Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Way Things Work

When I was a little girl (okay, I’m pretty short, so I will amend that to say, when I was a younger little girl), I had such expectations about the way life would be, the things that would come easily and the existence of the right path for every person.  While I do still believe in a right path for every person—and no two right paths are the same—I’ve seen the power and price of expectations (and have written several blog posts to prove it).  Today, and for the past few weeks, I have been thinking about expectations.  Dear friends have been struggling with loss lately, losses so massive as to be beyond any expectations anyone would have for life.  Loss of loved ones.  Loss of a child who was so vivid and alive and then suddenly gone.  For a person who doesn’t have children, I recognize the limitations in my understanding about what that kind of loss truly means, but I know it is huge, breath stealing, and horrible.  And yet, I am watching my friend celebrate her son, remind us of all of the joy he was capable of bringing, not just to family members but all who witnessed his verve, his delight in the wackiness of life—he left a mark on us all, a good one.

No one expects to lose like that—we wouldn’t be able to exist if we did.  We all know how incredibly fragile life is, but our losses must take us by surprise, even the ones we see coming.  Our lives are patterns, connections, some wonderful, some involving great effort, and some unhealthy.  One of the most beautiful aspects of my life is that I had the opportunity several years ago, to move away from everyone I know and love, and all of the patterns of my life.  This opportunity gave me the chance to examine my life on the dark nights when I struggled with being far away from family, friends, and old patterns.  On the other side of darkness, was the light of choices.  I changed.  I grew.  I wrote.

When all of my unhealthy patterns fell away, I found my voice to write and these fingers of mine have barely slowed as I near my fifth year of writing mostly full time.  I have written many books, many versions of many books, and have published two books with a third and fourth coming out this year.  I found my place in this world as a writer, a self-published one (which was never how I thought this journey would go).  A friend recently asked me if I would ever query again—ever pursue traditional publishing—and I said I don’t know because there is something amazing about creating a book that is entirely your own.  I don’t mean to diminish the valuable support provided by the big publishers (I wish I hadn’t had to learn to build an ebook... still my least favorite part of the publishing process), but what editors and designers give to authors, I have found through friends and critique partners, a slew of people who care about me and support my goals.  I have a team and feel that, rather than a self-published author, I am a community-published author.  My friends have purchased copies of my books to give to school libraries, a coworker’s daughter invited me to talk at the high school she teaches at (I will post more about that soon), and my critique partners have read my books, slashing them through to make them better.

My path doesn’t look at all like I thought it would, but had I had the ‘dream’ publishing experience, I never would have known this feeling I carry with me all the time now, the rightness of being an indie author, the gratitude for every person who reaches out to say that they are connecting with my books and excited for the series to continue.  Days ago, a woman I knew twenty years ago reached out to tell me she had devoured my books and is currently a principal at a middle school that will now have my books on its shelves.  Another reader wrote to me with a song suggestion that was so incredibly right for a character that I was choked up listening to it and have included it on the playlists for book 3 and book 4.  Being an indie makes each one of the connections more powerful.  There is no one between readers and the author in indie publishing and that suits me.  That is the path I was supposed to find while bumping my head against the traditional publishing model.  I don’t know if I will ever not be an indie at heart and as I put out the rest of this series and get ready to start another series next year, I will be on the lookout for where I belong at any given time.  Because that is the real lesson I have learned in all of this, to be grateful for every moment we have in this life, because life is short and nothing guaranteed.

Children sometimes die.  Illness and hardship find us.  But we are always better for the moments we have and those we share our moments with.  We are better for the love we gave even when those we love are gone.  Because the truth is, no one is ever really gone because the connections we make transcend time and space, life and death.  My grandfather lives every time I remember his kind eyes.  My uncle Jimmy lives every time I remember his wicked smile.  My friend’s son will live forever and will never stop making us laugh, because boy could that little man dance.  Best of all, I believe that heaven is a great adventure that never ends, a place where we will all be reunited.  I will meet Sully there someday, and I’ll be sure to be wearing Hulk-themed pajamas (with footies—and yes, I think footie pjs are  heaven-appropriate clothing).  And I will be ready to dance.

Thanks Sullivan “Sully” Mainor for shining so brightly, you left the world bathed in light.

Quote for the day from Patty Griffin

“We shall all be reunited,
in that land beyond the skies”

1 comment:

Jemi Fraser said...

So very, very sorry to hear about Sully. There is no greater heart ache. My thoughts and sympathy go out to you and his parents/family. Hang on to those treasured memories.

Our life paths are always evolving and changing and growing. Mine isn't what I expected it either - but I like it! :)