Stan Lee died a couple of days ago at 95. He was the creator of Spiderman, the Hulk, and a ton of other comic book characters that make up the Marvel Universe. I read an article about him recounting his story. He started off wanting to be a novelist. Then, after working as a comic book writer and creator for many years, he realized he loved what he did—creating characters, stories, and worlds that entertained people. He was fantastically successful and happy, and he never did write a novel.
This wake-up call hit me hard. What if I never write a novel? Do I even want to write a novel? What if I only write children’s books, or small devotions, or blogs, or the occasional article? What if I never publish a book at all? Am I okay with this? What does it mean if I am okay with it?
After talking to one of my best friends, I realized I haven’t even touched my novel in months, but I’ve been writing a devotional weekly (should be daily, but you know…life happens). And I wrote a children’s book in the span of an afternoon that is really cute. I currently have another children’s book out with a publisher and should hear something back within the next few weeks.
My most pressing issues right now are my family and finances. (I have a good bit of debt I need to get under control.) This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my dream. I’m just working at a different pace than what the world demands. I have felt so much pressure to hurry up and write and to get published like it’s now or never, because if I don’t get published then that means I’m not really a writer. Right? Hogwash!
Focusing on my family is important right now. Finding a job where I can use my talents is a good thing. I have fought against it for so long, because I felt like not focusing on writing was ignoring “my calling.” (How often do we throw this word around?) Why have I insisted on being unhappy for 20+ years all because I wasn’t writing novels? I have had phenomenal opportunities that I pushed aside, because my idea of success was writing novels, touring to promote them, and perhaps even speaking to audiences about their content? But after Stan Lee’s death, when I actually sat down and thought about it, I realized that I really don’t want that after all. That isn’t my definition of success for myself. This shook up my world.
So what do I want? Yes, I do enjoy writing…mainly put my imaginations down on paper, creating worlds and characters and telling stories. But when it feels like a job, the pressure of producing all this doesn’t make me happy; it stresses me out and causes me to have writer’s block. So now I have to reevaluate how I want to make a living, where I want to work, and what I would be good at doing each day. I do feel a bit panicked, because I’m starting over. Sort of.
I have experience in several fields, all leaning a bit towards public relations and client relations. I’m not sure where this will lead, but I do know one thing: I’m leaning on God to direct my steps. I have faith in him that he knows me better than I know myself. Realizing that I don’t have to keep pounding the keyboard and pushing myself to publish a book immediately, along with knowing that being successful doesn’t mean I have to be a novelist took a huge weight off of me that I didn’t realize I was carrying around. I was allowing the world’s view of success determine my happiness and satisfaction with my life.
Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to change our plans. Sometimes it takes similar situations in others for us to really look at ourselves. The one thing I know for sure is my identity rests in the one who created me, saved me, and loves me unconditionally, no matter what my job may be.