Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Leaving Legitimacy

So, yesterday's release day was fun and exciting and exhausting. And now I have a cold, ha! Not a lay-me-out cold, so thank goodness for that.

This morning, I was driving home from dropping the kids off at school and heard that song by Lee Ann Womack - I Hope You Dance. You know that one? It brings me to tears every single time I hear it. And I got to thinking. About my books and the trajectory of my career, and how things haven't worked out exactly as I'd thought they would.

Listening to that song and ruminating about my books made me realize that I once thought I wanted Legitimacy. I thought I wanted a spot in society that was approved of, acknowledged as solid and respectable, because I thought that's what would bring me happiness and satisfaction. And, you know, from the outside looking in, it does seem that way. It seems that those who get the stamp of Legitimacy have everything - happiness, money, fulfilling lives, excitement.

And then I got in. I was in that circle of Legitimacy. At first it was exhilarating. I was where everyone wanted to be. People envied where I was, wished they had gotten the contract/deal/call in my place. I felt like I should be thrilled, ecstatic... or at least content and satisfied. But I wasn't. I looked around and realized that Legitimacy was not all it was made out to be. There were so many cracks and tears in the veneer, and what was behind that facade was often disillusioning.

So I stepped out. I won't say it was an easy decision - it's always hard to be a walking stigma, even though that's exactly what I've been most of my life. To walk away from what everyone wants, and what everyone thinks YOU should want is very painful. But when I listened to the faint little voice inside, the one that told me what was True, I knew this was not what I wanted. That this world (and I'm not just talking about publishing here. I'm also talking about all the rules and regulations of patriarchy, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism and everything else that makes being human, and beautifully flawed, unacceptable) did not make room for people like me, and that I couldn't live by the rules set out for me.

I had to define my own happiness. I had to find success on my own terms, and it had to look like what success meant to me. Not what someone else told me it should look like.

I'm proud to say that that is exactly what I've done. With all the bumps and bruises and scars that come with taking one's own path. I plan to keep walking that path, working hard to keep my focus on what's important, and I hope to share lots more stories with folks who enjoy reading them.

Thank you, all my dear readers, for your support, warmth, and encouragement! It's not just a reading loop we have, where I write, you read and offer feedback, and I write again. It's a growth loop--an evolution loop. We share ideas, we broaden our scope of what is possible, we co-create our environment... together. I feel blessed to be able to wake up every morning (most mornings?) and do this :).

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