My daughter is here in Austin to start graduate school at the University of Texas. She chose UT over schools like MIT and Berkeley and Princeton and Stanford. Yes, I’m bragging and she won’t be happy about me doing it. The thing is, what I’m most proud of is how she made her choice. She took into account who she is and what she wants to do and how best to do that—regardless of what the rest of the world might think. She has a self-awareness that I wish I had had at her age.
So she’s here and it’s wonderful but it has put me a bit behind on a few things.
How does all of this tie to writing? First, that life happens to all writers and it can put us behind schedule. The more we allow for that as we plan ahead, the better. Second, my daughter has achieved so much success because she didn’t listen to conventional wisdom. Starting in high school, she has followed her heart and made choices based on what she passionately cares about AND used every bit of knowledge and research available to make sure that her choices fit with her long term goals. That’s a good strategy for all of us—including writers.
What we do has a better chance of standing out if we care deeply about what we’re writing. We have the best chance of successful careers as writers if we take into account our long term goals and our personalities as well as the specific nature of a given project when we choose which agents and editors to target with our work. And we’re likely to be happier as well.
When we care passionately about and believe in what we are doing, we will do the work necessary to make it succeed. We will persevere even when we run into roadblocks. We will be able to “sell” our work to others because our faith in it will be unmistakable to them. And we are far more likely to see possibilities that others might not.
So...I’m thrilled my daughter is in Austin. I hope to soon have her boxes out of my “classroom” room in my house and into her apartment. I look forward to spending time with her. And I know she will be a visible reminder to me of the power in going after our dreams.