“If you are going to run this race, you have to do it because you want to, because you have something to say or because it means more to you than anything in the world.”
~Arabella Hicks, via Susan Breen in The Fiction Class
It has been a long week. It’s been a difficult week, an emotional week, and a week that I sincerely hope won’t ever be repeated. Without getting into all the details, I’ll just say this: good health is everything. Everything. If you and your loved ones are healthy, then the rest will fall into place. The family situation I mentioned in my last post is still ongoing, so if you’re so inclined, any and all good thoughts are still most welcome and deeply appreciated. I believe in the power of positive thinking, I believe optimism can change the world, and I believe that miracles can happen if we have enough faith in them. That’s the perspective I’m choosing right now.
I’m also choosing to keep looking forward. It has been a difficult week on the querying front, as well, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me, but I’m trying very, very hard to keep looking on the bright side. To that end, I wanted to share this quote I came across while reading Susan Breen’s novel. My friend Sara loaned me the book a couple weeks ago – she said she thought of me right away when reading it – and I’m so glad she did. The way it’s structured is unique, creative, and innovative. It bounces back and forth between Arabella’s personal life, the fiction class she teaches, and the way the two intersect. I was particularly drawn in by the sections about her class – the dynamic of the students, the bond she develops with them, and the way they all grow not only as writers, but also as people.
My absolute favorite part of the book is a discussion Arabella has with one of her students. He’s questioning whether to pursue a career, a life, as a writer, and she gives him the advice quoted above. It’s been a few days now since I finished reading, but those words have stayed with me. They struck a chord in a way that goes beyond explanation. I didn’t just read them. I didn’t just understand them. I felt them. I still do. Because they could not possibly be more true. Writing is a joy. It’s captured starlight and magic come to life. It’s a passion that stirs so deep inside that you can’t even figure out where it comes from, where it becomes a part of you. But taking that next step? Working every day to turn your dream of being a published author into reality? It is hard. It’s harder than I ever could have realized until I jumped into it with both feet and an open heart. The twists and turns, the ups and downs, the strength and emotional fortitude it takes to pursue this relentlessly … it’s worth it, and that’s precisely because it means the world to me. It would be easy to let myself fall back in the race, to slow my pace and let everyone run by, but I refuse. Publishing, like so much else in life, is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m in it because I want to be. I’m in it because I have something to say and something to write. I’m in it until I cross that finish line … and then I’ll be headed for a new finish line, the next one.
I am not athletic. I am not a runner. When we ran the mile in high school, I was among the last to finish. But slow and steady wins the race, and I’m not talking about a race against others. I’m talking about the race we challenge ourselves to, the one we set as our goal. There may not be any medals to win, but I fully believe that if we keep at it, if we keep running, we’ll get a far greater prize. One step at a time, and before you know it, you’ll have traveled a great distance.