The Greek philosopher, Epicetus, once said:
“Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.”
It’s a bit like that old saying that the secret to happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have. Can we learn to live like that, I wonder? It’s not always easy, but I think I might be getting there at last!
When I started out on this writing journey I enjoyed the writing for itself, for the sheer escapism that creating whole worlds and casts of characters in my imagination gave me. But then I decided to get a bit more serious about it. I was told, and not just by my mum, that my first novel might have what it takes to find a publisher. That was when the fun started to ebb away. I wasn’t writing for the love of it anymore, I was writing to please someone else – an agent, a publisher, a reviewer – and, guess what, almost every single opinion was at odds. I wrote myself in knots and lost sight of what I wanted.
Then I went on holiday to a beautiful place in Western France with family and friends. I was ready to escape from everything, confused by the offers that had come in for my book and beginning to question whether I wanted to be published at all. I was so scared of making the wrong decision, so scared of making a decision at all, that it was paralyzing me.
I didn’t write on that trip, but spent the time drinking, talking, kayaking down peaceful rivers and laughing hard – as though my life was going well. And slowly it all became clear; it really was. It might not have been as I’d mapped out in my head how my life would go, but it was perfect in its own completely unexpected way. I was with my family. Not a traditional one perhaps, but a modern ‘yours, mine and ours’ family. Three gorgeous children brought together by my husband and I, and the one we added together – my wonderful blended family who get on better than almost any other I know. I never expected this, never thought I’d have to marry twice to get it right, but I truly wouldn’t have it any other way.
I didn’t want to get cancer, who would? But I did and it changed my life in all kinds of ways I would never have imagined. It showed me what really mattered and the people to whom I mattered too. It made me re-evaluate my life, giving up a job that was sucking the joy out of everything, and started me off on this writing journey of mine. Which, I guess, brings me back full circle. Could the tranquillity of Western France solve the writing dilemma for me too? I think it did.
Since coming home I’ve stopped worrying about what might be or what might happen if I make a certain choice. I’ve now signed a deal with a publisher who are making some of my dreams come true and instinctively know how to make it fun for their authors. I’ll be back with the details in September when I have a bit more to reveal, but for now I know Epicetus was right… want events to happen as they do and your life will go well.