Good things have happened in my life in 2014, especially as a writer. Things I have worked hard to make happen. But there seems something else afoot too. I’m a great believer in the notion that when you are ready to meet people you need to meet or when you need to experience certain things, those people and things enter your life. Openings happen. Our job is to recognize those openings and be ready to walk through.
In the past, I found writing mentors at conferences and workshops who managed to give me just the lessons I needed when I was ready to take advantage of them. I also sometimes found teachers who challenged my thinking, took me down a peg or two. Though initially this tough love came as a tremendous blow, I managed to find the opportunity built into the situation, and became even more determined to change that person’s mind, to, in essence, prove them wrong, win them over. Say, through my work, yes, I faltered here, made a rookie mistake, but it is not the end of the journey. I am bigger than this, and I will show you.
When I decided, in my fifties, to pursue my MFA in creative writing, that step alone was a leap of faith. Like any new graduate student, I wasn’t sure how my work would stack up compared to other writers. I was afraid I might be the only person over 30 in the program. I was afraid I would fail at being a student. I was afraid that even if I made it through and graduated, I might not be able to carry the momentum forward to truly make a difference in my writing career. Notice a theme here? Fear.
Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being a one hit wonder. But honestly, after the things my family and I went through in 2012 and 2013, none of those writing fears seem to weigh very much any more. Losing loved ones, watching the people you care about suffer, tends to put a lot of other stuff in perspective. I have learned to find joy, yes joy, in every small victory, in the serendipitous moments, in the fated meetings, and the sudden bursts of glory surely smiled upon by guardian angels.
This week, I was able to share one of those bursts of glory with the people I care about. One of the projects that became part of my creative thesis during my MFA years, was awarded a Work-in-Progress grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. This is the big apple, folks. I am deeply grateful, and will use the grant to move my career forward. This is one of those openings, one of those gifts the universe sometimes doles out, and trust me, I am paying attention.
But as good as the grant is (and it is HUGE), probably the best thing about it has been the outpouring of love I have received from family and friends. The very best: being with my Dad on the day SCBWI put out the press release and seeing his reaction as my phone started going crazy with calls, texts, emails, and Facebook messages of congratulations. And then him bursting into tears of happiness and pride tinged with sadness because my Mom couldn’t be there to celebrate also.
But I think my Mom is celebrating. My son too. We are all energy. Spiritual beings humming around in human form. They may not be on earth with me any more, but they are with me every day as I write, as I dream, as I mourn, and as I celebrate. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the concept of such deep, ongoing sorrow living side-by-side with transcendent joy, but it is a reality. Life is large, mysterious, full of doors and windows opening and shutting all the time.
What wonders are calling you?