Saturday, October 22, 2011

Creating Your Life

Laini art from a couple of years ago :-)

Hi there! Before I head back out on the road for one last little bit (final leg of the tour = California), I want to talk about creating your life. There’s a quote I love, from the poet Mary Oliver, that goes:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

I so clearly remember what it was like, being young and always in the grip of some big fat daydream. I wanted to be a writer always, but more than that, I wanted to have an extraordinary life. I’m sure I dreamed it a million different ways, and that plenty of them were ridiculous, but I think the daydreams were training for writing, and I also think they spurred me to pursue my dreams for real.
Daydreaming, however awesome it is, is passive. It happens in your head. Learning to make dreams real is another matter, and I think it should be the work of your life. Everyone’s life, whatever their dream (unless their dream is to be an axe murderer or something.)
It took me a while to finish a book. Too long. And you know, it doesn’t matter how good a writer you are unless you finish what you start! I think this is the hardest part for most people who want to write. I was in my mid-30s before I figured it out. The brain plays tricks. You can be convinced you’re following your dream, or that you’re going to start tomorrow, and years can pass like that. Years.
The thing is, there will be pressure to adjust your expectations, always shrinking them, shrinking, shrinking, until they fit in your pocket like a folded slip of paper, and you know what happens to folded slips of paper in your pocket. They go through the wash and get ruined. Don’t ever put your dream in your pocket. If you have to put it somewhere, get one of those holsters for your belt, like my dad has for his phone, so you can whip it out at any moment. 
Hello there, dream.
Also, don’t be realistic. The word “realistic” is poison. Who decides? 
And “backup plan” is code for, “Give up on your dreams,” and everyone I know who put any energy into a backup plan is now living that backup plan instead of their dream. Put all your energy into your dream. That’s the only way it will ever become real.
The world at large has this attitude, “What makes you so special that you think you deserve an extraordinary life?” 
Personally, I think the passion for an extraordinary life, and the courage to pursue it, is what makes us special. And I don’t even think of it as an “extraordinary life” anymore so much as simple happiness. It’s rarer than it should be, and I believe it comes from creating a life that fits you perfectly, not taking what’s already there, but making your own from scratch. 
You can let life happen to you, or you can happen to life. It’s harder, but so much better.

(that's all :-)

Random sweet idea:

And, from Geninne's Art Blog, a favorite of mine,
always makes me want to drop everything and paint:

Now, I must go and pack.(Which, after having totally nailed the packing for the last
-- and longer -- leg of travels, will be EASY!)

P.S. The quote on the art at the top is:


*love it*


Life is Good(ell) said...

Oh, this is such a beautiful post. Thank you! Enjoy the last leg of your book tour-

Louise said...

Laini I just lovvvveee this! Thank you!! Perfect timing for me right now! You just put all the doubt demons back in the cupboard! Where they belong!! I plan to grab my extraordinary life!

Thank you so much too, for Daughter! What an amazing book. I completely loved it......and at the end I was sooooooo sad.NO!NO! Not Brimstone,and Issa, and Twiga and Yasri...Nooooooo!!But now I've recovered and the hope has set in....cos there's revenants and gleaning and things, right? There's hope that they're still alive!In some form? I hope (-: Thank you for being such a great writer AND great source of inspiration always!

Camille said...

Thank you for this amazing post. Its through that I'm still in that part in my life where I dream more than I act. But maybe this post will motivate me?? Who knows?

Beth S. said...

Love that Mary Oliver quote. It's one of my favorites.

Kristan said...

Sometimes it feels as though you are speaking to me directly.

Thank you. :)

Johari said...

I loved waking up and reading this post--so full of encouragement and support. What a great way to start the day!

Enjoy California!

Random Question: Did you see the fairy doors (and *ulp* the one goblin door) while you were in Ann Arbor? I miss seeing them. :)

tone almhjell said...

LOVE the Hafiz quote! What is it wearing, I wonder? It's cold out there in the streets today. I think a pink and red striped scarf, because those always seem happy to me. And it's got a bag of chocolate covered marzipan and clemetines in its hands. No, make that paws. And galoshes. And tiny bells sewn into its coat.

Yup, that's it. Come on in, happiness! I'm working, but you can watch.

Lexie said...

This is such a gorgeous, inspirational post. I love it. Thank you for making me smile. :D

Sarah Sequins said...

This is one of my favorite blog posts ever. You're so right about backup plans being code for abandoning your dreams! And about being "realistic."

Making a living as a writer/jewelry artist is my dream, and it can be scary and frustrating trying to make it a reality (when it isn't fun and rewarding). I'll have to start small, but I don't want to finish small! Thanks for the brilliant reminder. :)

-- Sarah

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post--thank you for sharing your art with the world! And, thank you for Daughter--even though your great story and fantastic writing means I'm going to have to break my moratorium on buying books this month (HUGE unexpected car repair bill!) because I LOVE your book so much (reading a library copy) that I MUST have my own.

Joel Le Blanc said...

Thanks so much for your post - it is timely and I for one really needed to read this right now. People, like you, who follow their dreams and just go for it, are an inspiration. No back up plans - let's live life!

Carol said...

Thank you very much for posting this. I am a long time reader of your blog although I don't comment much. After a hard day at a dead end retail job I feel inspired.

This is exactly what I needed to hear. You have helped me.

Fiona L said...

