When I was a kid, I wanted to be a novelist. I didn’t give much thought to how I’d get there or how long it would take me. All I had in my head was that I would write a story and publish it.
Dreams are easy like that.
In reality, most of us average people actually have to work at something to make it even halfway decent. Success doesn’t happen because you want it bad enough. There are steps that need to be taken, lessons to be learned, disappointments to shoulder, dues that need to be paid.
The other day Beth posted a video celebrating 50,000 views on Limebird Writers. I wondered if in her dream of creating Limebird Writers she thought about the little steps she’d have to take to make Limebird a success. In her vision as she sat in the park, did she prepare for the milestone of 50,000 views? Was she surprised at the path Limebird took? (Yes, B, I want to know.)
I consider myself a planner, but in my dream to become a novelist I didn’t prepare myself for the small steps or the detours along the way. I mean, somewhere a little voice probably warned me this wasn’t going to be easy. But I know for sure that I didn’t ever imagine all the writing courses and conferences and seminars I’d take. I didn’t think I’d be publishing a short story first. I didn’t think I’d be a freelance editor/writing coach. I didn’t think I’d be teaching creative writing to kids.
But I sure thought I would have published my first novel by now.
When I was 20, I turned down a job offer as a copyeditor for a magazine because the job sounded “boring.” I didn’t make the connection that the job would give me an experience that would help me in the future. I was too set on my end-goal—to be a fiction writer—that I didn’t want to waste my “valuable” time editing someone else’s work.
A few years later, my writing aspirations didn’t pan out as I’d planned. I pretty much “crashed and burned” and quit writing.
I know now that I crashed and burned because I didn’t prepare myself for surprises and detours—those stepping stones. My mistake was setting my sights on one goal and one route toward that goal. Instead, I needed to recognize the process involved. I needed to realize that all worthy quests are not one straight path from point A to point B.
Worthy quests branch out, they encourage exploration, they offer challenges. They are chock-full of stepping stones, opportunities to learn and grow. Worthy quests may take us on detours, but if we embrace these seemingly inconsequential moments we will eventually arrive at our destinations.
And we’ll be thriving.
What are some of the stepping stones you’ve taken on your quest to be an author?