|It's All About the Ride.|
My intrepid heroine discovered pirates, highwaymen, other kids with their own keys, as well as a mysterious underworld society called The Delvings (this was my older sister’s inspired contribution to the tale). She swung through forests, jumped off cliffs, leaped chasms and (of course, hello, I was writing the story) fell in love.
I absolutely adored Choose Your Own Adventure stories – flipping through the pages to find out what happened next based on decisions you made at the bottom of every page. Didn’t like what you found? You could always go back and start over at the beginning, or at the last critical juncture. It was a low-tech “undo” and seemed a perfect way to correct your mistakes.
As I take off on this new adventure with the Lucky 13s, leading up to the launch of my debut novel Maid of Secrets in Spring, 2013, it occurs to me that life doesn’t usually hand you such easy “do-overs”. You plot and plan and choose your adventure, and if things go awry, you can’t just “undo”.
Or can you?
With a few notable exceptions, just about any life path you take can be turned into a temporary detour or a momentary wrong turn, if it ends up not being the right choice for you. So too can every RIGHT decision eventually become a WRONG one if you stay on a path too long. In my own world, I was going to become a college professor of international affairs… but instead I took a job that was COMPLETELY wrong for me, mainly because I was offered what was, at the time, a crazy amount of money.
Within twelve months, however, I was in a different job in the same company, doing what I did best—writing. My career track after that was an upwardly-mobile scribble, but whenever I found myself totally miserable, it was just a matter of choosing a new adventure. The choices weren’t always easy, but the leap was always worth it. Eventually, the career itself became the wrong decision for me, and I left corporate America behind for freelance work.
I think of this now as I’m about to take another leap, facing decisions about the work I take on vs. the books I want to write. I’m nervous about where the next step will take me, and what my life will be like. I know from experience that nothing is unchangeable in life—heck, wait long enough and even history is revised, as I learned when I was that aspiring college professor. But it doesn’t mean it’s an easy choice to embrace the new adventure.
Still, I can recognize a cliff when I see one, and I know the leap is coming.
What about you? What major decisions have you made that changed your life's adventure?
Jennifer McGowan has been writing fiction since well before she knew any better. A past Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and 2011 Golden Heart finalist, Jenn is represented by agent extraordinaire Alexandra Machinist, of Janklow & Nesbit.
Jenn's debut novel, MAID OF SECRETS, will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in Spring, 2013. You can find Jenn online and on twitter.