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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Been There, Done that...or Maybe I Didn't by Suz deMello

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference...
(Robert Frost)

     Our theme for December is "Been there, done that and don’t/do want to do it again", which can translate as regrets. Often we make choices based on fear. Often we're influenced by others--that's often called peer pressure, but in my regard, those influences are usually from authority figures. Less so now, more so when I was a floundering teen or twenty-something.

     Early in college, I was influenced by an authority figure to reject a career in architecture for a major in art. This was not a disastrous choice but a bad one--fact is, I can't draw a straight line without a ruler or a circle without a compass. I sincerely do regret that decision. I still love old buildings and while I am fond of art, find myself drawn to decorative arts rather than fine arts. Paintings and sculptures are nice, but don't suck away my breath like a magnificent cathedral or well-made desk.

(public domain)

Diego Delso, Wikimedia Commons, License CC-BY-SA 3.0

      Later, I went to law school. Why? Sheer fear. I had graduated with an art major but without the slightest idea what to do with myself, and because I was interested in politics, had earned a master's in political science. Again, no idea what to do with it. Had my head been screwed on straight, and had there been a friendlier atmosphere in DC (the president was Reagan, I believe) I would have gone to DC and taken a job--any job--in the State Department and worked my way up. Who knows--by now I may have become an ambassador or even Secretary of State, though I doubt that based on my big mouth (excuse me, outspokenness). That my parents offered me an all-expenses-paid trip through law school made my decision easier.

     I hated law school and loathed practicing law even more. But when I was about 46, a friend persuaded me to take a class called "Writing for Publication," which was about writing professionally for magazines and periodicals. I learned a lot, but the most surprising revelation was that every publisher promulgates submission guidelines. Until then, I had thought that writers just wrote whatever struck their creative fancy, and then found a publisher to buy the work. Now, with so many publication options available, that's more true than it was in the 1990s. Then, one wrote to a set of requirements.

     This was a total eye-opener to me. Also enlightening was the information that over a thousand romance novels were published annually (Again, that's no longer the case. The market has exploded, mostly with indie-published works). But at the time, I said to myself, "Hey, I bet I could do that too." At age 46, I was no longer the prisoner of fear.  

(public domain)

Youth indeed is wasted on the young.


Melissa Keir said...

I think there are still those houses that dictate what you can write. I know a few formulas that become over done... but I'm glad that we have many more choices. I decided to forego the education until after marriage and children which was nice but made a difference in my life. Isn't it fun to look back and see all the different roads we might have chosen?

Rose Anderson said...

Yes, the fear does hold one back. That's how I came to be a romance writer. I was afraid if I didn't learn the publishing ropes, when it came time to publish the weighty fiction I'd been working on for years, I'd fall flat on my face. Five years later and I'm still writing romance! Go figure.

All the best Suz. May 2016 shine for you. :)

Cara Marsi said...

Fear can definitely hold you back. They say you regret what you didn't do not what you've done. There are some things I've done that I regret, but I'm sorry fear kept me from doing many things I wanted. I admire all you've done, Suz.

Tina Donahue said...

Wish I had gone to law school and passed the bar. Not to practice, but to be informed of legalese and be able to protect myself better w/o having to hire someone. Glad you didn't let fear hold you back. :)

vicki batman said...

Hi, Suz! You know those different avenues led you to the writing and that is a very good thing. We can't change the past although it does influence our future. Hugs, girl!

Marianne Stephens said...

You found your career...after getting many degrees and exposure to other careers. Good for you. And, your legal background comes in handy (from someone who knows how well you keep things straight for our NL group).
I wrote my first romance book at age was awful! But after teaching many years, I needed to do something different.
As we get older and wiser, the less fearful we become and speak out...and try different things!

jean hart stewart said...

Life is just so damn interesting! As is your column and the different comments on it. It takes some of us a while to get there, but what enjoyment comes from writing from the heart.

Suz said...

Thanks, everyone, for your insightful comments.

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