What wonderful artwork, I definitely love the colours and the sheen of it. I also love your advice, I think it's so true. It's so easy to dream, but going out and doing it is an entirely different story. I think it's what sets people apart. Thank you, it's a good motivator to finish that book and stop pushing it back.

Cristina said...

perfect words! seriously.. I'm sharing this post with everyone I know.. or with anyone that will listen :)

thanks for your awesomeness!

Chachic said...

I love that quote and I love the entire post. I'm in my mid-twenties and I still haven't figured out what I really want to do with my life but thanks for reminding me that we should always live our dreams.

Anonymous said...

Impossibly beautiful. Just beautiful.

As an 18-year-old, I could not be given more perfect advice. Thank you for writing this.

And I am in love with that picture, especially the hand saying "hi!".

P.S. The captcha code for this comment was "woofers." What a lovely made up word!

Jillian said...

I think this was a blog post I needed to read because it ended up making me cry. The words "backup plans" and "realistic goals" have been spinning around my head for the past few days, so in a way I feel as if the words in this post set me free a bit. The doubt is still there, of course, but it probably always will be there in some shape or form.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you. These were just the words I needed to read today. I wish you all the best on the rest of the tour and your work on your next novel.

Shveta Thakrar said...

*a million hearts*

Thank you so much, Laini.

Lyra said...

"...and the courage to pursue it..."

That's it, isn't it? It isn't just having the dream but not talking yourself out of it.

Recently I went back and read all of your blog posts. The striking thing to me was how hard you go after the happy, the joy and how by doing that you have fallen upon your passion. From Laini's Ladies to the illustrations you post, from Blackbringer to Daughter, you attempt and in each attempt live that extraordinary life you once only dreamed.

And you're right. It is harder. Because it matters so, so much.

So here's to dreams holstered, washing machines be damned.

Thank you for these lovely thoughts.

Heather said...

As I finish my second read of Daughter, I'm supremely grateful that you live your dream, and share with us the fruits of a full life lived. *squee*

amy said...

Thanks for that post! And Daughter - I couldn't put it down! It kinda got in the way of my visit with my mom recently. ;-) And, on the bedside table in her guest room was a folk arty angel with "wish" written on it. Perfect!

Anonymous said...

This is exactly the pep talk I needed on top of a day of opportunities. I was sick all morning, wrote all afternoon, got a letter in the mail saying my program of study has recommended me to the graduate school for entry into a Master's of Library Science, and just read this post and felt little bursts of "I can do this!" go off all over my mind. Thank you for the beautiful post!

Tristy said...

I love this post Laini, so inspirational! I've included a link to it from my own blog
Keep up the great posts!

Emily said...

I love this post so much. Last year I think I was trying to settle for something that others wanted for me, but that I didn't want for myself. I don't want to settle. Just this morning I was walking to class thinking, 'Why am I afraid of doing the things I need to do to reach my dream?' I love how you've reached your dream and are now experiencing so much success. I have only good thoughts for you and thank you for writing things like this that inspire and motivate me to reach my own dreams.

, said...

I am in your beautiful city visiting friends for a few weeks and enjoying the cuteness of Portland and Powell's. Saw your book in there yesterday and it was so cool to see it in its real form. I have the kindle version. Man, as much as I love ebooks, nothing compares to holding the real thing! I do have a question however. What is the best place to go in Portland for art supplies? I don't want to travel too far out of the city, I'm staying up on Glisan, but I figured I would ask you because art+portland=laini! :)

, said...

Also, I must say thankyou for that paragraph about pursuing your back-up-plan. I've just applied for Primary school teaching (elementary to you guys) which is a one year post-grad course which I'll start next year and then I'll be a qualified teacher ... and although I'm not planning on giving this up, I'm going to write my butt off whenever I'm not studying so that I never actually have to be a teacher!

SarahWT said...

Completely loved this post, Laini!!

Alix said...

I absolutely loved this post!

I just got my (signed) copy of Daughter from Waterstones In Piccadilly Circus - I had no idea it was the biggest book shop in Europe till your last post! You were in the new and notable section, right by the entrance :)

Jessica Lindsay said...

"What makes you so special?" That's the question, isn't it? Ringing in my ears always, now, is Zuzanna's response (for the win) of how much your life would have to suck to want the Apocalypse: to live in an artless house, working a mind-numbing job, eating ass-fattening doughnuts. What makes us special is hanging the art, right? Better--making the art. But, oh, to overcome the mind numb.

Abigail Marble said...

Thanks for this post -- I wholeheartedly agree, and needed the reminder. Every time I have made a leap in life I have been shocked --SHOCKED!--at the paucity of supportive voices. The only people who say 'hooray! leap!' seem to be those who have done it themselves. Everyone else focuses on the risks, but I suppose they are only projecting the fears that have kept them from making leaps of their own.

Emy Shin said...

Love love love this post. As a recent graduate, I'm floundering between doing what I love and doing what is "good" for me. And because I'm a worry-wart, I'm bowing under the pressure, pursuing a "backup plan" -- but it's good to remind myself, always, that whatever I do, I shouldn't forget to pursue my dreams.

Bidisha said...

I want to print out this post and frame it on the wall so I can look at it every morning and be inspired.

What a gorgeous post, Laini. You spoke the most excellent truth.

Evie said...

Crying now. Printing this out. It's beautiful.

philippa_moore said...

I do not have the words for how brilliant this is. How very, very inspiring - thank you!! xx

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