Tag Archives: life decisions

Choose Wisely

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Every day, we make choices. We make them based on the best knowledge we have at the time, based on the feelings in our hearts at a particular juncture, based on how we expect our lives to turn out. But life never – or, rarely – turns out the way you plan it, and so sometimes our choices turn out to be unexpectedly fantastic, and other times unimaginably bad. But still, we make them, because we must.

I don’t like to think I am my choices. I would rather think I shape my life than the other way around; I tell myself that I am in control. But is this true? Does a choice made in sorrow by a version of myself that I no longer recognise still hold sway over me to this day? A choice that had to be made – which was, despite everything, the best choice for its own, or any, moment – and which, in so many ways, was not a choice at all because its alternative was unthinkable. A choice that should have left no questions in its wake.

Faced with it right now, this moment, would I make the same decision? A million times, yes.

All the same, a strange dislocation occurs when you’re faced with your life the way it could have been, had you chosen differently. A doubling, a dizzying sense of unreality. An uncomfortable, sickening and vertiginous feeling. Even if you know the choices you made were right, still the call of the unwalked path is strong, for just that moment, that one window into an unlived life. Perhaps it shouldn’t be this way: there is no point to wondering ‘what if?’ And yet, it happens.

Are there multitudes of worlds in which versions of you are living the lives you could have had, each of them gazing up at their particular stars and dreaming about living the life you have? Perhaps. The life you have is a wished-for ideal, and it is good to remember that.

Maybe we fool ourselves that our choices mean anything at all. Perhaps there is only one way that things could ever be, and no matter what we choose we cannot escape it. Perhaps, in its own dark way, this is comforting. It may even be true that there is no such thing as ‘choosing wisely’; all we can do is do the best we can, given our particular circumstances in any given moment. The important thing is to choose, and not to regret – to trust yourself to make a choice and stick with it, and move on without looking back.

You know something?Maybe I should have slept a little better last night, so that I wouldn’t have woken up with a head full of fuzz this morning.

Huh?  image: 123rf.com

Huh?
image: 123rf.com

Go forth and grab Tuesday by the lapels, my friends, while I wait for my brain to re-engage.

Bootstraps

‘Writing’ and ‘being a writer’ aren’t the same thing, by a long shot. ‘Writing’, that wonderful thing, is something I could do all day, fancifully kneading verbs and adverbs together while mixing a few adjectives in for good measure, trilling with ladylike laughter as I sprinkle the whole with punctuation; writing, in and of itself, is a wonderful thing. I love it.

Being a writer, though – and I’m the first to admit that I’m not even on the first rung of the very long ladder that’s labelled ‘A Writing Career’ – is, at times, obscenely difficult. Getting rejections is hard (I’m going through a spate of that at the moment); writing to deadline is hard; juggling deadlines is harder still. I’m still not completely ‘on top’ of the various deadlines I’m aiming for this summer, and several have just whooshed by. I’m telling myself that sometimes, you’ve just got to admit you can’t do everything, and give up worrying, but the problem with good self-advice is you don’t generally listen to it.

There’s still nothing else I’d rather be doing, however.

Image: sarahhina.blogspot.com

Image: sarahhina.blogspot.com

Today the things that are on my mind include: wondering how I’m going to get on this Saturday (I’m recording one of my stories for a podcast, of which more next week); worrying about all the stories I have out on sub at the moment and hoping some of them – even one – will make the cut; thinking about the stories in piles on my workdesk or in pieces on my computer and hoping that I can save them in time to get them ready for some of my aforementioned deadlines; the constant low-level worry about whether I’ve done the right thing with my life, and – the biggie – my novels, and my plans for those. And, as the title of today’s post suggests, I’m pretty much telling myself to buck up, take a deep breath and just get on with it.

Seriously. Just get on with it. I wonder, sometimes, why the niggling ‘am I doing the right thing?’ is constantly gnawing at the edges of my mind – I know I am. I’ve never been more sure. But when rejection emails are pouring in and nothing I write seems to be hitting the spot, perhaps worry is the only logical psychological response. It’s a bad cycle to allow myself to get into, though, because the rot of ‘well, nothing I’m submitting is any good,’ will eventually turn into ‘nothing I write is any good.’ Once that happens, I’ll only be one step away from giving up. And that can’t happen. I don’t want it to.

I know I want to write for the rest of my life because none of the challenges that I’ve so far faced have put me off the idea, and none of the warnings from other writers – ‘It’s a long, hard slog!’ ‘You’ll never earn a penny!’ ‘You’re in competition with far too many others!’ ‘You need to be exceptional to succeed!’ – have given me a second’s pause. I don’t know if it’s unhinged optimism, or simply self-delusion, but I still want to write, even knowing all this may be true. There is a lot of competition out there, and you’ll never be a millionaire. You could work for the rest of your life doing this, and still you may never succeed.

But I never wanted to be a millionaire anyway, and there’s a lot of competition in every walk of life. There’ll always be a better bookseller/teacher/lawyer/rocket scientist than you, but should that put you off wanting to be one? No way. Isn’t every job, and every career, a long hard slog? Yes. So why should writing be any different?

I know I want to be a writer because I’m willing to accept penury, long hours, hard work, brain-ache, rejection, disappointment and isolation to get there. In fact, it goes further than being willing to accept all these things: you have to be willing to inflict them upon yourself. That takes a special kind of masochism, and probably explains a lot about writers and their tendencies towards alcohol and oddness. (Hopefully I’ll avoid those bits.)

But I know I’ll succeed as a writer because I already have succeeded as a writer – I’m doing it. What more success could I ask for? Anything more than what I already have is gravy, as the saying goes. I’d love to see my name on the spine of a shelf-full of novels, and I’d love to see my stories appearing in some of the high-profile publications I’ve recently submitted to, and I’d love to think that I could bring the same joy into a young reader’s life that my favourite authors brought into mine – but if it never happens, I’m still a writer. I’m giving it my very best shot, and for that if nothing else I should be happy with what I’ve achieved.

I’ll try to remember all this the next time I get a rejection! Oh, how easy it is to write all this self-encouragement in a blog post and forget it completely when the dark cloud of doubt decides to settle over your head once more…

If you write, you’re a writer. End of story. Get on with it!

Grab those bootstraps, and keep on going! Image: wikiality.wikia.com

Grab those bootstraps, and keep on going!
Image: wikiality.wikia.com