“Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talent.” ~Nolan Ryan
What is change? What is adaptation? What meaning do they carry and what do they represent? The answers to those questions differ for everyone. Some view change as the unknown, some view it as daunting, and some view it as exhilarating. Some view adaptation as something negative, while others view it as something positive. Regardless of how you view these things, though, chances are that they’re going to play an important role in your life at some point and in some way. For some people, change is hard to accept. It’s difficult to step outside of our comfort zones. It’s difficult to embrace change and adaptation when that symbolizes unknown territory … but it’s also important to remember that sometimes that unknown territory can truly take you on the journey of a lifetime, if you only have an open mind and are willing to embrace the adaptations that can lead you along the path of success.
Success in and of itself is nearly impossible to define. It means something different for everyone, and that’s okay. No matter what your definition of success, though, it’s important to realize that accepting change and adaptation can often make you stronger. It can be hard sometimes. When you work on something so much, when it’s such an important part of who you are, it can be difficult to hear so many suggestions about ways you can or should change your “work of heart.” It can be nearly impossible to separate yourself from the situation and look at things objectively. When you find your passion in life, you so badly want to pursue it. When you find something that becomes a part of your heart and soul, it can be difficult when someone suggests you change something about it. It’s hard to think that someone is questioning your work … but the thing is, everything can ALWAYS be improved upon. Things can always be reworked and made better. Sure, not every suggestion or piece of advice will be one you can use. It’s important to consider every single piece of advice, though, as well as the source it came from. If you’re lucky enough to have an amazing support system, as I do, then you know that those suggestions and advice are coming from a place of caring, from a place of people genuinely wanting to help and to do all they can to help you make your dreams come true. Sure, you’re going to get suggestions and commentary from other people, too. Some of it may not be what you were looking for; some of it may even be downright hurtful. But you can’t dwell on that. You can’t dwell on the commentary that won’t help you achieve your dreams. Instead, focus on the suggestions from the people who are genuine and sincere, the people who want to help you share your “work of heart” with the world. At the end of the day, only you can decide whether that suggestion, that adaptation, is beneficial for you and for your work. You’re the one who knows your work the best … but it’s so important to keep an open mind and to truly consider every suggestion — becomes sometimes, even in that “no,” there’s a piece of advice, a tidbit of information, that just may make all the difference.
This brings me back to the quote at the beginning of this entry. Success requires the ability to adapt, sometimes literally and sometimes figuratively. It could be something like rewriting a portion of a chapter to make it clearer or re-choreographing a part of a dance to make it flow better with the music. Or it could be something more figurative — adapting your mindset to realize that change isn’t always something to be intimidated by. The unknown can be a good thing sometimes. It’s much easier said than done. When you pour your heart and soul into something, when you’re so invested in it, it can be difficult to separate yourself from it and to embrace the possibility of adaptation with an open mind. It’s not only important to do that, though, but often times necessary. If you’re lucky enough to have people in your life whose opinions you so value and trust, then you know what an honor it is to have them help you along the path to your dream. I consider myself so blessed to have people like that in my life, people who devote so much time and effort to helping me because they genuinely truly want to. “Thank you” will never be enough. No words will ever be enough to properly express my gratitude and appreciation. I never used to like the unknown — and I still don’t. I’m the type of person who likes to have things planned out, likes to know where the path will lead. What I’ve discovered during this journey of mine to get my books published, is that sometimes the willingness to embrace change, to embrace suggetions, advice, and adaptation can help you take two steps forward in that journey, rather than just one. Not only will the literal change make a difference, but the change in your way of thinking, in your openness to accepting and embracing advice, will make a difference.
This is much easier when it comes from people who you know, admire, respect, and trust. I am lucky enough to have very special people heping me to edit my books, and words cannot express how grateful I am. I so value their ideas, and I know that their suggestions have made my manuscripts better. It means so much to me to have people who care enough to do that, as well as to have so very many people who are giving me such unconditional support in this. I so value these people’s opinions, and I take every single suggestion they give me into consideration. Their help has been absolutely invaluable, and I truly wish there was something more than “thank you” that I could say. Somehow “thank you” and “you’re the best” just aren’t enough. These aren’t the only people whose considerations I’ve been taking into account, though. There are also the literary agents. Due to their busy schedules, a lot of them simply don’t have the time to send a personalized response to every query letter, which is completely understandable. I’ve been lucky enough to get personalized answers from a few, though, and I’m taking every single suggestion and piece of advice into consideration. Getting these books published is my dream, and I’m more than willing to consider any suggestion that will help turn that dream into a reality. I’m so grateful to the agents who have been so nice and helpful with their commentary. Not only is it helping me in my quest for publication, but this whole process has been helping me to grow as a person.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to be intimidated by something, as long as you don’t let that fear stop you. I’ve learned that adaptation isn’t just important, but that sometimes it’s necessary. I’ve had to be open to adaptation on several occasions. My original manuscript was 1200 pages long — definitely too long for one book. It was difficult to have to cut it in half, because I had just had this vision of exactly how I wanted it to end. I knew I had to, though, so that ending became the ending to the second book instead of the first. I cut the manuscript in half, thinking that was enough. However, I recently received a very nice email from a very kind literary agent who suggested that I cut the manuscript in half again, and that if I did that, I would have “two very good books.” Just as with the first time, I initially didn’t want to do that. I had found a fitting point halfway through the manuscript to end the first book, and I really loved the idea of concluding the book there. While I still wish that I could keep the book as is, I also know that this literary agent has much more experience in the industry than I do. I so appreciate the time she took in sending me a personalized email and offering her suggestions and kind words, and I’m willing to adapt and try out her idea. I’ve found a place where I can cut the manuscript in half again (essentially making my original manuscript four books … and then there’s the sequel, which I suppose will be another four), and I’m currently working on a revised synopsis. I’m going to send this re-revised version out to a new group of literary agents to see what they say … their response will determine my next step (see? It really IS important to take things “one step at a time”). Instead of viewing this as just a change, I’m viewing it as another opportunity to get my books published. Would I rather only split the original manuscript in two? Sure. But there’s no way I would let that stop me. I want this too badly, I want this with all my heart … and if the journey to getting these books published mean that I’ve already written the equivalent of eight books instead of four, that’s okay. I’ve learned that it’s possible to embrace change, as long as it’s change that you agree with. I’ve learned that sometimes the journey to your dream includes some detours. Those detours allow you to recharge and regroup, and to do whatever’s necessary to improve or adapt your work of heart so that that journey can lead you to your destination and your goal.
While I was looking for a quote to use for this entry, I came across a saying that I really loved: “How flexible are you? Consider how water adapts to its environment: evaporation, condensation, snowflake, melting, flowing, goes around rocks, fills containers, etc.” I absolutely love that. Water can take on so many forms, from a beautiful crystalline snowflake that floats through the air to a forceful waterfall that flows into a gently rippling lake. Water changes and adapts according to its environment … perhaps that’s a lesson that we can all learn from Mother Nature. Adaptation is necessary, and brings about so many opportunities. Never overlook a piece of advice that can help you on the journey to making your dreams come true … because sometimes that suggestion may be just what you need to turn a rain drop into a snowflake that soars through the sky, twirling around in the air like a dream taking flight…