Monday, April 2, 2012

It Really IS About the Journey.

Hello there.

It took me a long time to figure out what I was going to write about today. I just couldn't figure out what to say. Did I really have anything to say?

What I decided on came to me as I sat here at my old desk, a desk my wife found for me on Craigslist. It's from the 1930's. Solid wood, chipped and scarred. One of the drawers has the remains of an old card still glued to the handle, both card and glue now deeply yellowed. The spidery writing on the card, barely visible, says simply, "Red Sox Yearbooks". There's some other writing below that, but I can't make it out. I think it says "1952".

This desk has had a journey, and that's a fact.

Just like most writers. We are in the midst of a journey. That's really what, for me, writing is all about: the journey.

Case in point: back on Friday, I signed my first book contract. A surreal moment for me, as I'd been working to get here for a very, very long time. Many, many years. A HELLUVA lot of sacrafice. I signed in blue pen, as I'd heard that's what you're supposed to do with contracts. I figure one of those copies will be returned me after being countersigned. I'm going to put the front sheet in a frame and put it up on my wall. It'll be one of the "road signs" along the way.

I've finally approached a turning point in my career. Definitely the ending of one phase, and the beginning of the next.

Why am I talking about this? Well, on my bedside table is a copy of Joseph Campbell's "The Hero With a Thousand Faces." I haven't read it in years, not since I started writing back in like 1997. The book got me thinking again about Joseph Campbell in general, and how brilliant and awakened he was. I think one of my most favorite quotes by him is this one: "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."

That is SO true. It's happened for me.

I had realized, back in my early twenties, that I was just not going to make a lot of money at some day job/career sort of thing. That just wasn't me. I wanted to learn to play blues guitar and play in clubs all over this country and overseas. That didn't work out, BUT that led me to painting. (I DO still play blues guitar everyday though, lol. Love it LOUD!) I painted for ten years, selling some of my work, but then one day I realized I'd hit a wall. I didn't know how to paint through it, but through THAT incident I got the bug to write.

And that was how my writing career started. The WHY of it starting was because I followed my bliss. And that can, again, mean a LOT of sacrifice. Money for drinks and dinner with friends was instead given over to paints and canvas and later on, paper and postage.

And then there's the time needed to follow your bliss. You.Need.To.Have.The.Time. And that's definitely one of the harder aspects of this whole thing. The time needed, along with your desire and need to commit to the journey itself. That's not an easy thing, for sure. Especially in today's culture that's all about fitting as much into your day as possible, at all cost. The people around you, and your loved ones figure into this, too, let me tell you. I've been blessed with a VERY understanding spouse, who is also my biggest cheerleader. When I get paid for the book, she's going to get a BIG prize for being so supportive of my journey. It's been so earned, many times over, I can tell you. :-)

I can sit here today and tell you that what Campbell was talking about is true. 100% true. If you follow your path, that path that is laid out only FOR YOU, then doors WILL open for you that would not have opened for someone else had they been standing in that exact same spot.

I've spent the last fifteen years following this writing path, and I've enjoyed every step, even the ones when I step in a pile of... well, you get me, I'm sure. :-)

One part of my journey is now over, and the next is now underway. I wish ALL of you success in following your bliss, and that when those doors open for you, the joy that fills you as you walk through is enough to fill the heavens.




Robin Allen said...

You're right that following your bliss takes a lot of time, dedication, and hard work. Congrats on sticking with all three and landing a book contract!

Lois Winston said...

Congrats on signing the contract, and welcome to the M'Inkers!

Alan Orloff said...

Excellent post! "Follow your bliss" is a darn good mantra. (It also would make a good title for a book!)

Beth Groundwater said...

What an inspirational post, RK! I wish you the best of luck in the next phase of your journey with Midnight Ink. We fellow authors will be with you along the way, dusting you off when you stumble and cheering you on as you reach new heights.

Unknown said...

Welcome to the bliss-followers! All creative pursuits ultimately feed one another (and I include many unconventional pursuits under the "creative" banner). Congratulations on signing the contract, and on following where the path leads you. As the bumper sticker says, "Not all who wander are lost."

Kathleen Ernst said...

Congratulations! And thanks for sharing such a thoughtful post. It also took me many years to go from the dream of publishing a book to getting that first contract. When I teach, I tell students that they need to enjoy the process (journey), because if their only pleasure is the idea of being published, it's likely going to be a rocky road.

Jennifer Harlow said...

Congrats on the contract. I don't think there's an author out there who hasn't had a long journey to publication. You just have to believe in yourself and never give up. Hope you did something fabulous to celebrate. And welcome to MI!

Robert K. Lewis said...

Thank, everyone! I'm really glad you liked the post. It just sorta... happened, lol. :-)

And I'm VERY happy to be a part of such a warm and wonderful family! You guys rock!

Robert K. Lewis said...

Thank, everyone! I'm really glad you liked the post. It just sorta... happened, lol. :-)

And I'm VERY happy to be a part of such a warm and wonderful family! You guys rock!

Shannon Baker said...

I'm sure there are writers for whom the journey was short and effortless. We hate them. For the rest of us, there is understanding and support...and wine and chocolate. Thanks, for reminding us of the understanding, Robert.

Donna OShaughnessy said...

I am stunned that I ran across your blog tonight, wondering if indeed all my hours away from family would ever make a difference. I again beleive it will. And my spouse, the most best husband will be greatly awarded as well. congratulations to you !