My life is ripe with choices. Some of these choices are fat on the vine: juicy, sun-kissed, and just waiting for me to reach out and pluck them. These maturated choices are easy – shall I have chicken and rice for dinner, or that container of cream cheese frosting? They are also often just plain obvious – should I stay up until 4:30 a.m. reading The Hunger Games, or should I try to get some sleep? (The answer is to read, of course. The answer is always to read.)
Many choices are not quite ripened and seem completely out of reach. In fact, these harder nuggets make their home on a branch that stretches right over the edge of a cliff. To pick these little suckers would require my taking a major pleap (Pink leap of faith) while uttering a prayer that, when I land, the thing will still be held tightly in my grasp. These greener choices are often difficult: should I apply for a master’s degree, or just plant my rump in a chair and finish my novel? Lastly there are the choices that have turned to a rather grainy mush under my feet and stained my toes permanently purple; these little gobs are pretty hard to salvage.
It’s the more difficult choices dangling in front of me that keep me up at night (well, that and the twelve glasses of iced tea I’ve consumed throughout the day). For example, this master’s degree decision has me twisted and perplexed and I’d like nothing more than to have the ability to email God. Instead I’ve seeked guidance from the next best person: a publisher.
About a week or so ago I was on an #askYAed chat on Twitter and, while I’m somewhat new to the Twitterverse, I have managed to follow agents, authors, publishers, and editors so that I may hang on their every word. I had never spoken up in any of these “ask editor” chats but somehow I felt compelled to ask the professionals whether they thought I should go for the master’s or write. The wonderful Elizabeth Law answered me, and as I read her words I imagined the beams of brilliant light shining forth from her head and a Gregorian chant playing in the background. After I detached myself from the 15 foot beam on my ceiling and was able to stop chanting, “A publisher just spoke to me! A publisher just spoke to me!” I read her response and burned it forever into my brain. Ms. Law said, “You’re wrestling with a big question. Look into your heart, what do you want to do, what’s right for you...”
What does my heart want to do? My heart wants to write -- my soul, my fingers, every part of me. But as Elizabeth (may I call her by her first name? -faints-) pointed out, “If you were pursuing a master’s in creative writing, wouldn’t that keep your ass in the chair? Wouldn’t you be writing?” I didn’t have a concrete answer yet but, due to this beautiful advice from a demi-god, I had at least stopped to look into my heart.
The next day I visited Owning Pink and by hell if Pinkie Dana Theus hadn’t written an article called “Mojo: What Gives You MOre JOy?” Wow! What brings me joy? (Sometimes I’m not sure if that’s joy I’m feeling, or too much caffeine.) In regards to the master’s decision I just don’t know. I definitely feel joyful when I’m in school, though writing academic essays makes me want to vomit large chunks the size of grapefruits out of my nostrils. Writing, on the other hand, brings me a joy I experience with nothing else. It seems simple then, to make the decision to just write, but as Elizabeth Law said, I can write while I’m in a program. In fact it would sort of be my job to plant my arse every day. I could receive invaluable knowledge in a creative writing program.
At this point I’m no closer to a decision but at least now I’m rooting around in my heart, tossing aside rubbish, and thinking about what brings me MOre JOy.
I decided to at least look into some master’s programs and I wasn’t particularly filled with glee over what I found. Most programs won’t accept writers of young adult fantasy. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that 99% of these programs are looking for writers of literary fiction and they tend to “look down” upon writers of “popular fiction.” I love me some literary fiction, I get it, but the story that’s been ricocheting around in my head and taken up residence in my heart is a work of fantasy. However, I did find two programs that have tracks for “popular fiction.” Hmmm… do I want my fiction to be popular, or would I rather write a literary work that’s called “edgy” by six people in the English department at Nob University? (Hint: This is one of those easy choices.) Besides, there are great fantasy writers out there whose work I consider to be literary. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is a literary work of genius and, in my humble opinion, just happens to contain elements of fantasy.
Figuring out the college stuff also begs the question, where do I want to plant myself in this chair of mine. England, studying under the Master Pullman? Ireland, an amazing setting for a fantasy writer? Then I thought that perhaps San Francisco is the right place for me. Two of my closest friends live there. Owning Pink, and what it stands for, makes its home there. Nah, I thought, I don’t want to live in California, too many earthquakes.
Well, so much for that reasoning. It’s as if God were sitting up there in His massive black leather recliner, looking like an ethereal Jean Luc Picard, the arm of His chair covered by a panel of green buttons and red knobs which control everything from sprouting daffodils to major weather changes. He chuckled and lifted the glass case on a shiny orange lever and pulled it forward and as I sat at my desk in Ohio... the room began to shake. Someone in Ottawa must have needed a bigger jolt than I because a 5.0 magnitude earthquake started there and traveled over five hundred miles at fourteen thousand miles per hour to let me know that California isn’t the only place where I’d experience earthquakes. As I sat there, the door swaying, the earth literally moving under my feet, I felt connected to our Mother as she grumbled, adjusted, and shifted Herself, getting more comfortable as she knitted a string of daisies and tulips.
I relate to Her, I just don’t know where to shift myself and where I’d be more comfortable. Plus, I can’t knit.
Ah Pinkies... what would you do? How do you make these big decisions when you’ve heard/felt so many signs and received such amazing advice but you’re still unsure? What are the juicy decisions you’re currently grappling with? Do you have any of these hard green choices to make?
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