Straight A’s in Life?

You know how someone can say something and — kapow! — it’s like a verbal two-by-four upside the head? This just happened to me, and I’d like to thank J– at Home Comfort Zones for the good-natured head bashing. 

Here’s the context: I’m sick (again) and self-medicating with leftover antibiotics, naval oranges, and “Sex and the City” marathon runs. All told, this week I’ve spent many more hours alone than usual. I have a large capacity for alone-time — what writer doesn’t? — but there’s a point of diminishing returns:

       too much alone time = every possible neurotic thought

So, there’s that. Then there’s good old Home Comfort Zones (HCZ), a start-up company. I’m the freelance go-to girl for HCZ’s user manual and other documentation needs. This afternoon I met up with J– to talk about documentation updates. Business concluded, he then asked me as he always does: How’s the writing going? As we were talking I realized that he’s one of my top supporters. Simply put, he’s rooting for me.

Perspective adjustment #1: There are oodles of people out there rooting for me and rooting for my novels. I’m not nearly as alone on this path of mine as I sometimes feel I am.

Our conversation continued with my admission that as a result of too much alone-time, I felt myself succumbing to fear that went something like this: I still rent; I don’t have family money or husband money to back me up; I don’t have assets to speak of; who knows what may happen with book publishing in general and my place within it specifically; what the heck am I doing?

That’s when J– said, “Hey, you’re doing what you love and you’re paying the bills, so I’d say you’re doing great.”

Perspective adjustment #2: Okay, I don’t remember exactly what he said after the second comma in the previous statement, but it was that kind of sentiment. A wake-up call: No-duh, Lisa, you’re one of the lucky ones!

I’ve had various so-called careers, and I’d say I sucked at nearly all tasks that weren’t writing-related, which is hard for me to admit because I was always the girl going after straight A’s.

In reality, there are no straight A’s in life, are there? And by which random criteria do we rate our proximities to 4.0s? According to the typical external measures of success, I might be in the C- range. But when I compare myself to twenty-something me? Yee gads, I’ve come a long way from the black-clad party girl who had no clue what she wanted to do in life much less the moxie to go for it.

Sometimes personal success is more about the internals than the externals. Talking to J– reminded me of this. And, nice person that he is, he said he was sure I’d get published.

J– also reminded me that I owe him a personal phone call when my novel sells. Not a group email message, not a notification through this blog, but a phone call. And he’s right.

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4 thoughts on “Straight A’s in Life?

  1. After a slew of recent rejection slips and many hours of wondering how I ended up in this funny writing life, I completely relate to your post. But your friend is right. You are, undoubtedly, a success. Those who try to convince you otherwise are just jealous.

  2. Thanks so much for saying that! And I turn the sentiment back on you! I remember when you first submitted to the critique group — kinda hesitant about whether you could write a short story at all. Now you’ve got an MFA and a novel under your belt!

  3. I’ve always admired your dedication to your writing. I definitely think you’re a success in that regard. So many people (me included) just talk and dream about doing what they love, but not many actually do it. Don’t measure yourself by the shallow, consumer-driven standards of our society–it’s a dead end.

  4. Jim! You’re out there in the world! Is winter doing for you what it had been for me? I’ve been thinking about the gang lately, especially now that spring feels close at hand…Happy hour?

    Thanks for the supportive words; I appreciate them.

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