Jealousy v. Success

This question has been posed twice in the last week: What will I do if one of my friends gets published before I do?

The honest-to-God truth is that I’ll be fine. I’ll even be happy for them.

This sounds like I’m giving the “right” answer rather than the “honest” answer. My mother and I had a pretty lengthy discussion where she didn’t believe me at first, but I convinced her in the end.

Here’s the deal: I am friends with amazing, talented people who are all working towards the same goal. We all want to be authors. We all have a need to share our philosophies with the world. We’re all weird, and we’ve all taken turns being “the next one” who might get published.

I’ve worked for this for 12 years, rewriting the same story over and over and over. One of my friends has been piddling around with a couple of ideas for about 10 years and finally settled on one focus a couple of years back, but hasn’t put a single word on paper yet. What if he gets published two years from now and I have to wait another five? That’s okay.

Patience is a magical virtue that some people really can’t grasp. One colleague ripped into me about not chasing my dreams–“You’re not going to get published if you don’t start working toward it.” I waited for her to let it all out (took approximately 10 minutes; that was a test of patience right there) before I told her that I had in fact finished the novel twice and rewritten it because of feedback gained from others. I had moved 1500 miles to study my other settings. I had gotten specific jobs and studied specific disciplines just to improve my writing. She didn’t realize how thoroughly my 12 years had been dedicated to this craft because she can’t grasp the concept of patience.

That patience is why I’ll be okay. I might get upset for a minute, an hour, a day, but in the end it doesn’t matter. Someone else’s success doesn’t detract from mine. Hell, if one of one my friends moves forward faster than I do, he can start dropping my name.

I believe in a world built on “my success is your success and your success is my success.” I don’t adhere to an “I deserve this more than that other person” mentality–anymore. I did for a long time and it got me nowhere. It got me further from Nowhere; I actually went backwards. It took me about six years to pull my head out of my ass and see how immature I was being.

If you put in the work, you deserve success. It’s not up to me to decide who gets there first.

What is “Happy?”

A picture came across my Reader this morning that stuck with me the entire day. It took me back to that commitment I made on January 1st to just be myself. Up to today, all I’ve figured out this year is Pottermore was correct when it put me in Slytherin rather than Ravenclaw. A close friend told me, “Imma drag yo’ ass to church and you’re going to sit at the alter for the whole service and pray,” after I made some (*ahem* questionable) comments about an acquaintance’s predicament. Twice.

Right, the picture.

(Can we really appreciate for the moment that she said she was going to drag my ass to church, though? I sat at my desk and cackled. That sentence was easily the most appropriate thing we (including one of my new hires) said all morning. If I needed to sit at the alter and pray, my dear friend needed to be right there with me, along with a bottle of soap, some holy water, and whatever else can be used for cleansing.)

So the picture.

The message itself is relatively succinct:

Be happy
Be yourself
If others don’t like it, then let them be.
Happiness is a choice.
Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.
Do what is right for you.

(original post here)

I can’t get the words out of my head, which is okay. It’s a powerful message. I sat for a few minutes and thought about what that could mean for me. The first thing that floated into my consciousness surprised me: be happy/be yourself = find a job as an editor.

This notion has been tickling the back of my mind for quite some time now. I’m proficient with technology to the point that a degree in Computer Engineering and a job in IT is my obvious path. My family background even supports that: granddad was a self-taught civil engineer; mom & uncle are/were self-taught software developers; cousin worked for Apple at one point. By comparison, my little sister is the “technologically-challenged” one, and she can still talk circles around some of our IT guys. I come from a family of mathematically-minded nerds. Hell, my first degree path was Mathematics, and I can rapidly learn anything with a logical pattern. My genetics predestined me for engineering or IT or architecture, all of which I love.

And then there’s writing.

I don’t like to write on a deadline. It stresses me out. Deadlines are great, except that I’m a procrastinator and I will develop an ulcer at some point. Writing on a deadline is out of the question for me. As a novelist, I’m going to be like Patrick Rothfuss — you waited 20 years for the first book, you can wait 20 years for the third.

I will need an extremely patient agent/publisher.

