Sunday, June 29, 2014
I’d guess it means a lot of different things to different people. To Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, it meant a hit movie about aliens attacking the earth. (And, I must admit, a real favorite of mine.) To a lot of hard working people, it means a paid holiday away from their job. To still others, it’s an American celebration of summer with all the trimmings.
It’s meant different things to me at different times in my life. As a kid, it was about picnics, barbecues and fireworks. Later, when I was old enough to understand the American Revolution, it was about my admiration for my Carpenter and Martin ancestors who fought with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. And still later, when my interest (admittedly bordering on obsession) with the Civil War took precedence, it was about my fascination with Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and his amazing defense of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg.
This year, it’s changed again. This year, it’s about being independent from all things that do not support my passion and my divine purpose: to write. I was born to do this, although there have been many times in my life when I didn’t believe that. I was young and didn’t know anyone who wrote books for a living. If you wrote, it was because you were one of those quirky eccentrics who did it just because you were…well, odd. Only special, unique people had their work published—and a girl like me from small-town USA was neither special nor unique. In fact, I tried very hard to be ordinary and fit in, just like everyone else.
As I look back, I see I didn’t believe in myself. Even once I became an adult and thought about how very cool it would be to write a book, I still didn’t take it seriously. I toyed with the notion of being a writer for many years, tossing around a couple of different book ideas that I started and stopped, wrote and rewrote, and ultimately gave up on. And yet, a spark of…something remained. I couldn’t quite let it go completely.
I fanned that spark with writers’ organizations, conferences, magazines and how-to books. Eventually, I met other writers—some of them published—and discovered…gasp! They were ordinary people just like me! I kept writing, rewriting, submitting, reading, attending workshops, and one very special day, I got The Call. I was astounded. I was going to be a published author!
But life has a way of surprising us—and not always for the better. The really difficult time that I’ve already written far too much about sucked the creativity out of me. My muse was gone. I had neither the interest nor the focus to write. And yet, that tiny flicker of hope remained. Maybe someday I’d get it back.
Well, someday is here. It’s been creeping back in, little by little, until I can claim a new Independence Day, just in time for America’s birthday. For me, it feels more like a rebirth rather than a birthday, but in some ways, I guess they’re kind of the same thing.
To be honest, I don’t care and I’m not going to spend a lot of time understanding or explaining. I only know that I came into this world to write. Life got in my way—or, more aptly, I let life get in my way—but I don’t regret it, either. I learned so much, grew so much, and became a person far different than I ever could have any other way. I’m grateful for that.
So now, I’m claiming my independence for good. I’m embracing the life I was meant to live, accepting all I was meant to give, releasing all that isn’t mine, and transforming myself from the person who says “I wish” into the one who says “I AM.” And that means everything.
So, Happy Independence Day!