Sometimes when we paint ourselves into a corner we may need to write ourselves out. This Flash Bulletin will tell you how I need exactly that when faced with a life goal that mocked me--and two demons that blocked my escape.
Though I'd moved across country a half-dozen times--once with 300 bucks to my name--my dream of a move to Seattle grew more distant by the time. I'd grown older, times had changed and the move's logistics floored me. Seattle was close to becoming the dream that got away.
I was living from payday to payday and couldn't see how I could finance the move. The harder I tried to figure it out, the more fiercely the demons assailed me. Can't-itis, the king demon, said: You can't find a job out west until you make move and you can't find an apartment there until you have a job and you can't even send your stuff until you have those two. This demon's cousin, Too-Too, pitched in: You're too old to pull this off and you've been working way too long at your present joe job and you're too poor to find a mate and there's too much competition for you to win at selling ebooks.
But something astonishing happened this week: a miraculous shift of perspective. I'd come to see myself, at least in regard to the move, as a helpless sad sack trapped in a pitiful circle of woe. When the miracle happened on Tuesday, I felt flooded in the most wonderful light. I saw with perfect clarity that I wasn't trapped at all. Not if I chose to see myself as the hero of a story that I had the power to write. Say, a thriller about a man down on his luck and facing some mighty tall hurdles...
Now, I knew something about writing after publishing ten books. And among the top lessons I'd learned were these:
1) I need to work by outline, blocking out my stories in clearly defined parts.
2) On the road to redemption, the hero must show a fighting spirit no matter how often he falls. And we need to see this early on.
3) He must move forward, tackling his demons and taking key steps at key times. We can't abide a loser for 80% of a book, though we may abide a loser who shows a winning streak even if he stumbles. Certainly, by the halfway point he'd better show his stripes.
4) In the writing itself, the key thing is to stay on track, getting it down on paper, no matter how wretched the first draft may be.
With these lessons in mind, the move seemed eminently doable--if I broke it down just so, and continued to regard myself as an action hero...temporarily down on his luck. I chose a move deadline: October, 2014. Next, I listed the slew of things I'd have to do: from packing to research to making the money to move, etc. The list looked as formidable as finishing a novel. But then again, I'd published ten. So I did what I'd do if writing the move as a novel:
I broke it down into parts, things I'd need to do each month. And to start off on the right action footing, I filled a 55-gallon trash bag with clutter and garbage and junk I won't need.
Part 2, coming soon, will offer more specifics--and tell you how I put to work the secret weapon I mentioned a few months ago.
The Seattle Can-Can has begun!