Thursday, August 11, 2011

“The Next Step”

            I few weeks ago, I gave a draft of my first novel to a friend to read and critique. We met the other night over dinner to discuss my next step—finding a literary agent. Suddenly, the manuscript sitting on my desk took on a different importance as I started an internet search to find someone to represent me and my work. The book, written years ago and boxed away for a dozen years, offered me the perfect escape last summer as I rediscovered the characters and their adventure. I became a texture artist, adding additional details and descriptions to every page, until I created the renderings I envisioned for every scene. I lulled myself into complacency as long as I kept tweaking each chapter. But now that the book is finally finished, I know I cannot let it sit for another twelve years on the corner of my desk. I cannot hide it away in a box, stuffed under old shoe boxes in the back of my closet.
            I must take the next step. As with all aspects of life, moving into an unknown territory fills me with contradictory feelings. Change brings with it wonderful opportunities, but also unpredictable responsibilities. I somehow had the mistaken belief that once I moved into my fifties, I’d be making fewer changes in my life. However, within the last couple of years, I’ve retired from a thirty-year career and moved my mother into our home to become her caregiver. Breathing new life into the book drafted years ago has led me to the next step as a writer—experimenting and refining my voice and style, rediscovering my love of creating poetry, and meeting the challenge of blogging on a daily basis. I stand now and look back at the steps I’ve taken over the last few months and realize that I can only move forward—even if the next step holds the possibility of disappointment.
            Next steps never bothered me in my youth. I always clearly imagined multiple trails that could or would lead me to my final destination. Often, I found one way blocked with unforeseen obstacles. Sometimes, I plowed through these challenges to reach a clearing in the path. Occasionally, I backtracked and found a different route to the same journey’s end. A few times, I altered my course dramatically and found myself on an unexpected track far lovelier than my original choice.
            As I begin this newest passage in my life, I find that I poke along the path at a slower pace and with more caution than I did in my past. I don’t want to waste energy by recklessly dynamiting a barrier, nor do I want to turn around and head back whenever unexpected events block my progress. I like to see myself steadfast and steady, climbing cautiously over the rocks in my way. If I get tired, I’ll perch on the highest boulder in the pile and enjoy the view. The next step in my travels carries no timeline, so I can meander at my own pace.  

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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