“It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits.” —Alice in Wonderland
I often feel like Alice in Wonderland these days. I had always thought that with age came some kind of clarity and maybe a little more control over my life. But the older I get, the more I realize that control is just an illusion. Even things that are planned meticulously have blips. So I’ve decided to try to be open to change—even last minute ones, as best I can.
And we really must be.
Because things in this life are strange.
During a recent business trip, I found myself overwhelmed, pleasantly surprised, and often not where I wanted to be, which ended up being the perfect place for me at that moment. Follow that? heh.
One place I was happy to be was across the table from a good friend and colleague, drinking sangria and eating tapas. She is another cookbook author and food writer. We weren’t exactly bemoaning the state of things in publishing, just sort of witnessing them and wondering what’s next.
A few years ago, I stopped pitching articles because many of my editors were just gone. Publications disappeared as well. So it seemed a waste of my time. Now, there is starting to be a little more opportunity—but for exactly the kind of article a writer would make say $2000 for a few years back, many publishers are offering to pay $100—this for a well-seasoned pro, someone whose copy needs little editing, whose facts have been researched impeccably, and someone who will meet deadlines.
And so it goes.
This is not how it’s supposed to be. But it’s often those “supposed-to-be’s” that get us into trouble.
So I am back to feeling like Alice and the wondering if anything goes according to our own plans. The world is nonsensical. And none of us could have predicted this crazy economy or the fact that many magazines and newspapers would not make it.
But for many of us the problem is deeper than that.
It’s also the belief system that forged us. We’re told if we get our education, pay our dues, make our plans and stick to them, we will succeed—at least in providing for our families. Suddenly, our hard work and education is not exactly enough anymore. Or not enough in the way we had imagined it would be.
My friend and I still have no answers, even after a few hours of sangria and tapas in Bethesda. We are survivors—both of us. But we have been shaken to our core. This is true for many of us, not just writers. Many people have it worse than we do, believe me.
But the reverse of that is that we are both being stretched to find a new way—and we will. Here I am, writing novels and loving it, learning to write apps, (which they did not have when I was in college, heh), and self-publishing an e-book. All things I never dreamed about in my youth (except the writing a novel bit.)
You just never know where life will take you. Embracing change is not as easy as it sounds on a Hallmark card. But you can only move forward. Never backwards.
Expectations can be a trap. The best I can do is to be as flexible as I can. The business trip sort of became a metaphor for where I am in my life. You can only plan so much. Try to be prepared. Make good connections with a few good people. But always be open to unexpected possibilities.