02 July 2010

An Inspired Career Change

by Celia Cage
 At long last, Northwest Oregon experienced the first bit of sunshine it had seen in months, and I spent the weekend in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests, basking in the warmth. My weekend trip was a shortened version of a journey I’ve been gearing up for. A career path into the realm of writing and editing beckons, calling me to the edge and pushing me to jump. I imagine a writer’s journey begins somewhere, and it’s usually with a story.

I camped next to a lovely lake and listened to the water-droplet songs of tree swallows.  I fell sound asleep, dreamed, and then woke up some time later. I still heard birds singing, and I was confused. I knew with certainty that I had been fast asleep for a while, but I didn't think that birds would be singing in the middle of the night. Additionally there still seemed to be a little bit of light outside.
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Instant & Microground 100% Natural Roasted Italian CoffeeI peeked out my little peephole to the east and, surprisingly, saw a small orange glow on the horizon. Morning? Already? I checked my watch to confirm that it was 4:30am! I had slept solidly and soundly, without waking up (at least, without remembering that I woke up) for approximately 6 straight hours! This weekend trip was already going better than I thought it would.

I broke camp and hopped in my car to go for my hike. Now, my goal for the weekend was to try out my new backpack. It was all loaded up with my tent and clothes and water and food—it was heavy. I was going hiking to practice having the 40lb (or so) bag on my back. What I really wanted to do was go on an actual backpacking trip, but reason took hold and I reminded myself that my inexperience could get me into trouble. Similarly, there are days when I get so excited about wanting to be an editor that I imagine myself quitting my job to devote everything to living the dream. The timing isn’t right for me to give up familiar comforts, and so I quell the yearning in order to balance the dream with reality.

My hiking plan was to go to Duffy Lake. I found the trailhead, no problem. Filled out the wilderness pass, piece of cake. However, about 3 miles in (on a 7 mile hike to the lake) the trail either a. disappeared under SNOW or b. was on the other side of a very full and fast creek, with no bridge or otherwise reasonable (dry) crossing in sight. I checked out my map for plan B and enacted that instead.
 So, there I was... on foot, going to plan B...Reminded that in writing, having a plan B is as essential as having a first aid kit in my backpack. Although a Bachelor’s Degree in Technical or Creative Writing could be a great way to spend your parent’s money, planning for the “what if” is not only logical, but can save you from a lot of hassle. Not to mention it keeps your forward momentum going. If your plan A didn’t work out, what would happen after that? Would you just stop writing?
I was going along on my plan B trail, smiling at the snow-free path.... When the trail suddenly STOPPED at the edge of another -- you guessed it --- CREEK.

There was a large tree across the river, which gave me hope. I promptly lost it all when I saw that half of the log was under an inch of water. I made a small effort to try to stack wood on it so I could walk across, but soon ceased when I realized there was a STUPENDOUS drop about 20 feet downstream from where I needed to cross....

Ok, plan C. Drive to another trail head and walk 1 mile to go to another lake. No need to cross a stream. In fact, it just might be even better than my original plan A. Sometimes it’s ok to take the easy way. Challenges and struggles can help you grow as a writer, but too much can make you crack. 
2011 Writer's MarketI finally made it to the lake, and to my “dream.” However, this beautiful lake just happened to be home to about 50 BILLION mosquitos, all of which were after ME. The reality was that I hiked up to the lake, swatting and flapping the entire way, only to stop for 4 seconds to take in the view, and then be on my way. I couldn't even identify a pair of ducks without getting 5 mosquito bites. AUGH.

I managed to make it back to my car and relished the protection it offered from the mosquitos. While I sat there and finally ate my lunch, I decided that I had my fill of nature for the weekend. And nature (i.e. mosquitos) had its fill of me. 

National Geographic Maps RD00620345 RV and Camping AtlasI realized that through the mosquitos, the snow, and the underwater trails, I had just had an awesome weekend. The obstacles that diverted my original plan took me somewhere wonderful I didn’t imagine I’d be going when I started. And as a brand new writer, it can be difficult to remember that obstacles aren’t always such a bad thing. The joys of storytelling and the exhilaration of getting published eclipse the frustrations and allow one to blossom into an accomplished writer.

Celia Cage holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has a fresh interest in writing.  She plans to explore her natural inclination toward detail and the mechanics of language.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Celia, I wish you all the best with your work. I think most of us can remember when we first drempt about being a writer, because if it weren't for those moments of fantasy, who would start?