You'd think that at forty (cough) something, I'd have been around the block enough times to listen up when my gut says "caution, caution." Most of the time I'm pretty good about listening. But just like that annoying GPS voice that needs to be turned off even if it means you'll take a wrong turn, sometimes that inner voice gets muted as well. And yes, you might take a wrong turn there as well.
And this week, I came to the cul-de-sac of two wrong turns.
It started with a rejection email from an agent. She'd loved the first part of the manuscript but didn't love the way it unfolded. She was kind enough to elaborate on why. And all I could do was mutter "I should have listened to my gut." The dimmer on that light bulb was turned up a couple of notches after a discussion with one of my critique partners. When I told her about the feedback and my thoughts about it, she responded with "All good points. And yes, next time listen to your gut."
See, I read and edited and read and edited so many times that my eyes were glazing over and I couldn't image making one more change. Except that deep down something still felt off. I muted that voice and followed the path with the blinking "just do it." Head-slap moment followed by a solid "told you so" talking to. And wouldn't you know, the next time I sat down to write on the work-in-progress, the anxiety that had all but paralyzed forward momentum was gone. The words flowed better than they have in a while.
The other wrong turn came with way more anxiety--yeah, I know, what can be more stressful than putting your "baby" out there for agents to accept or reject? Easy, putting your Baby in a situation where he's unhappy. Beep, beep … backing up the truck a few thoughts. When we were deciding on summer camps the then 6 year old was adamant that he wanted to try a new camp. That little caution voice said "trial" couple of weeks only. I muted that voice and followed the path with the blinking "just do it."
Fast forward a few months and the now 7 year old will not go to camp. The child who couldn't wait to go, always loved camp will not go. Stomach ache, tired, ankle hurts, you name it he's used it. And this morning, on the third day of "the stomach ache," the little voice came back--this time with an evil cackle and a stomach ache for me--and said "you should have listened to your gut." So after much anxiety and beating down the "I told you so" know-it-all, I signed him up for the tried-and-loved camp. On the way out of that cul-de-sac, wouldn't you know the stomach ache (mine) was gone (his miraculously disappeared when he heard "you can stay home"). I turned up the radio and sang as loud as I could (until the child turned down the music and suggested we listen to something less embarrassing).
So, next time I'm headed somewhere I'll pay more attention to that voice that says "caution, caution." 'Cause let's face it, it's much more fun to tell someone else "I told you so" than have to tell it to yourself.