Friday, November 18, 2011

What do you choose?

You know how it is when you buy a new car and suddenly notice every other car on the road is the same make, model, and color as yours?

I have no idea why I used that analogy, since the last time I bought a new car was almost 14 years ago. It was just a few weeks after I got married.

Which is probably exactly why I used that analogy. Being a new author going through divorce makes me keenly aware of how many other authors are in my shoes. There was an article several months ago in Romance Writers Report magazine offering one author's tips on keeping the muse alive through divorce. At RWA Nationals last spring, several authors gave a panel discussion on the same topic.

But it was this recent blog post by author Jessica Corra that really touched me.

Not in the way I most enjoy being touched, but pretty close.

She does a beautiful job capturing the numb feeling of holding your first advance check and realizing how different your life was when the whole crazy ride began.

I posted a link to the blog on Twitter, and my amazing agent read it, retweeted it, and followed up with this:

It's one of the things I love best about my agent – the fact that she cares so deeply about her authors beyond how fast we can crank out manuscripts.

The morning my ex informed me he wanted a divorce, the first person I contacted wasn't my best friend or my mother.

It was my agent.

So you know I'm serious when I tell you she's been more than just a business partner through this ordeal. I'm not sure I could have endured some of the darkest days of the divorce process without her unwavering support and levelheaded "here's what we're going to do now" approach.

Still, our perception has been fascinatingly different. More than once, she's tried to comfort me for having my debut year tainted by such an awful life event.

While I appreciate the sympathy, that's not how I see things at all. By my way of thinking, the marriage was destined to crumble at some point. What a tremendous, amazing gift to have this three-book deal happen at a time I urgently needed all the joy, excitement, and reader support to buoy me through the worst of it.

Blame it on my perpetual glass-is-half-full attitude, but that's the way I see it. Never once have I lamented that my debut year was ruined by my ex's decision. Never once have I fumed that I'd be enjoying my book deal more if things had gone differently with the marriage.

For me, it's all about focusing on the positive aspects of life's changes. I can choose to be perpetually angry that the presence of my two twenty-something housemates means I can no longer stroll naked through my own living room.

Or I can choose to be grateful their presence keeps me laughing and keeps the mortgage paid.

I can choose to be hurt someone didn't want to be with me foreverandever, or I can choose to be grateful I was set free to find someone else who does.

It's always a choice.

In the end, that's what everything comes down to.

I know what I choose. How about you?


Linda G. said...

As a fellow optimist, I am in total agreement. :)

Alexa O said...

I love this post. When my marriage crumbled, I had a two-month-old baby. Needless to say, I didn't really get to enjoy motherhood that first year. I was so, so angry with my ex for a long time about that. New parents have enough to worry about. Foreclosing on their house because their ex bailed out should not be one of them.

BUT, because I had a baby, I was able to see clearly that my ex was bad for us. What I'm not sure I could have done for myself, I did for her. And it was the best thing that could have ever happened.

So I can choose to focus on the things that make me angry, or I can focus on how happy and thankful I am that I'm free.

You're amazing, Tawna. Amazing and strong and lovely. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, and for making us laugh. Laughter is the best.

Sarah W said...

I don't know. . .

I've had several great things happen to me this week, but I'm sure they're just flukes and people are just being nice and they don't mean it . . . Though why I don't fully appreciate people making the effort to be nice, I don't know.


When exactly will I stop dragging high school around with me? 'Cause it's still stuck to my shoe . . .

Patrick Alan said...

I think you should poll those housemates. I am sure there would be few objections to strolling through the living room naked. Possibly carrying their next cold beer.

Honestly, stop using them as the excuse to hold yourself back. Only you are stopping your naked strolling. It's not like you are in the Swiss Alps.

Matthew MacNish said...

I love your point of view and attitude. Why would ending a doomed relationship be a bad thing? I think it's great that they happened in the same year, because I'm sure soon enough they'll both be seen as great things in your life.

