For decades, I fulfilled a lot of other people’s prophecies about my life. It’s easy to do because from an early age, well-intentioned people start plotting out a helpful map for you that illustrates what a good, productive, respectable life should look like. It probably looks something like this if you’re an American:
- Graduate from high school.
- Graduate from college with a practical degree.
- Get a secure job.
- Get married.
- Have children.
- Retire from said secure job after precisely thirty years.
- Enjoy what’s left of your life.
It’s fine, I guess, if it’s what you really wanna do. The problem is that being handed a map as though that map was the ONLY route to get to “enjoy what’s left of your life” means that it might never occur to you that there are other paths. Some get you there faster. Some get you there slower. Some completely abandon the notion that there’s somewhere to get at all.
My husband started snatching my old map away from me the minute we got married. A typical backseat driver, right?
But he was equipped with something that I wasn’t: confidence in me. He had visions of what I could do and be that I’d never been able to imagine because I was staring so intently at the map that had been given to me. I was trying so determinedly to fit my journey into that map that I couldn’t see the other roads and byways.
He encouraged me to start a business, which seemed nuts to me because I didn’t know anything about starting a business. Over time, though, I figured it out. Without a map.
In doing that, I noticed that the old map I’d been traveling by, the old prophecies that had seemed to predict my destiny, were starting to feel less substantial. The signposts and rest stops that had – once upon a time – seemed inevitable, now seemed arbitrary.
The moment you put one little toe over the old map’s boundaries – once you prove one teensy flaw in the old prophecies about your life – you realize that more things are possible than you ever imagined. You also realize that you have more control over the story of your destiny than you ever believed.
Back in January, I was trying to recover from a particularly brutal winter aboard the Sea Shanti. Once more, we were struggling to make ends meet, questioning the wilderness path that we’d chosen to tread, and generally feeling not great about the chaos.
So I did something a little kooky.
I sat down with Scrivener, the tool I use to write the Perilous and Sparks novels. This time, instead of plotting out the course of a novel, I started plotting out the course of the next six months. I tried to include a healthy dose of conflict because you can’t avoid it. I figured, maybe I can choose my own conflict instead of waiting for some second-hand conflict to pop up outta nowhere.
Here’s what’s crazy. So far, everything I plotted out for my year has come true. The conflicts and the conquests.
Does that mean Scrivener’s magic? Hey! Who am I to say? It’s definitely a cool notion to ponder.
What I know for sure is that if you’re going to be self-fulfilling prophecies, shouldn’t you write them yourself, too?
Now, the only problem is that I haven’t had time to pick up where I left off, so I guess I’ll go spend some time plotting out the rest of 2018 to avoid any Mayan calendar mishaps.