Thursday, November 30, 2006

Instigator's in the Details

The most important thing you need to know about me is that I'm the oldest of four. Everything else feeds from there - including my uninhibited need to be the center of attention and my drive to be the first in everything. I was after all until those other three showed up.

As for writing...It's kinda funny. I grew up thinking my sister would be the writer in the family. She had a short story published in our local newspaper at the age of seven. She says she plagiarized the idea - not the story just the idea. I say *cough, mumble, grumble* Writing the words down is what made it hers, the idea alone wasn't enough to get it published. Besides, my cousin, who she stole the idea from, lived in another state at the time. He wasn't likely to be trying to publish the story in our local paper.

So while I enjoyed reading - thanks to a $10 bribe from my parents the summer before fourth grade - I never really thought I could or would write.

Actually, I turned my sights to other arts - dancing (although I didn't have the body or talent to pull it off as a career), acting (while achieving moderate success in the local theatre and receiving a scholarship to community college still not enough talent for a career that could support me), I even considered painting for a brief five seconds.

But writing was always there in the back of my head. As a sophomore in high school I was given an interesting assignment in English class. We were divided up into groups and told to write a story. I think it had to be about 20 pages which seemed like an enormous amount to me. By that time I'd fallen madly in love with the romance genre, staying up until one or two o'clock in the morning quite often to read. So I, being the persuasive leader that I am, convinced my group (thankfully all girls) to write a romance. That's right, while everyone else in the class was writing about poverty, social issues, or government my group was writing a Scottish historical complete with a hero named Bryce.

Needless to say, I thought our effort was excellent - until I had to read it aloud in front of the class. I've blocked their response from my mind. It's better not to remember.

I went a long time writing nothing more than average college papers. But I read. I devoured every romance I could get my hands on. I even branched out into some fantasy stuff when none of my favorite authors had a new book out for me to read. I swear, I think I probably averaged 20 - 25 books a month, easy. But the more I read, the more I found myself rewriting the books as I went. Not that there was anything wrong with the way they were originally just wasn't how I would have told the story.

A couple of times during my adult life I started writing, thinking I could do this thing, I could write down what was in my head. I'd stop and start. Think about it, get a chapter, and get pulled away by my job, my husband, pregnancy, life. But the month after my daughter turned one I decided to take it seriously. I'd wandered aimlessly through jobs that meant nothing to me. Writing was something I enjoyed, something I was passionate about, something I could see myself happily doing for the rest of my life.

I wrote my first book in 4 weeks - don't laugh it sucks. But underneath the bad plot, convoluted storyline and inconsistent characters there was a kernel of something good. I found RWA, placed it in a chapter contest where it finaled. I figured maybe I wasn't just being idiotic about my dream. So after it was rejected I tried again, and again. Now I'm working on my fifth book, currently in revisions with Harlequin.

This dream has brought me so much - self confidence, a broader awareness of the world around me, wonderful friends and mentors. I hope my dream of publication comes true but if it doesn't, I've found so much and been so blessed.
We've shared several quotes this week and I'd like to leave you with a favorite of mine. I'm a big fan of successories. One of my favorites is entitled The Essence of Determination:

Determination is born out of purpose...knowing that you are gifted for something and this something must be attained. It is never enough to rely on luck or natural talent. You must, above all, believe in yourself, face your goals, and then fight as if your life depended on it.

Did the path of your life choose you - or did you choose it?


P.S. Today is the last day of our book-a-day giveaway so be sure and post for your chance to win!

P.P.S. Yesterday's winners are KimW (good thing you like NASCAR, huh?), Pat and amy*skf. Please email the Playground Monitor with your snail mail address to get your books.


Maureen said...

It's been a pleasure celebrating your anniversary with you this month. I can't believe November is coming to an end so soon. My path in life found me. I'm looking forward to seeing your book in print.

Minna said...

"Did the path of your life choose you - or did you choose it?"

I'm not really sure... I think it was a bit of both.

blueberri said...

Congrats on your revisions with Harlequin, Instigator!!! You've worked hard. I wish you great success!

I never would have dreamed of the path I've had to walk the last ten years, but it's led me to where I am today - getting to know the most gracious, caring people on this earth - romance writers. :)

I'm a better person for what I've gone through.

Beth said...

No this isn' what I envisoned career wise. Having a family yes that is what I wanted and I was blessed to have it.

Pat said...

Thanks so much. Sent you my info. Looking forward to the book and am only sorry I only discovered this site a few days ago. Will be here often.

And re your question - I think my path in life somewhat chose me - if it wasnt for an old friend, would not have met my husband and who knows what my life would have been like and I would not have my wonderful daugther either.

CrystalG said...

I think I chose my path in life. I think if I had been braver and more confident in my younger years my life would have taken a vastly different course.

I have really enjoyed participating in your anniversary celebration. It has been fun. :)

Pat said...

Marilyn Shoemaker - I would be remiss if I didnt thank you for clueing me on to this site. And I won to boot.

Thank you.

ChristyJan said...

"Did the path of your life choose you - or did you choose it?"

Hard question ~ sometimes I think I'm just being drug along for the ride. lol

Carol said...

Congrats to the winners!

It's been fun celebrating your anniversary! This has been a great party!

I'm not sure how to answer that question. I feel that everything we do determines the path that our life will take.

Tam said...

In the beginning my path in life chose me, later in life I choose my path.


Meljprincess said...

*sigh* I feel the path of my life chose me.

Congrats winners!

ellie said...

I think that we are all destined for something special in life but it depends upon what we do with it. We try to choosely wisely.

alissa said...

