This has been a week for 'Laini's Ladies' (see my website for info), as I'm working on my line for the next holiday season. I find with most projects that once I focus on them and really sink my mind's teeth into them, I get sucked in by the challenges and begin to have a lot of fun. So too with these; I was putting them off just a little bit because I was focused on finishing my book and I couldn't do much else. I have a stack of projects to get to and feel so blessed that I get to spend my days doing something so fun, and that I've carved out a little niche where I get to create just what I want, that I've found a company to manufacture my line who doesn't destroy the fun with micromanagement, that my whimsical little ladies have a home in the world and that people like them!
I was talking to Alexandra recently about plotting fiction and how you just have to keep on trying out new ideas and forcing your mind down new avenues until you find the one that works, and it brought to mind this quote by Thomas Edison:
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
I LOVE that thought -- it expresses perfectly my experience with plotting, and with so many other things in making one's way in life. I've always liked the image of our paths in life as boardgame boards -- that's what I created for my art school application in fact. Snaking curving paths, one step at a time, a roll of the dice, a fork in the road, choices, detours, going backwards, going forwards. But it really would only be accurate if you could see the way your path intersected with a million others. It would have to be the world's most complex board game! Undrawably complex. This leads me towards another metaphor (I've realized I have an obsession with making metaphors for the creative life):
I was watching a documentary on PBS a few weeks ago about two dog trainers who's agreed to take on grown dogs who hadn't been trained as puppies and see what they could do with them. One guy was a bloodhound trainer in West Virginia, the other lady raised sheep and herding dogs in Scotland. Both dogs were fantastic and succeeded beyond one's wildest dreams, but the bloodhound was the one that blew my mind. For its first "test" after only 8 weeks of training, it was taken to an empty baseball stadium and given a 2-second sniff of a scent, and then it had to find the precise seat where 13 hours before one person it had never met had sat among thousands of others. Wow! Imagine: thousands of threads of scent, 13 hours old, all intermingled and intertwined... and the dog beelined, zigging and zagging through the bleachers, straight to the right seat! It astonished me. Imagine, first of all, being able to remember the precise scent after that quick sniff and not lose the memory among all the other intertwining scents, and then tracing it like that. Amazing amazing! So here's the inevitable metaphor: finding our "path" is kind of like that, maybe more than like a boardgame board. It's invisible. There is so much interference, so many other paths crossing ours, so many things to muddle us along the way, but to be able to keep that one path shining and foremost in one's mind and follow it unswerving, it's a feat. And we people aren't often trained as puppies to follow our own path -- more likely a bunch of voices try to give us a bunch of different paths, and we should be so lucky to have that bloodhound's ability to remember what it is we're looking for amid all those other possiblities. In fact, I was pretty lucky to have parents who DID teach me to follow my own path and I look forward to having children of my own some day to carry forward that wonderful parenting and raise my own 'puppies' to have their own unswerving sense of self. Here's a "cheers" to wonderful parents, and also to strong souls who have to teach themselves, every step of the way, how to believe in themselves. And remember Thomas Edison's words -- there are thousands of "ways" out there; just keep searching for yours!