Also, I love Jess. I hung out with her a lot at WFC, and she is tiny AND adorable.

Patricia Eimer said...

I know what you mean about relying on the industry people around you now. It seems like whenever anything changes in my life the first person to know about it is my editor. There's something comforting in having that objective outside person who can keep you focused on the rest of the world when it gets crazy in your own life.

Anonymous said...

My first marriage finally biting the dust was a breath of fresh air to me, but I was marriage to a tyrant.

It was then, and only then, that I was free to pursue my life, instead of being a slave to his. That was when I wrote my first book.

The supportive people in our lives are the ones we need to hold onto - otherwise, take out the trash.

Recently (yesterday) I gave your book as a gift to my girlfriend whose marriage is taking a nose dive. She needs to laugh... and now she has an even deeper appreciation because I sent her a link to your blog. She needs to laugh and knowing that you've "been there" gives her a sense of sisterhood.

I'll refrain from the fist pumping and bra burning for now. ;)

Great post - awesome agent!

Teri Anne Stanley said...

My husband (who won't divorce me, no matter how much I torture him) once pointed out that I could awful-ize even the most wonderful of experiences.

I have been working that...I've since moved from "It could be worse" through "touch of grey" to "cup half full"...maybe one day I'll get all the way to "cup half full of liquid, half full of air, which means it's all the way full!"

Trinity Faegen said...

Tawna, you're a treasure. I wish all the best of wonderful things for you.

Michelle Wolfson said...

I know, I know, I've been slow to catch on. And you are right--as you have been all year every time you pointed it out--that it was wonderful to have something exciting to focus on during a difficult year. Well you know I couldn't have been more thrilled for you for that.

For all the other readers, Tawna's glass half full attitude barely begins to describe her unbeatable spirit. I think we can all learn a lesson from Tawna in how to approach life, and I know I've looked to her as an example many times.

Simply put, Tawna's amazing.

Adriana said...

Great post, Tawna! I hope you never ever lose that glass-half-full attitude! It's great that you can consciously make that choice about what to focus on. And I hope you have plenty more wonderful things to focus on in the years to come!

Kristina said...

All I have to say to this beautiful and eloquent post is, "Thank you." And you know who'll always drink wine with you...

Kennyc said...

Very open and honest post Tawna.

As Charles Bukowski said, "Love is a fog that burns away with the first daylight of reality."

As much as I resist believing this, often I do.

Congratulations on your success. I enjoy your blog a ton.

When you least expect it to happen, that's when you'll meet someone great.

Living, Learning, Eating said...

Wonderful post. I'm so happy for you! And I think that you just made every writer out there (myself included) come down with a serious case of agent-envy. :P

Unknown said...

I absolutely love your positive attitude. I hope it is infectious. Did you always feel like a "glass half full person" or is this something you've had to work on over the years?

Missy Olive said...

Well put. It is strange because I had just started stalking you when you were still writing about your ex. And then when you broke the news I was sad for you.

I have enjoyed watching you embrace and move forward---and maybe even love again.

I was diagnosed with cancer almost 10 years ago. A friend shared a story with me about boiling water, coffee, a carrot, and an egg. It really struck a nerve. From that point on, I chose to be coffee.

If you have never heard the story, you can read it here:

Congrats on a great year. I'm certain there will be many more!

Raquel Byrnes said...

What an amazing attitude. You are a true romantic...don't let life beat that out of you. Best wishes and congratulations on your success. You've earned the right to be happy.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

Harley May said...

This is beautiful and I love you.

Jess Corra said...

Thank you for linking and this is why I say you're my role model. I'll be alright. I already am a much better person since leaving.

And thanks, Matt. :)

Kimberly Sabatini said...

So lucky to be in the company of such amazing friends. (((hugs))) Love you both.

Elise said...

Love love love this post -- thanks for the inspiration!

Lisa Ahn said...

I agree with your agent -- you are amazing! I am working on having the glass full more often than not. Thanks for the inspiration.