Last summer, I watched “The Secret” (yes, watched – didn’t read it, whoops) and it really made me think. The premise, if you aren’t aware (it’s available on Netflix so go watch it) is about the secret to happiness – to getting what you want. It’s about putting our your dreams and goals into the universe and whole-heartedly believing in them. It’s about being grateful for what you have and for what you’re going to get, and it’s about making sure damn near everyone knows what you want. Some people create a vision board, and some people keep a diary. I’ve half-heartedly tried out the secret and I’ve slowly started to see some results. But I think the most important part of that last sentence is the part about it being half-hearted. So, now I am going to share with you my secrets … the things I’ve been forming in my imagination, that will make me go from being half-happy with my life to completely happy. Being completely happy is necessary. I don’t want to life a half happy life. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but at this point in my journey, not everything I want and need to fulfil myself to the truest version of myself has been accomplished. I’m on my way though. I have a plan and can see a realistic journey, and with the help of The Secret, it’s going to happen. I can’t wait! I’ll break it down here into some main categories: career, home, family, and day-to-day.
Career: This one is touchy. I may not make some people happy with what I’m going to say, but this blog is mine and it’s not about making anyone else happy. I love teaching, but it’s not my forever-job. It’s a career, yes, and a damn good one. I’m good at it; I’d even go as far as to say I’m great at it! I teach from my heart and with a touch of common sense; I use the curriculum and provide regular, ongoing and daily feedback. I make lasting, meaningful relationships with my students and I love spending time with them. But that’s more or less what I LOVE about my job. If I could ONLY be in the classroom and TEACH/FACILITATE LEARNING – If I didn’t have to worry about the stress of unions and governments and others opposed views to my own; if I didn’t have to worry about anything but making the kids have a great experience in my classroom; if I didn’t have to worry about anything but the kids and how they learn, then I would be happy to stay forever. But there is so much more that I want to do, and I’m not going to make it 30 years in a classroom and still be sane – or happy.
One of the careers I’d love to take on is still within the world of teaching. It’s all about taking the classroom and making it suit more of what is needed than what we have believed so much in up until now. I’ll be working on the Program Team, or in a board level position, in some way or another, for a few years, before the next part of my plan takes shape. Yes, I may have sounded overly cynical and cranky about teaching above, but in addition to the students, it’s the theoretical, pedagogical stuff that I am in love with, and working at a board level would allow me to take my own beliefs and feather them across a broader level; I’d be taken more seriously (maybe?) than I am within the small pond of one school, and I’d be happy to know I made some differences here and there.
But here’s what I see after that, and what I’ve been working at for some time now. I’m in the process of writing my second novel. The first one wasn’t published and still needs to be edited; it’s not good enough to be published but it was a good practice shot. This one is better. This one will be published. I’ll be finished the first draft in March, as I’ve been abiding by a strict schedule. I’ll then begin work on my first chapter book (different from a novel, for those of you who don’t follow industry standards), which will be completed in its first draft form by May 1st. Then, I’ll go back to the upper-middle grade novel and revise it. It will be sent out to agents by September and I hope to taken on for representation within a year (maybe 2). Agents tend to sign less than 1% of the submissions they receive, however my work is advanced for a new writer (as one agent already noted in a rejection letter!)
So, once my book is published, there will be more to come. I expect that within ten years, I’ll be finally making some money writing and will sell out – movies, here I come. Well, not me, but at least one of my books. At this point, I’ll be able to say goodbye to teaching in a traditional sense, and move on from working in a system-level position, and focus solely on my writing. Many people in Internet land have an unrealistic, fantasy vision of what being a writer is. I don’t.
Being a writer is damn hard. Every idea is unoriginal, and it is the writer’s job to spin it in such a way that it can be called unique. Ideas are borrowed and tweaked and merged with dozens of others until they resemble something valuable and “original.” Grammar is crucial and a voice is required. Finding both of those are challenging. Finding time and drive and motivation for a job that was once exciting is nearly impossible (hence the beauty of scheduled writing blocks). Hearing that your book isn’t good enough, isn’t the right fit, or is just no good is heart breaking. But a writer – a real writer – takes it in, cries a little, and then goes back to make it better. As a writer, you live in a fantasy world, only coming out for brief moments to interact with the real world. Deep inside of a manuscript, that is a whole other challenge. Plotting out the best book ever only to find as you write it that the stubborn characters don’t want to go your own way is as frustrating as a naughty student or kid who doesn’t do what you want, when you want. But it’s okay. Because I LOVE writing. I LOVE the adventure of it. I feel alive when my finger tips are whizzing over a keyboard and my mind is spinning so fast that I don’t even know what is going on. Then I read it, and think … did I really write this? I look at the clock in amazement and wonder how sixty minutes flew by in what felt like five minutes of writing.
