[Are you on the path to leading the life you want by setting goals or merely dreaming? In today’s guest post, Allison Winn Scotch (New York Times Bestselling Author of Time of My Life, The Department of Lost and Found), shares the direction she took to professional dreams, then goals, and why her new main character needs a wake-up call to discover The One That I Want — coming June 1, 2010.]
One of the questions I’m most often asked, now that I’m fortunate enough to earn my keep as a novelist, is, “Did you always want to be a writer,” and I always feel a little awkward answering that because my answer isn’t a definite yes. I feel like, as fortunate as I am, shouldn’t I have been striving toward this goal with every fiber of my being since I was a kid? I mean, let’s be clear: there are folks out there who feel that way, who would chop off a finger to be a published author. So when my cheeks redden a little at this question, that’s why – I love this job and part of me always hoped to do it, but it was one of several aspirations I had for myself, not the only one.
The reason I even raise this confession is because striving toward goals – both big and small – is an underlying theme of my new book, The One That I Want, and in writing it, I was able to give a lot of time and focus as to my own goals, and to what those goals have been throughout my life. And it also made me realize how easily these goals are thrown off-track. My heroine, Tilly, had aspirations for herself – maybe not to light the world on fire, but enough to light her inner-self on fire, and somewhere along the way, she loses these aspirations, without even recognizing that she’s done so. And while I didn’t relate to Tilly on a lot of levels, I can see how easily our hopes for ourselves slip through our fingers without even noticing it.
I’m lucky: I’ve always been fairly bullheaded and with a maiden name like Winn, I grew up in a household where my father’s frequent question was “What’s your last name?,” to which I’d begrudgingly answer “Winn” and role my eyes. But the lessons were there: he taught me not to compromise, to raise the bar high. Still though, when I graduated from college and had not one clue what to do with my life, my parents urged me to become an investment banker, like my older brother. I dragged my heels and made my rounds of interviews but knew a small part of me would die if I had to wake up and put on a suit and analyze numbers every day. I wanted to be an actress, wanted to sing, perform, and yes, write, as I’d done for my college newspaper and throughout my life, but making a living as a writer seemed, well, IMPOSSIBLE, and having graduated from an Ivy League school, making a living as an actress seemed irresponsible somehow, so I compromised and got a job in PR.
I lasted eight months. And then I quit to pursue acting anyway.
That day, when I went into my boss’s office and gave notice, that spark, that fire was reborn, the one that extinguished in Tilly. Quitting was exhilarating, I could literally feel it in my blood, that I was going to chase my dream despite the fact that all logic dictated otherwise. I won’t bore you with the details of how I got from there to here, but taking that first step – recognizing that tuning into my goals – was critical. (Or tuned into my dreams – I do think there’s a difference, and one that I realized eventually: goals are pragmatic, whereas dreams are less so…a conclusion I definitely came to when I finally opted to stop acting.) But back to my story of when I was 23: I was doing it -I was pointing myself in the direction of the life I wanted to lead, and that’s all I could ask of myself. Really, I think that’s all anyone can ask of themselves. It’s all that I wanted Tilly to ask of herself too, and without revealing too much, eventually, she realizes that we’re all worthy of looking toward our goals, whether they’re to be a New York Times bestselling author or to be able to run a 5k without stopping. The small goals can accumulate and result a big goal: living the life you hoped for. I’m still tweaking – I think we’re all still tweaking – but I think half the battle is being aware of your goals and that setting them for yourself is critical. Small ones, big ones, just put them out there for yourself, and then, ready, set, go.
The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Emily Winslow’s
The Whole World in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Presenting Debutante Emily Winslow and The Whole World. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.
The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Barrie Summy’s
I So Don’t Do Makeup in a random drawing to anyone who comments only on this specific post, Barrie Summy and I So Don’t Do Makeup. Comments left on other posts during the week are not entered into the contest. The deadline is Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post. If you enter, please return Thursday to possibly claim your book.