Life Happens When You Look the Other Way
"Chick lit is smart, fun fiction for and/or about women of all ages. Many of these books are written from a first-person viewpoint, making them a bit more personal and realistic. The plots can range from being very light and fast-paced to being extraordinarily deep, thought-provoking and/or moving." (Rian Montgomery, "What is Chick Lit?" chicklitbooks.com)As you know, I have a slight aversion to the term "chick lit" but this doesn't mean I never read books that fall under this genre. My real issue is that there are certain books written for/or about men of all ages, from a first-person viewpoint etc. that do not get named "dick lit." But that's not what this post is about.
I am in the middle of reading a series of chick lit books that were available for my kindle as a collection. (I'm again not naming the collection or the author because this is not intended as a book review) The first book I liked, because I could see myself in the main character--short, insecure that anyone could possibly love her, afraid to take the leap into following her dreams, holding onto past grievances, things like that. I am in the middle of the second book, however, and I want to shake the protagonist and scream in her face--"There is more to life than finding a man!!!!!!" She started out deciding that she would find Mr. Right, discovered dating isn't easy, has decided to "date like a man", and meanwhile is ignoring anything that would move her life forward as an individual, independent woman. I'm sure, in the end, she will find the perfect man and some balance, but meanwhile I'm not sure I can get through the book.
What does this have to do with the title of this post? How does life happen when you look the other way?
Once upon a time there was a young woman who wasn't very experienced when it came to men. She also wasn't very confident, was a little shy, and sometimes came off as snobby because she was intelligent and didn't hide that fact. She was always the chubby best friend, there to support her friends as their hearts got broken, or encourage everyone as they tried new and scary things. She had one date in high school, and that date took her to the prom (as friends). She never dated in college. After college she decided to just live her life and accept her lone existence. She did an internship at a theatre (where she was too busy and tired to date even if there was anyone around). She got on a plane and flew to Japan, where she lived an interesting life as an expat English teacher for three years. She gained a little confidence, had a few flirtations and one fling, but otherwise was still pretty much alone. She decided to go back to graduate school and pursue an MFA in directing. On her first day, a handsome man walked into a graduate meeting. Wow, he's cute she thought, and then immediately dismissed any possibility from her mind because she was destined to be alone. Besides, between classes, work, shows, and living life in Hawaii, who had time to date?
In December of that year, they went out on their first date, except that she didn't even know it was a date. She thought it was two friends going to the movies together.
[caption id="attachment_7946" align="aligncenter" width="720"] This picture was taken at my house right around the time Nathan first asked me out.[/caption]
A few months later, on Valentine's Day, she wasn't even sure what the relationship status was and had the opportunity to go out with a soon to be Jewish doctor. This soon to be doctor sent her roses and pursued her adamantly. She really had little interest in him, but almost went out with him anyway because this had never happened before. She had never been pursued by anyone, let alone have two men interested at the same time. Ultimately, though, Mr. Jewish doctor was a little creepy and obsessive so . . .
The rest is history.
The point of this story is that when you stop focusing only on one thing, anything can happen. I was reminded of this again yesterday. I had submitted my YA story, P.O.W.ER to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition as a means of avoiding the stuff I hate--trying to find that agent in a haystack that seems beyond my reach. My goal was to, hopefully, at least get past the pitch stage, but of course I'd love to get past round two as well. I had the day of the announcement marked in my calendar, but admit I often wandered over to the website to see if there was any news. For the most part, though, I tried not to think about it and to pursue many other things.
The day of the announcement as to who would move onto round two (400 people per category) was yesterday. I had a meeting to plan a paper presentation that I am making on Friday at a Service Learning Symposium. So I honestly completely forgot about the announcement. That was a good thing, because if I hadn't forgotten I would have spent the day in misery clicking over to the website and doubting every word I've ever written. When my presentation partner, Judy, left, suddenly the announcement popped back into my head. I found an email that said the names were posted. My heart began to pound in my chest. I could feel it speeding up. I clicked over to the list and started scrolling down, through the names listed alphabetically. I was convinced that I would be defeated again.
Now, I know, that if I hadn't distracted myself the results wouldn't have changed. But, at the same time, I feel like if I had focused all my energy on that list yesterday my name would magically have disappeared. I don't know if I will make it any further, but I feel like I was given a surprise gift yesterday--validation that I can write a decent pitch and that someone might actually be interested in my story. It was a gift, because I wasn't expecting it. I was looking the other way, focusing on something else.
I realize that we have to work toward our dreams and goals. However, if we work only toward one specific goal with tunnel vision, we might miss the incredible moments that happen when we aren't looking. On Friday, I am attending a symposium about something I never thought I would be involved in, and that came from allowing myself to try a few things rather than obsessing about only one.
If I were to write chick lit, I would have my character look the other way until magic happens.
On a side note, here's a little video clip that I will be using in my presentation. Enjoy.