Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I’ve been travelling pretty much since March this year on a quest to finish a novel I began in 2013. I worked on my book from Sydney, New York, Boston, Denver, LA, Seattle, Vancouver, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, London, Moscow, St Petersburg, Rome, to Paris. At times, I wondered why on earth I’d ever thought I could be a writer, let alone write a publishable book.
Last week, I sent off a 155 000-word manuscript to be edited and the relief is palpable. There’s more work to be done, but now I have a manuscript to work with.
Elizabeth Gilbert, when struggling to finish a book, came to this conclusion: I never promised the universe that I would write brilliantly, I only promised the universe that I would write. So, I put my head down and sweated through it, as per my vows.
Over the last few months, I’ve been pondering the paths I’ve taken or not taken. At times of doubt, my mind often wanders to how would my life be different if I had stepped onto the path not taken. What would happen if …
- I didn’t break up with my boyfriend at seventeen because it wasn’t a healthy relationship?
- I didn’t stay in Australia and went to university overseas?
- I didn’t study teaching and transferred to physiotherapy?
- I didn’t get married and backpacked around the world?
- I didn’t follow a path of faith?
- I didn’t quit teaching and take up writing?
I’ve had lots of fork in the road moments where each path has good reasons to for me to take them. Some choices are not right or wrong, but equal and different, but a decision has to be made.
I loved teaching and could have happily spent the rest of my working years with students. However, over ten years ago, I quit my job and took up writing full-time.
A loss is inherent in choice. You give up on the path not taken and pain, sorrow, and regret can make you question if you did the right thing.
Giving up teaching took me out of a career where I was respected, qualified, and content. Taking up writing launched me into a rookie space where I was inadequate, unqualified, but excited.
Why did I make that choice? I knew I couldn’t do both teaching and writing justice. One of my values is to give everything I’ve got to whatever I’m doing. I knew that I couldn’t do both jobs well.
When I’m faced with a big decision, I need to find the reason for the choice. Even if the choice turns out to be wrong, I need to know that I made the choice for the right reasons.
Making hard choices can actually be liberating because it helps you define who you truly are and demonstrates the power we all have to shape our lives …if you accept the pain associated with giving up the road not taken, you can embrace the decision you did make and move forward with clarity.
Finishing my manuscript has taken me to the edges of myself. I’ve often wanted to give up, but I made a vow to write. So, I put my head down and sweated it out. I didn’t turn back to the path not taken.
I’m hopping on another plane back to Italy then Africa and will continue the story next month!
See you next month,