“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” – Barbara Hall, Emmy nominated writer and producer
Over the past few months I have been accumulating resources to help me on my path to become a writer. Packing my proverbial backpack for this climb I have chosen to tackle.
Now I find myself overwhelmed with tools, ideas and plans. I need to start a critique group to get feedback on my novel. I need to revise the novel so it fits into the correct genre. I need to work with an editor to get feedback on my story and my writing. I need to create a list of agents to send out my queries (the more the merrier!). I need to work on my second novel (already thirty pages in!), update my blog to make it more interesting, create a Twitter account, get an illustrator…aagh! The list is becoming overwhelming.
As happens quite often (at least to me) I find myself temporarily paralyzed by the amount of work required to move forward. Which path do I follow first? Revision? Queries? Writing? Blog? And how will I squeeze it all into my daily life? I have a full-time day job and the grocery shopping and laundry won’t magically get done. So where to start?
Years ago I made the decision to get my Master’s degree. Then shortly after I started working on this, my husband and I decided we wanted a baby. I figured I could complete my degree before I got pregnant. But the best laid plans never work out as you think they will. I found myself working full time, getting ready to have a baby and working towards that degree I’d always wanted. Needless to say, it became overwhelming. That’s when my husband, my very patient and loving husband, sat me down and said, “You can’t eat the elephant whole, you have to eat it one bite at a time.”
Setting aside the visual of eating an elephant, he had a good point. One bite. Stop. Chew. Swallow. Now take another one. In my last blog I wrote about how this journey is a climb, not a sprint. There isn’t just one correct path, there are many. I just have to pick one to start, and begin moving in that direction. The other paths? They’ll still be there for me to tackle when the time is right. I can choose to sit here undecided, or begin the walk down a path excited about where it might lead.
And when I begin to feel myself wanting to sprint down all paths at the same time? Setting timelines that are perhaps unrealistic? Frustrated that I haven’t completed tasks by a given date? I have to slow down, reset my expectations. Remind myself that the deadlines are mine. I set them. So guess what? I can change them.
It’s so easy to let myself become overwhelmed to the point of not doing anything or simply abandoning the trail. But then I hear my husband’s voice. Encouraging. Loving. Reminding me to take one bite at time. And I remember. I did complete my Master’s degree. I have a wonderful son. I didn’t quit. I just reset and kept going.