Each of us follows the path through life we think we should take. Or want to take. Or forced to take. It varies, depending what we experience. Each event leads us to the next, which leads to the next and before we know it, we’re saying, “I never thought I could be a…or thought I could do…”
I never believed I could leave Montana. But I did. Yes, I missed it, but I was led to something else. A lot of something else’s. Never thought I’d finish college, get married or have kids. But I did. As a young person, I believed myself to be a ne’er do well black sheep. But the right people at the right time in my life made all the difference. I’ve been fortunate to have family and friends who’ve believed in me. It takes a village to be what you want to be and accomplish what you want to accomplish.
No one can do it alone.
Each of us has had a dream or a vision of what we wanted to be or do. For me, it was to be an author. I talked myself out of trying most of my life because it was safe—if I didn’t do it I couldn’t fail. Let’s face it—failure is a big fat scary monster in American culture. And let’s not even go there on Alaskan culture, because failure is not an option up here in our shaky, dark, cold subarctic world for a variety of reasons.
Each moment leads to the next. I was at work one day typing a memo in a Forest Service office in Missoula, when someone said, “Wanna be a firefighter?” I looked at them like they’d just sprouted dragon wings. “Yeah right,” I laughed. “You can do this,” said Marc Simenson (who became a USFS firefighter himself) A whole new world opened up, leading to a career with the Dept. of Interior in Alaska and a whole new world of adventure.
When I retired from the fed career, I thought, okay no more excuses. You’ve talked about the writer thing, now it’s time to walk the talk, baby! So I wrote a short story based on an experience I had fighting a fire in Interior Alaska. Anchorage Press published it and it won an Alaska Press Club award. Then a well-known Alaskan writer said, “You should write a novel and use this as the Dark Moment.”
I laughed when he said that. “Yeah right.”
Then I thought about it and acted on his suggestion. Had no idea what I was getting into. Writing a novel looks easy from the outside. Um, NO, it isn’t! It took me a year and a half, and until you go through the process, there’s no way to explain it. Every moment leads to the next. Didn’t believe I could finish it. But those who believed in me said don’t give up.
So I didn’t.
I finished that puppy, then tossed it from the litter box: Go be a Big Dog! I pitched, blurbed, queried and synopsized, sent manuscripts to agents & publishers. Rejections go with the territory of writing. Though I prepared myself, I cried like a baby and sucked my thumb when the NYC agent rejected it. But she explained why she passed and I was grateful because she still saw potential in the story and clued me how to fix it.
I’d dreamed of being an author since 6th grade at St. Pat’s School in Butte, when Sister Agnes Gertrude said, “You’re going to be a writer someday,” after giving me an ‘A’ on a poem I wrote about my dog. Thank goodness for my Alaskan writing community, my social media writing peeps, and relationships with published authors who’ve shared their own struggles and empathize while I’ve licked my rejection wounds.
“Step back, work on something new. Don’t give up, you can do this.” So, I’ve stepped back—with one big difference: My dream came true.
Even if this first novel doesn’t grow up to be a Big Dog, others that follow might. Once you’ve proven to yourself you can do something, the rest is easy–just like my main character, Blaze Waters, in Alaskan Spark. After that, you just DO IT. It only took a flipping lifetime to learn that.
Funny thing about dreams coming true. They calm you. You enter a new mindset—and it feels damn good.
Whatever happens from this moment on is icing on the cake. And it just doesn’t get any better than that.
“It’s GOLD for a writer, Jerry, GOLD!” —Seinfeld
© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2019, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.