Usually, my family and I return from Walt Disney World vacations with loads of memories, giddy smiles, tired feet, and skinnier wallets. This time, I came back inspired by a simple moment potent enough to steal the breath from my lungs.
The Disney day started simple enough, with my troop of lovable weirdos marching straight to Space Mountain where my youngest daughter would ride it for the very first time. Waiting our turn, she was a bundle of nerves. The seconds ticking by before we could board, she wanted to know exactly what to expect. Would it be dark? Would anything jump out at her? Did the ride go upside down? Was there an emergency exit in case she changed her mind? Like many of us, she felt if she knew every detail she could better prepare herself for what was coming.
When the moment came for us to climb into our car, she turned to me with wide, frightened eyes. "Mommy, will you hold my hand?"
With a reassuring smile, I laced my fingers with hers. "Absolutely, baby girl. And I promise not to let go."
If you haven't been on the ride, it's single-seating in small train cars. To keep my word, I sat behind her with my hand on her shoulder. Her tiny fingers gave mine a tight squeeze the moment the car gave its first lurch forward.
We were off!
Up hills, zooming around corners, streaking through the darkness: all the while my husband and I hooted and hollered to put our nervous little one at ease, and show her we were having fun.
Not even a quarter of the way through the ride, something amazing happened. Those little fingers released mine. My baby girl threw her arms in the air and whooped it up as we hurled down yet another hill.
Instantly, my eyes filled with tears. (Side note: I cry when I'm happy, sad, stressed, relieved, laughing, or ... in this case ... overwhelmed with pride.)
The second the ride stopped, my girl screamed at the top of her lungs, "THAT WAS AMAZING!"
She hadn't known what to expect, yet was happily bowled away by the outcome.
This got me thinking about the journey all authors, and the daring few that decide to chase their dreams, embark on. As we plug along, we're terrified of so many elements that can oppress us with negativity if we let them; sales rankings, bad reviews, rejections letters, the list goes on and on. Through the advice, tips, and experiences of other authors we try to formulate a map of what we can expect along this journey. But, like my daughter's experience, no one could describe for her exactly what it would be like. That discovery had to be hers alone.
We could fear what lies ahead, gnawing our nails down to nubs that we may not "have what it takes."
We could hunt for that emergency exit because the pressure is just too much.
Or, we can consider ourselves blessed to be doing what we love, throw our hands in the air, and enjoy the ride. The trek may not look the way we imagined, there could be a few stomach-churning lurches along the way. But in the end, when our car hisses to a stop, we may find that those high-hills along the way were more amazing than we ever could have imagined.
In interviews, I am asked all the time what advice I have for authors just starting out. Now, instead of practiced responses, I have one from the heart. If this is your passion--if this is truly what you want--buckle in, work hard, and enjoy the ride.
As for me? My hands are in the air, and I'm barreling into the future ... wherever it may lead.