Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Be Careful of Living the Dream

Crusie/Mayer, deep in the throes of a long, exhausting book tour, have been posting about the pros (meeting wonderful people, selling lots of books) and cons (exhaustion, being together too much, being ill) of their success. There is a statement/response they keep making that is very funny in context:

Him: "Living the Dream."
Her: "Bite me."

The woman who writes the blog at amalah.com has an infant son and just decided to quit her job, pull him from day care, and be a working-at-home mother (WAHM). She's been posting about the comments she's been getting, and how most of them seem to be giving her backhanded compliments that imply she was a Devil Mother for not making that decision in the first place.

At Ciar Cullen's blog, her MIL is doing fun psychic readings. I asked if the upcoming big change regarding my writing career and family life will be what I hope it to be. She said "Madam Philomena says you already know the answer to this question (sorry, I hate those answers too). The changes will be what you make of them, and you control how you see them. If you choose joy, the outcome will be joyous. *Philomena wants to understand why you are not comfortable embracing your own successes. She suggests you do so externally (for show), but aren't internalizing your true accomplishments. Only when you admit you are a success to yourself will you find peace."

I know there are people out there who have unrealistic expectations. Or maybe they're incomplete expectations. They want something, and think when they get it life will be perfect, but then they DO get it and they find everything is not all wonder and joy. There are bad things. Not fun things. It's just as hard as it was before.

I'm not one of those people. I know that come June 8 (well, June 12, I'm giving myself the weekend to celebrate!), it will be all up to me to make sure my choices lead to success. I know there will be hard work involved, and some things that are not fun, or not enjoyable. My writing career is no different than any other career. All careers have pros and cons. They all have stressors. But THIS career gives me more fulfillment than any other. There's more reward than a paycheck every two weeks. So I'm more than willing to take on those cons. I know they're there, and they won't suprise me.

I'm making this choice, to be home with my kids and be a full-time writer, because it's smart, not because society says it's better. Logistics allow it, and make it more attractive than continuing to work in the job I'm working in. See my previous post about my kids--being in day care has done them not ONE iota of harm. They've probably been MUCH better off not being with me full time. I know I have been.

*It's funny that Madame Philomena would say this. The "reading" is done all in fun, but this is pretty insightful. I just found out today that Kira's Best Friend is a finalist in the More Than Magic contest. My first response was excitement (well, actually, my first response was dumbfoundedness, because I forgot I entered). Then I checked out my talented co-finalists, and decided this is as far as I'll go. I don't expect to win.

So is that the same thing? Am I uncomfortable embracing my successes? I always just considered myself a pragmatist. I love my successes. I hug them and squeeze them and love them and call them George. And then I set them on a shelf and seek the next one, while explaining why the success is not such a Big Deal.

Maybe part of it is that pseudo-Catholic upbringing that taught me you don't toot your own horn, you hide your light under a bushel, you don't brag, you don't boast (yeah, I like TOAST!--sorry, unless you listen to a lot of drive-time radio, you won't get that part). I'm certain that part of it is pragmatism, though. I am content with this success, and the success that will be mine on June 8, and all that will come after.

But I don't think striving for more success and being content are mutually exclusive. I'll always be striving for bigger and better successes that give me more of what I want, both materially (I must have NFL Sunday Ticket!) and personally (the joy of writing is purely internal, as is the joy of recognition of that writing).

I guess what I'm trying to say is: Bring me that Dream. I can take it.

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