What is our fire, and how do we go about finding it?
I spent over 20 years as an interior designer. Most days I loved it—the fabulous furniture, gorgeous fabrics, wallpapers and artwork delighted me—it was a glamorous career with not-so glamorous hours. And the stress? Oh, the stress! People can be so demanding and unreasonable; didn’t I know the world would stop spinning if the powder room window treatments weren’t installed before the neighborhood BBQ!
Often I would fantasize about leaving my career and going after my secret dream of writing novel, yet I never had the courage to take such a serious leap. But several years ago I nearly died of septicemia, and that’s when everything changed.
And I do mean everything.
I woke up in intensive care surrounded my machines and tubes. My body felt foreign and it was an effort to form a sentence. I was terrified. After spending weeks in the hospital, I was finally released with instructions that I was not to return to work until my doctor gave me the go-ahead. I remember being sprawled out my bed having myself a full-blown pity party. Questions ranging from why me? all the way to what did I ever do to deserve this? banged around in my head. I wept into a wad of soggy tissues and watched my hair fall out from the massive antibiotics that had been pumped into my veins. I was a sobbing, sniveling, basket case of wrecked humanity.
It was later that same day that I discovered a box filled with short stories and character sketches that went back to my pre-teen years. They were silly and unpolished, but the more I read them, the more I knew my fire could no longer be ignored—it was time to let it burn, even if it scorched me in the process.
In my novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Aunt Tootie looks into CeeCee’s eyes and says, “Far too many people die with a heart that’s gone flat with indifference, and it surely must be a terrible way to go. If there’s one thing I’d like most for you, it’s that you’ll find your calling in life. That’s where true happiness and purpose lies. Whether it’s taking care of abandoned animals, saving old houses from the wreckin’ ball, or reading to the blind, you’ve got to find your fire, sugar. You’ll never be fulfilled if you don’t.”
I believe Tootie’s words to be true. Each of us has a fire, a dream, or whatever we want to call it, and it’s so important that we acknowledge our fire and go after it with gusto. Granted, the acceptance of Tootie’s philosophy didn’t come to me overnight, but when I finally realized that life was too wondrous to spend worrying about fabric delays and broken lamps when the one thing I really wanted to do was write, I sold my business and took the first steps to fan my flame.
It’s the gutsiest thing I’ve ever done, and as it turns out, it was also the wisest.
So how did you discover your fire?
About me: My debut novel is a New York Times bestseller; foreign rights have sold to Italy, France, Germany, Israel, Poland, and Korea. The paperback will be released on October 26, 2010. For a list of all my upcoming author events please visit my website. You can also find me on Twitter (@wordrunner) and Facebook.
I live in a quaint historical town in Kentucky with my husband and several furry, four-legged children. I love animals, feeding the birds, reading, gardening, and laughing with girlfriends. Oh, and I’m a nut for handbags.