Category “Game Plan”

A New Adventure

I’ve been wrestling with what to do now that Lil Mil is practically a grown up (22 months, people!  what is going on with time racing by?!?) and I’ve finished my novel.  I want to keep blogging (my recent hiatus has been like not working out for a few months… I thought about it less and less as time went on, but four months later, I feel slothy and slobby and out of shape – do I even know how to do this anymore?), but this site no longer feels like the right place to do it.  Embrace the Detour was, in its design, a time-limited project.  An “experiment in creativity and productivity,” I always said.  One that I’m so glad I took – I ended up with a novel I’m proud of and hundreds of blog posts commemorating my daughter’s first days of life.

But now it’s time for a new journey.  Or, at least, a new phase in the one I’m already on.  I want this site to remain the repository for all the posts I wrote and detour stories I collected, and I want people to click around and explore.  But from now on, my new posts will appear HERE.  If you’re on the ETD email distribution list, you’ll keep getting posts, originated from my new site.

I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey.  You’ll be hearing from me more often, but the posts will be shorter.  I’ll be keeping you updated on my writing projects (for now, Parallel, the not-yet-titled-Book-2 (not a sequel to Parallel) and TEACH, the TV pilot my writing partner and I sold to ABCF, but hopefully there will be more to tell you about soon!), and doing a lot of what I did here – musing about life and love and identity and motherhood and the juggling act of work/home/everything in between.  So it’ll be the same.  But different.

Check it out!  http://laurenmillerwrites.com

Thankful. Again. Always.

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Two years ago, on Thanksgiving Day 2009, I told my family about my latest endeavor. My soon-to-be blog. Embrace the Detour, I was calling it. “An experiment in creativity and productivity,” was how I described it to them. Excited (and very pregnant), I showed them the freshly minted site and read them highlights from my “Because” page:

During the first twelve weeks of my new baby’s life (the length of a standard maternity leave), I will endeavor to do the wholly unadvisable and likely impossible: I will attempt to write — and finish — a novel. I will try to write daily, both for the book and for this blog. I will likely regret making the previous statement.

They probably thought I was insane. They may have been right. I was about to have my first baby. Those were some pretty bold pronouncements for a new mom. Some pretty grand “I will”s.

I wasn’t certain I’d be able to do it. In fact, I was pretty scared I wouldn’t. But I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to. I wanted the finished product, but more than that I wanted to be a person who could set a goal and attain it.

Desire is a powerful motivator.

Four months after Lil Mil was born, those four “I will”s had become four “I did”s. And while there were moments when this challenge felt like a giant boulder strapped to my back, there were more moments when it felt like a blessing. A gift. It was order amidst chaos. It gave structure to what would’ve otherwise been a free-for-all of hormones and bodily fluid. It fueled, and thus kept alive, the vision that might’ve burned out (or been doused out by breast milk and baby barf).

Although I didn’t write the book as quickly as I’d planned (12 weeks turned into 100 days and the draft I initially produced wasn’t something I’d ever want my name on), but less than a year after launching Embrace the Detour, my novel was ready to go out to publishers. Because really, wasn’t that what I was truly hoping for? Not just a finished manuscript. A book deal.

I wasn’t sure how I’d get there, but I knew I needed the manuscript first, so I focused on that. And then, when the draft was in decent shape, I started querying agents. Slowly, one-by-one, so I could judge the feedback and tweak my query letter if necessary. I’d sent three queries when I got an email from an agent who’d been reading my blog. She wanted to read my manuscript.

Um, yes. Yes, please. Yes, yes, yes.

So, almost exactly a year ago today, I sent that agent, Kristyn Keene at ICM, my story. And exactly a month ago today, I sold that story to Sarah Landis at HarperTeen in a two-book deal.

I sold my book.

I sold my book.

I. Sold. My. Book!!!!

It’s been a month since it happened (I wanted to tell my parents in person before announcing it here) but it still feels surreal, like a dream. Which makes sense, I guess, because it IS a dream. The dream that has informed so many of my choices. The dream that has made me hopeful and happy and determined and unafraid.

Today I am thankful for that dream. Thankful most of all to God for giving it to me. Thankful to Lil Mil for being the reason that dream became action. Thankful to Husband for believing that action would bear fruit. Thankful to Kristyn for seeing the promise in my story, and for putting in the time to make it better, and for selling it to exactly the right publisher, and for being, sincerely, the loveliest individual I’ve ever worked with. Thankful to Sarah for saying yes (and for paying me to write another one!). And thankful to you guys, many of who have been on this journey from the beginning.

In some ways, it’s the end of the road. But, truly and wonderfully, it’s only the beginning.

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

Thankful

I didn’t know what I was getting into.

Exactly a year ago, on Thanksgiving 2009, I revealed my super secret “creative project” to my family.  Up until that day, Embrace the Detour was just a figment of my imagination.  Yes, I owned the domain name and yes, I had paid someone to design the site (back then, I knew exactly nothing about HTML and the ins and outs of Wordpress), but since no one knew about ETD, I could pretend it didn’t exist.

But I didn’t want to.  Not back then, anyway.  Shot through with third trimester pregnancy hormones, I was raring to go.  I didn’t want to wait until Lil Mil arrived.  Eager to convince myself (and everyone else) that I COULD DO THIS! I started working on my first post (which, I’ll admit, took me over a week to write).

While certainly supportive, my family had mixed feelings about this creative project of mine.  Husband in particular was lukewarm.  He was excited that I was excited, but at the same time, he was worried that I was taking on too much.

I was.

Of course at the time I didn’t realize that.  I honestly believed that I could write — and finish! — a novel in the first three months of my baby’s life, and I said as much on my Because page.  Believe me, if I’d known how incredibly hard the undertaking would prove to be, I never would’ve made such a grand (and public) pronouncement.

