(Almost) Everything I Needed to Know I Learned After Getting Lost
Aside from always carrying a compass, map, water and cell phone whenever I step out of the house, getting lost taught me a few of things about myself and about how to handle life in general and writing in particular.
1) Do the right thing. We don't always do the right or smart thing the first time. Or even the second. When I initially realized I was lost, I should have just sat still and waited for help. I didn't and it got me into deeper trouble. That being said, I'm not one to wait for good fortune to simply fall into my lap. We have to be proactive in our lives, use our brains from the start. In writing, the right thing is creating stories I like (because if I don't like them or believe in them, it will come through on the page), learning all I can about the craft and the business, milking my friends for information etc.
2) If you do screw up, or things go wrong, try not to compound the problem with further stupidity. I stopped moving once night fell, keeping myself relatively safe. And while I probably should have climbed downhill to the road rather than up to the rock, I got lucky. When I hand over a piece of writing to my crit partners, I know they'll tell me where I went wrong. I don't always agree with them, but usually I do. If more than one says "This doesn't work" I have to take a hard look at it and often will admit it needs fixing.
3) Never dismiss the idea of "luck." I know, up in #1 I said don't wait for things to fall into your lap. And I meant it. But we can make our own luck, up to a point. Me finishing my novel and letting it sit in my computer will not get it in front of people who can get it published. I need to be in the right place at the right time to have it looked at by the right person. That means contests, networking and doing research to sent it to the appropriate person. There's no guarantee my efforts will pay off, but with persistence and a little luck, who knows.
4) Planning and determination will get you over most fears. Don't give in to the fear of "what if" or "what if not." Do what you know you need to get done, and do it the best way you can. Tired and scared, I made my way up the hill to the clearing, not knowing if I'd made the right choice, not knowing if I'd have to spend another night out. But I had a plan, that by a certain time I'd try another tactic. Keeping that in mind gave me direction, a goal. I didn't dwell on what had happened to that point, other than to learn a little from my mistakes. I focused on the present, on what I could do now and in the future. I try doing the same thing with my writing. Every time I hit the Send button with a query or submission, my heart chatters in my chest and my palms get clammy. But I do it. Fear of rejection isn't an option if I want to make my dreams of being published come true.
What life lessons have you learned?