Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuesday Introspective

So I was thinking on Tuesdays which tend to be thoughtful days, I'd like to talk about things that people said that had the most impact on my life. Only with age have I truly learned the power of language and how it can affect a person's life, perhaps even the course of their life. Of course it isn't only what was said but how we respond to it that makes the greatest impact. And that is an important lesson because we can't control the things that people say to us, but we can control how we let it affect us.

Today I am thinking back a couple of years in the last week of my old job. I had given notice months ago and yet there was still so much to do, I was lingering in my old job until I finally had had enough and was making it clear I was leaving. I was talking to a colleague whom I shall refer to as Tony, because that is his name. So Tony was asking me what I planned on doing now that I was really quiting. He knew I had been working on my book for the past 5 years so I told him that I planned on taking a year to finally finish my book and try to get it published and because I had so many other ideas for books, perhaps if I was lucky I could make a career out of being a writer. His response was to roll his eyes, guffaw and say "Yeah, right! Keep dreaming!" You know it's funny but for a long time after he said that, I kept dreaming about this same conversation but instead of me shrugging it off, in my dream I keep punching him in the mouth.

Eventually, I stopped dreaming about punching him in the mouth and instead dreamt about actually publishing my book to great acclaim and inviting him to my book lauch party and laughing in his face while waving a stack of hundreds in his face. So unrealistic, I know, but I was dreaming, like he told me to. To some extent his disbelief in my ability fueled me to complete my book as much as my husband's terrific support in allowing me to stay home, helped me to achieve my goal. One positive and one negative all pushed me in the same direction. My husband kept encouraging me to finish, the negative comment gave me the anger to not give up. I finished my book back in June and have been editing ever since. I'm on what I hope is my final edits and plan to begin querying agents in the next month or so. There were so many moments that I nearly gave up. Who was I kidding? What agent or publisher would want my book? Who would ever want to read a World War II military drama about two soldiers written by a girl? All the positive encouragement of my husband and my writer's group would be a great help, of course, but sometimes just seeing Tony's smug face and hearing his mocking voice gives me the extra incentive to keep going. So the moral of the story has been that there is actually something positive that can be taken from the negative. And one day, who knows, maybe the dream will become a reality.

So please share with me those things, positive or negative, that has had an impact on you.


Anonymous said...

First -- CONGRATULATIONS on finishing your book and going such a long way toward realizing your dream. I am rooting for you!

Second -- I suppose something my father said to me no long before he died has had a bigger impact on me than nearly any advice I'd been given before or since. I had always been very impulsive and driven and I'd developed a "do something, even if it's wrong" mentality; it was part of the fast paced, problem solving culture I grew up in. He told me, "when in doubt, don't". I'd never approached problems in that way, but have since found that almost every time I've had a problem or concern that really nagged at me and I was unsure what to do -- doing nothing and waiting for the right answer to come has worked.

Anonymous said...

It's 1:30 AM and I just finished 6 hours of straight copy editing, so I am in no shape to provide useful examples of what you asked for. But I did want to say that at least one person I know wants to read a WWII drama about two soldiers written by a girl - me. I hope that one day you will send the document my way when my schedule slows down a bit. And if not then I will just have to wait to pick it up at B&N. Actually, I noticed a few days ago that, not surprisingly, the WWII miltary history shelf is huge here in Honolulu, and you should put us on your book tour. I can get a signed copy then.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lisa! And I love what your father said because I too sometimes have a hard time giving up once I have taken a course of action. I think it is smart to take a step back and not waste time going down the wrong path.

Paca - I'm such a sap! You made me tear. Thank you! I'd love for you to read my book and part of my dream is that I can go to Hawaii (which I've never been) for part of my book tour. I'll keep dreaming!

Anonymous said...

The Anti-Wife has an Anti-Muse - her mother - sitting on my shoulder telling me what a disappointment I am and how much more I could have done with my life. It's actually quite motivating.

Anonymous said...

AW, I love my mom, of course, but she has been so unhappy with the course I have taken and just tries to block out what I'm doing. All she wants to hear is that I've gone back to being a lawyer, which I'm still not ready to do. Did it for 15 years and am tired of it, you know? So I know how troubling it can be to have to bear the load of guilt and disappointment. Luckily for me, my father has been the counterbalance, supporting me to succeed. We have to take our motivation from whereever we can and sometimes the best motivation is the one where you dream about proving them all wrong!

Anonymous said...

ello, you go girl...i am extremely proud of you and what you have accomplished so far (i can't wait for this book to be printed already). i can totally relate to an unhappy parent. if my mom had her way, i would have graduated from an ivy league and have become this big wall street exec who makes tons of money. but i am not and she doesn't love me any less but she does make the remarks from time to time. i have always dreamed of owning my own business (particularly a restaurant). and if one day that does happen for me, i have a fiance who is totally supportive of this and that means a lot to me. it's good to have people who are there for you.

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