can make it happen.
2. Do NOT listen to the people who say your dreams are impossible. How the hell do they know what you’re capable of? Nothing is impossible (not unless you’re clinically insane and believe that it’s possible to sprout wings and fly with the proper combination of eclipse, blood sacrifice, and incantation—and even then, who knows?).
3. Your dreams will not come true if you simply sit on your backside and think about it real hard. This is a follow-up to number one, but it’s important. Astronauts don’t get to space merely because they want to. It takes years of incredibly hard work, both academic and physical, and even then those men and women might not make the cut. It’s the same with being a writer. How did I get to be a published writer? I wanted it real bad, and I stuck myself in a chair for about fourteen hours a day, every day, until I finished my book. And then I kept sitting in that chair, revising. And revising. And revising. And by that time, the chair and my ass had become so enamored with each other, that I kept sitting, and kept writing, and kept doing all kinds of research into proper submission formats and manuscript preparation, so that when I finally turned in my book, I would look like a professional. And you know what? I’m still sitting. In fact, I’m sitting so much I really need to go on a diet or get on an exercise machine, because the only parts of my body that are lean just happen to be my hands, because they’re just typing typing typing like crazy.
4. You can talk yourself into failure. Don’t kill the things you love. That’s stupid. I mention it, though, because I’ve seen it happen, and it’s easy to tell yourself that nothing is going to work out because Oh God, why should it. And what I’m saying is that’s a load of crap. Why should you predict your own doom, when you can just as easily predict your success?
5. Be happy. Life’s too precious not to appreciate it.
So there you go. I’ve got a bunch more to say, but it can wait. Here is to a joyous, productive, and most excellent New Year. I wish all of you the very best.