Category “Writing”

On or Off?

An elephant dressed in a clown costume could stroll by me and I wouldn’t notice it.  I know this, because it happened yesterday.

Kidding.

Seriously, though – how do I completely miss things that Husband sees when we’re walking down the same sidewalk?  The large dog careening towards us.  The altercation brewing between two neighbors.  The people waving at us from across the street.

He sees it all.  I see none of it.

I’m trying to be better about this.  More observant.  More aware.

I mention this because it’s the only reason I noticed the new Dos Equis billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard this morning.  Lil Mil and I were strolling from church to Husband’s lawyer league softball game when I saw it:  the face of the Most Interesting Man in the World and this quotation:

The bulk of your life should be off the record.

It’s an enticing idea.  It’s meant to be.  Instinctively, I want it.  A life lived “off the record.”  But here I am, putting more of mine on it.

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Do you wish your life were more private?  Does social media (facebook, twitter, myspace) make living *off the record* impossible?  Is a life *on the record* a consequence of blogging or the impetus for it?

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?

Where Am I?

Memory has been on my mind a lot lately.

Watching a tiny baby grow into a less tiny baby makes you want to remember each day.  Maybe not every moment, but so many of them.

On top of being in a memory-making mode, I’m writing a novel that asks big questions about the nature of memory and its relationship to identity.  Do our memories define us?  Am I me because I remember all the things that have brought me to this moment?  Or am I somehow separate from my memories?  Of course, the answer depends on how we define “I.”  Then again, how we define “I” is the question itself.

In constructing a story about the nature of memory, I had to come up with my own answers to these questions.  Now, I want yours.  Your answers but also your questions.  About memory.  Identity.  Sense of self.  The mind.  The body.  The heart (the one that loves, not the one that beats).  The soul.

Which of these are inextricably entwined?  Which of these can we remove from a person without taking the person away?

If tonight, while you slept, you were to somehow get a brain download of all of my memories – every single one – would you wake up tomorrow in love my husband?  Would I, with no memories left, still love him?

Are memories something we have or something we are?

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.

The Opposite Is True (Day #87)

I remembered why I’m doing this.

Not that I’d forgotten — I hadn’t.  But sometimes in the midst of the actual doing, the reason behind the doing fades into the background.  As it should.  It’s hard to get things done when you’re busy thinking about why you’re doing them.  The Why can be distracting.

So can a moany, kicky (not a word but should be a word) baby.

These things are related.

As you all know, I’m rapidly approaching my Day #100 deadline and I’m wildly behind schedule.  So far behind schedule that I’ve abandoned the schedule for a “just get as much done as I can today” approach.  I think it’s working.  I have no idea if I’ll have a draft complete by May 11th, but it seems within the realm of possibility that I might.

With 13 days to go, every day matters.  I’m fighting to stay balanced, but it’s hard not to have tunnel vision.  This is important to me.  And while it’s not absolutely imperative that I finish on Day #100, the deadline does matter.  There will come a day in the near future when it will be time for me to go back to work.  On that dark and stormy day, whether I want it to or not (I won’t), the novel will get pushed down the priority list.  Way down.  Which is why I need to finish this book NOW, so I can transition from trying-to-finish-my-novel mode to trying-to-sell-my-novel mode before my days as a stay-at-home-writer-mom are up.  Or – even better – so I can actually sell my novel so those days don’t have to be up at all.

An irony:  when I started this project, my biggest fear was that my baby would derail my career goals.  Baby and career were at war in my mind.  I worried (okay, assumed) that motherhood would require me to accept something Less Than in my professional life.  My baby wasn’t even here yet, and I was already looking for ways to manage its existence, so afraid that he/she would get in the way of what I Really Wanted.  Now, three months into this mommy gig, I am looking for ways to manage my career, unwilling to let it get in the way of what I Really Want.  To be here.  To be present.  With my daughter.  Because of her.

Which brings me back to the Why.

Yesterday, I was staring at my screen, struggling to finish this BFF fight scene that’s giving me so much trouble.  Lil Mil was kicky and moany and fussy.  She was tired.  So was I.  Neither of us had slept well the night before.  We both needed a nap.

I weighed my options.  I could try to get her to sleep in the vibrating, singing, spinning bassinet next to my desk so I could keep working.  I could take her up to her crib and put her down for an official nap.  Or I could pick her up, carry her to the queen-sized bed that was once in her room and is now in my office, and lay down with her.

Yes, the last option was the least productive.  From a sleep-training perspective, you’d probably even call it unproductive.  But as we were lying there, foreheads pressed together, both of us dancing on the edge of sleep, a thought popped into my mind:

This is why I’m doing it.

Yes, I want a career as a writer.  I want someone to pay me to create stories I care about.  But more than that, I want a career that enables me to have those moments with my daughter.  Moments I’ll either have or miss.  Moments I’ll either be there for or I won’t.

And that’s the irony:  I thought motherhood would be at odds with my goal.  The opposite is true.

Motherhood has become the reason for it.

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How has your detour changed your goal?  Has the goal itself changed or just the reason for it?

Speaking of detours – please send me your detour story!  In the spirit of today’s post, I want this Friday to be a tribute to The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me detours.  What unexpected event/opportunity/situation was a game changer for you?  How is your life better because of it?