Thank God I didn’t know.

By the time I realized what I’d signed up for, it was too late.  There were too many people watching and, even more than that, too many people telling me to give up.  It was too much, they said.

They were right, of course, but I refused to accept that.  So I kept at it.  Kept juggling.  Kept struggling.  Kept writing.

Three months turned into 100 days.  My definition of “draft” morphed into something more manageable.  My blog posts became less frequent.

But I kept at it.  Kept juggling.  Kept struggling.  Kept writing.

And today, one year after this blog was born and 10 months and 8 days after my baby was born, I have a completed novel to show for it.  And!  On top of that, I have something unexpected.  A community.  This community.  Friends!  Not the fake, we-met-over-the-Internet kind, but the real, live, we-met-over-the-Internet kind.  Friends like Rachel of MWF Seeking BFF (who I met in person two weeks ago and am now obsessed with.  Rachel, if I move to Chicago can I please be your BFF?)

Thank God for unrealistic expectations.  Thank God for this blog and the book that came out of it.  Thank God for the baby who’s made all the juggling and struggling worthwhile.  Thank God for the boy who is juggling and struggling with me, holding my hand while I do it.

And thank God for you, my friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Life After Yes

Our lives are marked by Yeses. And Nos, of course. But the Yeses, they shine.

Or they don’t.

Proposals, pink lines, acceptance letters, job offers, greenlights, book deals. We spend our lives waiting for one Yes or yearning for another. Each time, we want the Yes so badly we can taste it. Each time, we tell ourselves that things will be different once we get it. Better.

We tell ourselves that we will be different. Better.

And then the yes comes.

And things change. We start wearing that diamond ring or those stretchy jeans with the elastic waistband or that I’m-supposed-to-be-happy smile. But while things look different on the outside, we aren’t different on the inside. We aren’t better. Or happier. Which means that life after yes feels a lot like life before yes. A life that’s Less Than or Not Enough.

But Yes is supposed to be a game changer. It’s supposed to be an us changer. It’s supposed to be the thing that magically transports us from where we are to where we’ve always wanted to go. Yes is supposed to matter.

So why doesn’t it?

Do we expect to much of Yes? Or does the problem lie with us, with our inability to step into Yes, our refusal to let Yes be enough?

I’ve never been very good at Yes. Getting into college and then law school. Landing my dream job. Passing the bar exam. These were big Yeses for me. Each one was a Yes I worked for. A Yes I waited for. Each one took me to a place I wanted to go. But each time, when I got there, there I was. The same person I was before. Not better. Not happier.

Why? Because the Yes wasn’t enough. Which meant than life after it wasn’t either.

This is not how it’s supposed to work.

I know this from experience. I know this because there is one Yes in my past that does shine. It sparkles and glitters and glistens. It’s a Yes that stands in middle of a Before and an After. A Yes that changed things. A Yes that changed me. A Yes that taught me that Life can be different after Yes. That it should be.

This Yes was both given and received. This Yes took the form of an “I Do,” but it was a Yes just the same.

Four and a half years ago, in a big yellow church in Atlanta, Georgia, I said yes to Husband and he said yes to me. And in that moment, I started living happier ever after. Not because I’d snagged the perfect husband or the perfect marriage (I hadn’t). But because in that moment, I was getting more than I deserved, and I knew it. Our relationship, with all its complexities and issues and challenges, was everything I wanted and, frankly, more than I thought I would ever get. And there we were, at that altar, saying Yes. For now. Forever.

That Yes was everything. That Yes was enough. It didn’t matter what happened next week or next year or ten years down the road. What was true in that moment wouldn’t stop being true when things got rocky or rough. Our marriage – a whopping five seconds old – was already a dream come true.

The awareness of that changed me. It made me different. Better. Happier. Which tells me something about Yes that I think we often overlook. It’s easy for us to see Yes as the beginning of something. An engagement. A marriage. A pregnancy. A career. And while it is that in a lot of ways, Yes is also the fulfillment of something. A dream. A wish. A prayer. A promise. Which means that Yes, in itself, IS enough. We have what we wanted – all that we wanted – the moment we get the Yes.

The secret, I think, is in the awareness. Recognizing that this – right here – is the dream-come-true. That pink line. That mortgage. That offer letter. That publishing contract. We didn’t count on a risk-free pregnancy or a problem-free house or a stress-free job. We didn’t expect a bestseller. Before the Yes, the Yes was enough.

The Yes IS enough.

As many of you probably know, the title of today’s post is also the title of my friend Aidan’s debut novel, which hits bookstores today. While I suspect LAY is going to skyrocket to the bestseller list (yes, I think it’s that good), I hope that today will sparkle and shine in Aidan’s mind even if it doesn’t. Because today is a Yes. A giant, neon YES.

And Yes is enough.

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I want to hear your Yes stories! Had life after yes been different? Better? Happier? How has Yes disappointed you?

18 More Hours (Day #100)

It’s here.  Day #100.  My big deadline.  And, like with any deadline, I’ll be working til the very last moment.

It’s 6:00 a.m. PST.  I’ve got 18 more hours til midnight.  And I plan to use every single one.

Which means today is a book day.  Not a blog day.

So if you’re looking for my big Day #100 post, (please please please) come back tomorrow!

In the meantime, if you’re visiting Embrace the Detour from Momalom, check out the “ETD Essentials” on the sidebar.  And if you missed yesterday’s post on Courage (the first post in the Five For Ten series), scroll down and read it now.  And please, comment!  This whole Five For Ten thing depends on the power of the comment.   If you don’t have a blog of your own, shoot me an email at lauren [at] embracingthedetour [dot] com.