(The book linked above, by the way, is on my list of “I can’t date you if ___”: you haven’t read that book. Thank you, Twitter, for helping me define what I want in my relationships. #icantdateyouif #relationshipgoals)(#kylorenshair)

[2 hours later–had to visit Twitter for a play-by-play of the Cards/Panthers game. Dear Carson, you will recover, I promise.]

Where was I?

Writing. Right.

I love writing, but I love reading as much or more. I avidly read blogs about character development, world-building, grammar & word usage, etc. I’m a terrible snob when it comes to reading emails at work. I’d like a full-time job as an email copy-editor in my department: all emails come through me before they go anywhere else. Seriously, there is no space before the period. There is never a space before the period EXCEPT when using ellipses. Also, spell check is a beneficial habit if one prefers to avoid looking like a complete bonehead.

(#petpeeves)

(I have no idea how or why I started thinking in hashtags again; I thought I broke that habit when I ditched Facebook last year. To Twitter’s credit, hashtags are the closest thing humankind has to a sarcasm font.)

Horrendous emails aside, I love reading diamond-in-the-rough novels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a novel and thought, “Oh, but if she’d just fleshed out this character a little more,” or “How exactly was that supposed to fit into the plot?” or “Who allowed this sentence to be published?”

I am a terrible beta reader because I go in-depth with every aspect of a novel. Give me a character and I will ask you questions you can’t answer. Taylor just had this experience a week ago. He showed me a drawing of a character whose hairstyle didn’t fit with her culture. I asked why. He said “because,” and then really thought about it. Once he realized why her hair was different, the plot started coming together. Even a haircut can add dimensions to the world itself.

Editing. Critiquing. These make me happy.  Maybe this is what “be yourself” means for me in the grand scheme of things.

tl;dr: Just read the bolded stuff.

Surviving

I am entirely unnerved right now.

The last few weeks have been an interesting rollercoaster. Everything dived when my meds stopped working, but I’ve balanced out. I’m better off than I was before. I was even able to spend a few days alone without losing control of my emotions or my impulses.

Then again, most people might consider a last-minute 4-day trip to Boston a bit of an “impulsive” decision. Hey, it was fun and I survived. I call that highly successful.

I read 20 1/2 books in the month of November. I’ve read 2 more since yesterday. Yes, they have all  been young adult and middle-grade novels, but they are all about overcoming impossible odds and surviving. Since the Paris attacks a couple of weeks ago, surviving has been on my mind.

A government facility in San Bernadino was attacked a few hours ago. State-side, things are slowly escalating. Internationally, things are escalating a bit faster.

It makes me wonder if we are prepared for our overseas conflicts to cross our borders.

 

Saying Goodbye

I’m going to be pretty brief today.

My lost friend came home this week. We met up last night to talk, which started out fine enough. We got past the initial awkwardness and fell back into the easy friendship we’ve always had. We spent four hours wandering, talking, and crying.

We decided that maintaining a normal friendship isn’t possible. The chemistry we have is too intense, he’s moved on, and I can’t be “just friends” with him. So we agreed to the only thing that will make it easier in the long run: we agreed to never see or contact each other again.

The parting was amicable, but I’ve never felt more like I was being ripped apart. I drove to work, thinking about personal experiments I’ve done to test my limits. I considered other ways of testing my limits, ways that wouldn’t end well.

I told my mentor about the decision this morning when she came in. She and I sat in the office and cried together for half an hour. She’s been through this, personally and with her daughters. She asked me what I said to him. I answered that I told him everything that might make a difference. I didn’t want the chance of running into him 20 years from now and saying those things and having him respond, “If only you had spoken up.”

We parted on the words, “Until I see you again,” knowing there’s a very good chance that will never happen.

No Thinking Allowed

Day 6 (Sunday)

Still ups and downs today. Obsessive behavior, trying to keep it under control but temptation is always there . . . so back to the television, back to the distractions. Keeps me from thinking.

Ideally, tomorrow will bring a call from the psychiatrist, and the opportunity to move forward with professional help.

I’m looking forward to my days off. Tuesday and Wednesday . . . I don’t know what I’m going to do those days, but I’m imagining a beach, the sea breeze, and freedom from myself, my thoughts, my mistakes, my problems.

Freedom from the reality that right now, the only thing holding me together is a 6-year-old teddy bear.

IMG_4280 (2)