Every once in awhile I think about what might have been. I usually don't dwell on them anymore because I am happy with where I am and the path I've chosen. But sometimes I can't help but think where I might be now if something like say, my pregnancy with my third child hadn't have happened. Let me share where I was almost three years ago:
I was an aspiring writer. I'd dabbled with writing children's stories, but left that behind to write a novel. A romance, a historical romance or maybe contemporary. My story kept changing as I tried to figure out my "voice". I love to read historical romances, so imagine my absolute delight at getting to take a writer's class at WT taught by none other than Jodi Thomas. It was thrilling. Even though it was over an hour drive to class once a week, at night, I endured. Well, my family endured too. WB and the girls would shove me out the door each night or sometimes they would come along for the ride. I had thier support. That class led to many other opportunities and I found myself immersed in the writer's world. I was in a critique group, more classes, local meetings, etc. I always had to drive at least an hour to get to these gatherings, but I was determined.
Then I took on the director job at my children's private dayschool. I had been teaching and helping out in the office, but this was a huge responsibility. I almost didn't take it. I even told the President of the school board it could not interfer with my writing. I had a goal to finish, my now contemporary romance novel, and nothing was going to get in my way! They respected my determination and so I took the job.
Suddenly, I found myself working until 9 or 10 at night, leaving dinner and bedtime to WB. The job that was to keep me close to my kids, was actually keeping me from my kids. I found myself too tired for my late night writing. I found myself floundering, but still determined.
I signed up to go to the Romance Writer's Conference in Atlanta. I had hoped to have my novel finished so I could try to find an editor or agent. My novel wasn't finished, but I was going, no matter what!
One week before leaving for my trip, I felt a little strange. I took a pregnancy test just to rule that possibility out. Much to my surprise it was positive. I took two more tests. The lady at the drugstore looked at me a little funny the third time I walked in for a test. I even got the test that says "Pregnant or Not Pregnant". Sort of the pregnancy test for dummy's I suppose, but that was me. Oh, and did I tell you I just happened to be in Houston. WB was back home working and the girls and I drove down to my parent's. My parent's would be taking care of the kids and my friend would be flying into Houston to meet me for our road trip.
Staring at the positive test I realized quickly two things. One I would not be schmoozing any agents at the bar and two my life was going to have to take a drastic turn. But I was going to the conference.
I should have not gone. I was miserable. Our road trip was way too long, my morning sickness reared it's ugly head, and I just felt a little disgusted by the very young agents who sat at the bar talking in such a way that I wanted to wash their mouths out with soap and yet they were who I had to convince to like my writing. There were good things though. I got to listen to one of my favorite authors talk, Julie Garwood. I was able to go to the RITA awards and watch Jodi win yet another RITA that earned her a place in the Hall of Fame. Later, I sat at a small table with her as people stopped by to congratulate her. It was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. I was an awe of the industry, but not in love with it.
The next year flew by. My writing friends faded into the distance. My trip mate never did respond to any of my e-mails after the event. Not that I can blame her, I think the long trip along with the sick roommate would have driven anyone to the edge. WB and I bought a larger house an hour away and slowly moved into it on the weekends. I was hospitalized for severe dehydration a month after the conference, on the verge of kidney failure, and yet still made phone calls from my hospital bed dealing with my director job. All the while this new life was growing inside of me.
Somewhere between the moving, school board meetings, and the gentle kicks from the new one inside of me I saw the light. God spoke to me clearly. Now was not my time to be a novelist or to be a school director. Now was the time to be a wife, a mother to my two daughters and the one on the way. I hung up my director's cap in December, put my laptop away and moved with my family into our new house at Christmas. I was celebrating not only the birth of Jesus, but the birth of a new me.
The transformation is ongoing. I've realized that voice in my ear will speak softly at first and then get louder and louder if I ignore it. I don't always follow the directions God gives me, but when I do I find the path is much easier.
So today I'm still writing. Not the hot and heavy love scenes I was told I needed to have in my book to make it sel,l but a rather tame column titled "In The Spirit Of Family" in our little community paper. I have to admit I get a little thrill when people stop me and say they love my column. I can almost call myself a writer. I've been a member of a internet writing group who have supported me for the last ten years, through it all. This blog has been wonderful as well. When just one person comments that something I have written about has touched them I feel one step closer to being able to call myself a professional author. I've always said if I can touch just one person with my writing I will feel successful, so in a way I know I've done that.
Now when I read about my former critique buddies and how they have a booming publishing business, nice big houses, and go on business trips to Hawaii I am truly excited and happy for them. They've worked hard to get there. But I don't wonder what if any more because I know that trips to exotic places without my kids would just make me miss them, big houses without the sound of giggles and six little feet pattering around would feel empty, and a business that took me away from my family would be miserable for me.
At that conference back in Atlanta I joined Jodi one morning. I think she sensed my conflicting emotions about the timing of my pregnancy and she told me this, "Children are a blessing. You may regret many things in this life, but your children will never be one of them." How true this is. I can't imagine my life without my girls, and thank goodness God knew what an enormous blessing my third little bundle of joy would be.
And, well, that's where I am today.