Sunday, June 24

The Future is Now

The topic this week is supposed to be the future, as in the future post-graduation etc. But this is going to be an old-fogey blog post and I hope no one will mind.

The last time I graduated from anything was college in 1983. (Although my next milestone, my forty-fifth birthday, is coming up on July 6, so I hope you've already planned your shopping for that grand event.) When I graduated in 1983, I was twenty years old and I had no idea what I was going to do next. I'd been a psych major, but somewhere along the way I realized that even though I'd planned on being a psychologist since I was twelve, that career was not for me. I had enough English credits that my major could have just as easily swung that way - indeed, if I'd pursued it hard enough, I could have got credit for a double major - but I can be perverse, so since I had set out to be a psych major that was the degree I wanted to have. But, having graduated, what then?

With nothing else on the horizon, I got a job in an independent booksrore. I did love my time there, time that stretched out for the better part of eleven years, but it turns out that wasn't what I really wanted to do with my life. What I really wanted was to be a writer. That's why I finally left that job in November 1994, turning my back on a month's paid vacation a year, a nice salary and full medical benefits to take a chance on my dream.

That dream took a long time in achieving realization if you define "realization" as "publication of a novel" as so many of us do. It took nearly eight years before I sold a book, nearly nine before that book was published. Despite the years of struggle, I've never once been sorry. Nor am I sorry, on some levels, that the journey took so long; I learned so much along the way and I'm a firm believer in enjoying the journey as much as you can, particularly on the off chance you will never reach your destination.

It's good to know what you want in life, although sometimes the knowledge of what that thing is can take a long time in coming.

What is not good is to live your life as though your "real life" will start after some milestone happens.

We spend so much of our lives believing "my real life will start after I lose ten pounds; then I will be happy"; "my real life will start once I get a book published; then I will be happy." In truth, I may never lose that ten pounds. As for the other, there are always big things all of us dream about, but it's always possible a meteor will fall on our heads before we achieve those things.

So, what to do?

Don't delay living. Don't delay joy. The world is filled with enough sadness - war, disease - we could spend our days and nights crying if we chose. There's so much to cry about. But there's so much to take joy in too and it's my belief that each day in each life should celebrate that fact.

What's in my immediate future?

I'm going to a bris in a few hours and it will be the first my seven-year-old daughter has ever attended. Yesterday, she wanted to know what a bris was.

"It's when they cut off a bit of the baby boy's penis," I told her.

"No," she said. "Really?"

"Yes, really," I said. "That's why, in the Jewish religion, we have a prayer just for females that essentially says, 'Thank God for making me a girl and not a boy.'"

"Really?" she said. "That's the reason why?"

"Probably not," I conceded, "but it seems like a pretty good reason to me."

She agreed.

So that's my immediate future today.

What's in my writing future?

I'm juggling a few writing projects at once - tween, YA, adult - and writing essays, short stories and blogs between the cracks. It's a good life. And I'm greatly anticipating the January release of my next YA novel, Scenes from My Suburban Life.

OK, I was going to insert a picture of the cover here, but I spent a half hour trying with no luck, so now I'm frustrated and giving up. Anyway, Scenes from My Suburban Life is about a girl whose novelist mother gets crushed to death by a stack of Harry Potter books; in the aftermath, she and her father move to CT where she becomes involved in a sort-of mystery involving an online predator.



Erica Orloff said...

John Lennon said it best.

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

I try to get my kids to live as Buddhists. We try to stay "in the moment." When we're someplace fun, like a park, and they say, "How long are we staying?" I give them a look, and then, all six of us say it together. "Stay in the moment!" Then we all laugh. The moment is all we've got. :-)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Erica, I have no doubt you are a great mom.

bevrosenbaum said...

Immediate future: my son's graduation from elementary school. (Sniff, sniff. My baby's all grown up!) Future future: hopefully more books!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Congratulations to Baby Boy, Bev, and fingers crossed on those future books!

Kelly Parra said...

My immediate future is always about the writing. The next project, the next scene, and with all the life stuff in between! :) :)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Keep writing, Kelly!

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