Our paths are definitely up to us and we can determine their route. It requires careful thought and a good roadmap.

pearl said...

Many know their path from very young and they are so lucky to be able to follow the right one. Others seem to struggle through life and never find the right one. I did find the right one later on, but it was the one suited for me.

Anonymous said...

Great story Instigator. Hands down, my path in life definitely chose me. Granted, I've done a couple things intentionally, and made some decisions about what I wanted to do here and there. But for the most part, life is holding the leash, not me.

Funny, I think back on how significantly one tiny event can change the course of our lives. Case in point, I had a guy call me one day and ask me to dinner. I'd just eaten, and like an idiot, said I wasn't hungry. He took it as a rejection, I was just being honest and didn't have the social skills to quickly correct the blunder and suggest we do it another time. And it was less than a week later I met the man I moved to California with, a guy I dated briefly, but nonetheless the reason I moved from one state to another.

Now I wonder how the course of my life might have changed if I'd just gone out to dinner with guy #1. We might have been dating, I may have never met guy #2 and moved, created my daytime career, married my husband, had my son, started writing.....

That kind of thing can blow your mind.

joelle said...

This month has been fun. Sometimes you are lead to the right path and know it is the best one for you. I was fortunate with that option feeling comfortable with it. But when you are young you sometimes are too immature to recognize the best things.

Kathy said...

Woa! Total enlightenment! I enjoyed reading about your life, Instigator, and how you came to love writing so much.

'Did the path of your life choose you, or did you choose it?'

Well, now... if you believe that fate is preordained how can you answer this? If you believe in a higher power, and that higher power designs your life, how can you not believe that everything you think, say and do has been preordained, fated to come to pass? Meetings with those who come strangely at the right time, thoughts that suddenly spark us to do what we do, actions of others that encourage or jolt us into action... these are all fated things. According to PM, the movie Crash is a good example of this.

Most writers find joy in writing characters because they have control over their fates and can place characters in situations where they are forced to react. Perhaps that is the draw. Fate is wonderfully mysterious. The lines that draw us together, lines that cross paths of those we would never have the opportunity to meet, strand the earth making it smaller than it really is. Woa, that's total enlightenment! (Feeling a little like one of the characters in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure right now.) But seriously I've seen it happen myself. As an Army brat and Army wife, the world is a small, small place. I've run into people I knew as a kid and they remembered me.... Wrap your brain around that when you think of war, poverty, and abuse, and how close these things can all really come to you. But also consider the joys, the commonalities that we all face. Fate draws humanity together. Every decision made sets us onto a path sure to converge with another's for a reason.

I leave you with this thought.
"If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavor." Eleanor Roosevelt

(Totally rad word verification, zen hkqoj!)

Instigator said...

You're right Lori, sometimes it's scary to realize that one choice can have such a rippling effect through our lives.

I also think that's a theme I like to explore in my writing. How one choice - usually one that's completely out of character - can change the course of a character's life forever.


robynl said...

I say a little of both. But mostly I chose the path.
It's been a blast and thanks.

bamabelle said...

I haved loved all of the stories this week. I hope it has been a great Birthday month for all of you! I know I had fun!

Congrats to the winners!

Problem Child said...

I try to tell myself that everything happens for a reason. I tell myself that a lot when things I don't like (like rejections) happen. :-)

There's that saying about God never closing a door without opening another but that doesn't keep it from being hell in the hallway. I kinda feel like I'm in the hallway now.

Just like "when the student is ready; the teacher will appear," I think you'll see the right path when you're ready to go down it.

You and your path choose each other.

Okay. That's all the zen-like stuff I can handle today. (Goes to find something snarky to do to make up for it.)

Joan said...

Happy Anniversary!!! Ok. My path is still not found. My life is like a river. It is always changing. Just when I think that I have found my way, it flows in a different way. Life is never boring for me.

Karen T said...

I think it a bit of both.

I met my husband thru the internet.

Hadnt spoken with him on the net in a year and then there was a message from him. I debated about answering it - I did and the rest is history. We are now married a little over a year.

Jennifer Y. said...

Thanks for sharing...I am still trying to figure out my path...not sure where it is leading.

Anonymous said...

I chose what I felt was the wisest and best decision for my future. It has been the correct choice for me and I am grateful for this. Not everything works out perfectly but then that is life and we have to be able to adapt to the unpredictable things that arise.

Lois said...

I think more overall life chose me. All the various things that happened in life that we sure could have done without that are passing in front of my eyes really had big influences on what choices we ended making. Maybe this next year, we can change that. :)


KimW said...

Yay!! Thank you! Going to live that dream of mine inside of the pages of the story. Can't wait to read it.

On the path of life subject...I'd say a little of both. Bad decisions early on helped me make good ones later on. Add in a little luck and here I am. lol

catslady said...

congrats to all the winners - present and past. It's been a great anniversary.

It chose me. I've pretty much always done what I was told instead of going for my dreams - ultimately I guess it was my choice to not make the hard choices (sigh).

Playground Monitor said...

Late chiming in. It's been a busy day getting ready to leave town tomorrow.

I think my life is a combination of choosing and being chosen. As I've grown older I've been able to draw on experience and chose more wisely. But there are those instances where things happened and I had no control and it's affected my life. For example, as awful as the plagiarism situation I mentioned yesterday was, that's what introduced me to the world of romance novels.

Sometimes it's the serendipities that are the sweetest.

Thanks to everyone who's helped us celebrate our birthday. It's been a blast, but I'm full of cake now. :grin: