Saturday, March 19, 2011

Waiting for my real life to begin

This past weekend I attended a Colin Hay concert (you probably know him best as the singer for Men at Work).  He's AMAZING in concert -- hilarious and talented.  Seriously, if you ever have the chance to see him I highly recommend it!

So one of the songs he played was, Waiting For My Real Life to Begin, which is probably familiar to a lot of y'all:

And as I sat there listening to him the words really began to sink in and I thought about my life and where I am.  I've been asked a lot recently about how I became a writer -- when I knew I wanted to become one and what I did about it.  I know I've shared a lot of that story here before: I never realized I *could want* to become an author until I read an interview with a romance author in which she said she started writing when she read a book and thought "Hey, I could do that."  I read those words and thought, "Wait, I could do that too!"

But I was in high school.  I felt too young to write a book.  So I waited.  And when I graduated from college I started working on my first book and after a couple of years I put that aside to attend law school (which I don't regret in the slightest seeing as how that's where I met my husband... and also? I just really loved law school -- call me a nerd :)

I always thought I was too busy to do anything else in law school other than be a student.  AHAHAHAHA!  Once I started practicing law I realized just what it was to be busy.  And I had this moment where I thought: I don't want to be doing this, practicing law, for the rest of my life.  So I asked myself: if I could do anything, what would it be?  The answer was easy: an author.

The next question became: what was I going to do about it?  Because I really was busy, probably busier than I'd ever been at any other time in my life.  And that's when I realized I had a choice: go after my dream of being a writer or let it go.  I didn't see a sense in always saying to myself, "This is what I want more than anything else but I just can't be bothered to do anything about it."

Because there's a part of me that thought: what would have happened if I'd just kept writing through law school?  Looking back I realized that I had the time -- I could have done it.  I just didn't.  I made excuses.   If I'd written all through law school maybe I'd have gotten published, maybe I wouldn't have, but at least I'd have been farther along towards my ultimate goal.

And I realized: I don't want to wake up in five years and ask myself the same question.

It's funny how we do that with dreams: put them off.  I wonder if we're afraid to chase them down because we fear they won't taste as sweet or because we're scared we can't catch them.  I'm not going to lie, there's a terror in holding your dream in your hand because if you break it, you have only yourself to blame.

It's easy to tuck your chin to your chest and plow through life.  I do it: focus on today's tasks and then tomorrow's tasks, and then the ones after that as the days roll past beneath me.  Listening to Colin Hay sing the words, "I'm waiting for my real life to begin," made me step back and look at the larger picture -- how all the days piece together.  You hear all these cliches about how life isn't a dress rehearsal, etc., and often they're meaningless but then there are those moments when you understand exactly.

I'm thankful that five years ago I decided not to wait for my life to somehow arrange itself to my liking.   That I'm not waking up today and wondering, "What if I'd just started writing a book five years ago?  Where would I be?"


Anonymous said...

This is going to sound silly, but thank you for this. It's just exactly what I needed to hear. Pretty song included.

CLR said...

Thank you, Carrie. I needed that song. I needed your thoughts to clarify my own. I have meant to ask you a million times, how did you finally just launch? I need to jump and see what happens at the bottom. Thank you.

Angie Kroll said...

Thanks, Carrie! I look forward to meeting you on Sunday in Cincy. I'm bringing a close friend's teenagers with me - we're very excited!

Celeste said...

Beautiful post, Carrie. So many times we get hung up on the daily drudge, we forget that we create our reality in SO many ways. And what a gorgeous song :) Thanks for sharing that.

Delchick42 said...

Wow, is really all I can think. Thank you for this blog post. I can truly relate and I'm going to go for my dreams. The song is perfect.

Akila said...

Carrie - I, too, am a Duke Law grad (actually, I'm guessing that I must have graduated right around the same time you did --- I was a 2004 grad.) I worked at big law for 4 years, spent a year clerking for a judge, and then decided to leave practice altogether because I couldn't figure out exactly what it was that was missing from my life. My husband and I were anyway planning a round-the-world trip so I decided to focus on travel and figure out the whole career thing when I got back.

Around the same time, I saw a mention about your book in the Duke Law magazine and e-mail. I looked you up and started reading your blog. I had always wanted to be a writer --- heck, I've got so many unfinished manuscripts on my computer, I could wallpaper a house with them. But, I never thought that I could be a writer. People like me aren't writers, that's what I used to say to myself. You really helped me realize that I could do this . . . that ordinary (or perhaps not so ordinary) lawyers could be writers.

I am now almost done with my first draft of my mainstream fiction novel about a lawyer who encounters the supernatural, and am getting ready to revise, revise, and revise some more (my favorite part, actually).

Anyhow, this long-winded comment is to say Thank you. I feel like my real life is beginning now and your story has helped me on my way.