So my career will be what my hobby currently is. I’ll write. I’ll write every day. I’ll wake up, take the dogs for their walk, work out, and have breakfast. Then it’s off to my writing space: I picture a small cabin behind the house, with a peastone path, my raised vegetable gardens on either side. I’ll open the door and smell the fresh cut wood (because it has a wood burning stove for the winter). I’ll leave the screen door open in the summer and the dogs will lounge in the corner. There’s a small corner that resembles a kitchen – a sink, a small fridge and a microwave – because I’m at work, and I’m not going home until the job is done. I’ll take a look at my chalk wall, make some notes about the story, and then sit my comfy spinning chair in front of my gorgeous wooden table, and get writing. Further back there’s my art stuff, because I’m not only going to be able to put out novels for kids & teens, but picture books as well (I’m already at 3, so I know I’m capable of it).
Around noon I’ll break for lunch, if I can tear myself away from the story. Depending on where I am in the book, my day will look differently. But most days, I’ll break for lunch, stroll around the yard with the dogs, and then get back to the office. I’ll check for emails, update my blog, and make any calls or emails to the agent, the publisher, whoever. I’ll take an hour or two to read a book, to keep my mind fresh, as that’s part of the job of the writer – to be a reader. I’ll make any other notes I need to on the day’s project, and then I’ll move on. Some days I won’t be at the office all day, though, because that teacher inside of me still lives. I’ll make a day trip to visit a school and give a book talk and workshops. That’s going to be the fun stuff – the stuff that makes the job look easy, when in fact, it is beautifully hard.
When the kids get home, I’ll head inside the house, and talk with them about their day. I’m not sure where Steph will be – I mean, if I’m raking in big bucks because we sold the movie rights, she might just decide to stop working, or stop teaching full time, or to open that bakery she’s been dreaming of. Who knows? But I know that I’ll be ready with a snack and a chat for the kids.
Home: We’ll still live in this part of Ontario, but we’ll have purchased a few acres and built our forever home.
It’s a modest plan, but perfect for us. It’s got 4 bedrooms, and a luxurious master bathroom suite. There’s a great room which will serve as a living room without a TV, as the bonus room in the partial upstairs (over the garage) will be for TV, and we’ll finish the basement with a rec room, 3 more bedrooms (which will serve as a bedroom for child #4, a guest room, and a general-use office), a bathroom, 2 storage rooms (one for teaching stuff, one for home stuff like Christmas decorations), and 2 open work-rooms off the rec room. The work rooms will be for Steph and myself; one of them will be for Steph’s scrap booking stuff, and will be open to the rec room (3 walls only), and the other will be my paint studio, with a sink, and a half wall – the other half of that front wall will be done in plexi glass, so that I don’t spray paint all over the couches. We’re going to modify the entrance upstairs, so that the flex room in the layout plan is actually half the depth, which will be used a mudroom; the closet in that room will be extended into the kitchen pantry; and the rest of the space saved by shrinking the flex room will be built in shelving for all our books, in the great room. We may put up a separate garage later with an apartment for future long-term guests, but only when we can afford that. I think that it would be great to use half of a garage like that as a gallery for all of my artwork, or for Steph to base herself out of if she decided to pursue some other sort of job. 🙂
We’ll also have some bush on our land, and will clear our own trails. That will be fun to do with the kids on weekends, and we can take the dogs and a potential horse, snow mobile and four wheeler out there for regular fresh air and activity. I can’t wait! The kids will have so much fun discovering the forest, like I did when I was a kid. That’s the best classroom – nature.
Family: Steph and I are getting married in July! We already have a booming family of furry children, but we’re excited about growing some humans, too. We want to have four kids, and we really don’t care if they’re boys or girls. As long as we have happy, healthy babies, I’m happy. Even if they aren’t healthy, we would still be able to handle the needs, and that makes me feel relieved and ready. I’m looking forward to spending quality time with them, and watching every second as they grow. We’ll be working on these kids not too long after we get hitched, so by the time we build our dream house and I’m working full time as a writer, they’ll have still experienced a normal life in a not-so-perfect house, with regularly stressed out parents, and will be able to appreciate the shift when we move to a bigger, better house, and have more time to spend with them, and are all around happier, because we’ll be following our own dreams and hopes; which is exactly what I would expect my own children to do. I can’t be a poor role model for these future kids, so I certainly can’t dread waking up and going to work when they’re able to understand it. That’s how futures and attitudes are tainted.
Day To Day: While the regular stresses of every day life will certainly be present, Steph and I have grown so much stronger in the past few years that I can only expect to be the model of strength as we continue to grow. I’m looking forward to the regular cleaning of the house, grooming of the trails, walks with the dogs, continued work outs and challenges, to finding a better life with diabetes, and to having spare time for my family and friends (because right now my spare time is spent doing what I’ll be doing as a career by then). I’ve had a phenomenal life so far. I’ve discovered myself through camp; I’ve had ups and downs health-wise but am on the right track now; I’ve had so many financial struggles but feel so much more in control these days; I’ve found a career before most would, though that makes me feel guilty for all the angst I throw at it sometimes, and because I’d quite frankly rather be writing; I’ve improved as an artist, ran an art festival; I’ve published 2 books and had a third with my artwork in it; I’ve got my own website that’s actually pretty decent; I’ve made a name for myself in teaching (dunno how!); I’ve gardened and raised dogs and found my soul mate; all of this before I’m even 28 years old. So why stop now? I’m so excited for everyday until my secret is revealed in real life; and I won’t stop working to get there, ever. That’s my secret.