Saturday, September 19, 2009

Author Samira Hodges guest blogs!

Dreams vs. Reality

Expect the unexpected. That’s been my motto in life. Well, at least in my adult life. When I was younger, I used to dream of what I would be when I would grow up. I had many ambitions, some were big and others were small, day-to-day type goals. My first ambition came to me at four years of age; I wanted to become a Pediatrician. As a consequence, I dedicated my life to the pursuit of this goal, specifically to the pursuit of getting into a Canadian medical school.

I didn’t. Get in, I mean. In fact, I tried for two consecutive years and was never even offered an interview. Ouch. So what’s a girl with a college degree in Biology to do? Well, I did what every other person in my situation would do: I did some soul searching. I had no choice but to explore other possibilities. I began working in the corporate world and climbing my way up the infamous ladder. I played in tennis tournaments (more on that later). I began writing more seriously and exploring the possibility of writing for others (instead of only for myself). And just when I had let my guard down and forgotten entirely about medicine, an opportunity presented itself. I could still be a doctor! It wasn’t over. It could still be done. Who’d a thunk it? There were actually schools in the Caribbean that would consider a dreamer like me. So I gave it a go. Four years later, I’m a doctor, specializing in Pediatrics. And oh, by the way, I met my husband in medical school. Fate’s a funny thing, ain’t it?

Next big ambition: become a professional tennis player. This was a big dream for me because I absolutely love tennis. Always have, always will. In my opinion, it’s the best. The bomb. The shizzle (am I dating myself?). So naturally, I wanted badly to play tennis in college. As the theme of my life goes, I didn’t get on the team after try-outs. Disheartened, I trained harder and tried again the following year. Guess what? I still didn’t make the cut. Thankfully, that didn’t stop me from playing. When you love something, the lack of opportunities can never take away the passion. They just stifle it for a while. Later, when I was playing a friendly game of tennis with a friend, the University tennis coach saw me playing. Again, just when I’d let my guard down, just when I wasn’t expecting it, I got what I’d wanted. That’s right, I made the team. I didn’t get to play the full season but I still made it. Later, after University, I played in provincial tennis tournaments and though I never went “pro”, I would gladly say that I accomplished my goal of making something of myself in the tennis world.

Likewise, publishing a book seemed like an impossible and daunting task. I’ll be honest: I never seriously considered making a career out of writing. I always wrote for myself but later, I discovered the satisfaction that comes with writing for others. I won a few insignificant little contests, got a few compliments and suddenly, the wind was blowing strongly in my sails. Then I came up with a story: the story for the Milestones trilogy. This story, I knew, was one I just had to share with the world. So I wrote it. And then I was stumped. How does one even get a book published? So ironically, or comically, or appropriately, I bought a book. It may as well have been called “publishing for dummies”, I’ll just put it that way. First recommendation in the book: Find an agent. Okay! I can do that! So once again, I put all my hopes and dreams into this endeavour and sent envelope after envelope after envelope. As you can guess (this is my life after all!), all I received was rejection after rejection after rejection. So I gave up. Several times actually. Luckily, my husband kept pushing me to keep going. So I did. But the expectations just weren’t there. They were totally gone. And just when I’d given up on publishing altogether, I landed an agent. As a consequence, my pesky expectations rose right back up! Yay! An agent! Next stop: a publisher! Right? Wrong. Not so. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson by now. Seven rejections later, I was once again deflated. This wasn’t going to happen for me. I was literally putting away my manuscript (and my expectations, once again), when I got a call, one day cold Christmas day. A small publishing house was interested. They wanted to sign a contract. With me. I was so shocked that I didn’t dare celebrate. I didn’t want to jinx it. But it happened. It was real. And now I’m here.

And that’s why my motto in life is to expect the unexpected. I’ve never gotten what I wanted WHEN I wanted it or even HOW I wanted it. Life always happened on its own terms with me. And the more I resisted it, the longer things took. But whenever I just let things happen and let the universe take the course it wanted to take, things always seemed to work out…and usually better than I had ever envisioned. Case in point: I love my medical school. I got to snorkel on school days and travel the beautiful Caribbean, rescue a Caribbean dog, meet and marry my husband (yes, in the Caribbean) and even travel to South America (something I don’t think I would have ever done otherwise). And I still got the residency I wanted. Who else can say that? I love the path I took in life. Although unconventional and always deviating from the “formula” I had in mind, it was always so much better. Similarly, I love my publishing company. I only wish everyone could have the positive experience I’ve had with my house. I talk to my publisher every day. She knows my schedule and life better than I do. She accommodates her schedule to mine and then, not only smiles about it but encourages me to go on and keep trucking. She’s always there when I need her and doesn’t expect the same courtesy in return (though I try, I really do). I wouldn’t trade my experience with my publishing company for the world. There is no substitute for personal attention, dedication, continuous encouragement and support and building lifelong relationships. None.

So can you pick up on the formula that my life has followed? Here’s how I see it:

Plan A: Go to medical school in Canada .
Plan B: It didn’t work out. Give up on medical school altogether.
Plan C: Go to medical school….but not in Canada !

Plan A: Get on the college tennis team.
Plan B: Oh snap. They don’t want me. Give up and just play tennis for fun.
Plan C: Get on the team, just not the way I wanted to!

Plan A: Get published. The end.
Plan B: Publishing is tough! Forget it. Count me out. I’ll just keep my words to myself.
Plan C: Get published by a small house….and love every minute of it!

These are only a few examples of the consistent theme that has gone on in my life…and actually, the life of many other people. Of this, I’m certain. So I challenge you: Take a hard look at YOUR life. Is Plan C just around the corner? Have you considered the possibility of doing something you’ve always wanted, but perhaps not in the manner you’ve always dreamed of? Is it something you could possible try out?

My advice: give it a go.

You’ll be surprised at the results….and at how happy you may end up. Because in the end, you have nothing to lose. Just remember to always expect the unexpected.

Thanks for visiting, Ms. Hodges! :)

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