I’m so glad I did. It’s a dark, gothic read, and his prose is simply a joy to speak aloud. It’s all about the ways a story – and life – are wound up like clockwork, and then let go.
The story is interspersed with pop-out boxes that discuss everything from plot points (you’ll want to remember the way he never greets the cat) to the location of the soul (people were weighed after death to see whether the soul had left them). But the one that’s stuck with me is this:
You don't win races by wishing, you win them by running faster than everyone else. And to do that you have to strive your utmost, and sometimes even that isn't enough, because another runner just might be more talented than you are. Here's the truth: If you want something, you can have it, but only if you want everything that goes with it, including all the hard work and despair, and only if you're willing to risk failure.
It’s a promise adults make to children – you can be what you want – and there’s something about Pullman’s addition of hard work that gets me. It’s advice for adults. It’s so honest it’s heartbreaking.
There are parts of being a writer that I flat-out don’t like. And that doesn’t change the fact that if I want to reach my goals, then I simply have to do them.
At the beginning of the year I was confronted with the fact that I had no clear picture of what I was trying to achieve or how I would achieve it – and more specifically no clear picture of how I was going to start repaying my husband all his faith, support and investment in me.
I considered giving up writing, because I didn’t know how to go forward. It was impossible.
Then I decided to do it anyway.
The first thing for me is always to become accountable to someone else, so I called my sister the next day. Now we talk every Sunday night: we review my past week and set up goals for the coming week. The difference this has made is something I only believe because I’ve experienced it first hand.
My goals started small. The first three months were about establishing a professional routine and trying to figure out how twitter worked. I kid you not. I have weeks and weeks of schedules that go something like: do not be afraid of twitter; just tweet one new thing every day; I REALLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND TWITTER!
Then you cross that line, and twitter swallows your days whole. Which is its own unique challenge.
Where I’m at now is outlining a six-month schedule. This is full of more things I don’t know how to do. I know I want to build my web presence, and I think, “But I’m not a marketer! I don’t know anything about this stuff! Where do I even start?” except it’s much more panicked in my head, and the sentences are less grammatically pretty.
But then I break it down into smaller ideas, like how many other people’s blogs I’d like to link to on twitter every week, or what about having more guest posts on my blog by people I admire?
Then I break it down again, until the only scary thing I have to do this week is write a list of people I could potentially approach about writing on my blog.
Which…really isn’t scary at all.
I have achieved so much more in the last five months than I thought I would achieve this whole year. I feel my feet are on the road. I’m running as fast I can, and I’m getting faster every day.
I encourage every one of you to look directly into the shadows where the things you do not like are lurking, and to take them on with courage and conviction.
Anna blogs regulary at annacowan.com