I was terrified.
In less than twenty minutes, guest speaker Jessica Brody would be talking about screen writer Blake Snyder's book Save the Cat!, which outlines the 15 beats every successful story needs in order to resonate.
What a day to come to a writer's meeting! I had the proof of my soon to be published novel in my hand. Was I about to find out that my story sucked and really wan't even a story at all? Had I come all this way for nothing?
But to my amazement and relief, listening to Jessica check off the beats was like watching the Oscars the year Return of the King was nominated. First beat, okay, got that. Second, good. Third, got that one. And just as Return of the King, one by one, won every Oscar it was nominated for, my story had every one of the 15 beats. Halleluja! My opening and closing images reflect one another beautifully. My false defeats and false victories are in place. My darkest moment happens right on cue. And my thesis - the line in the beginning that sets up the whole story and the problem that the story will solve - nailed it. Why did I ever think someone like him would put up with someone like me?
I'd never read Save the Cat! nor paid particular attention to Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. I had no outline. I just wrote my story. With some inherent sense of good story telling. Apparently. Without realizing it, I knew what I was doing. The power was in me all along, just like Dorothy and clicking her ruby heels at the end of The Wizard of Oz.
Yet for years, I'd doubted myself. It took Fairy Godmother Jessica Brody to get me to open my book, look inside, and see all the beats lined up like popcorn on a string. It had been no easy task to get the beats there, but now that they are, they feel so right. And honestly, it was only about the millionth time in my life that my knack for writing has been officially sanctioned. Jeepers - when I was a sophomore in college I tied with an MFA graduate for first place in a writing contest. It just took me a good long while to start believing. And it wasn't until I took the decisive action to publish my book that my belief felt real to me.
So - what am I saying? That someday things will come together for you, and at that moment you will realize that the power had been in you to transform your life all along? No. I am saying that the power is in you, right now, so act on it. Just do it. Flip the switch that allows your dreams to come blasting forth to illuminate your life. If you want to move to New Zealand, move to New Zealand. If you want to quit your job and go to medical school at age 52, do it. If you want to kiss the prom queen, despite the punch in the face you know is coming from the prom king, go for it. If you want to cut off all your hair, why not? If you want to patent that invention, do it before someone beats you to it. Do something huge if your heart of hearts wants it. Or sometimes even the smallest change in routine can change a life. Rosa Parks just didn't get up, and she shifted the course of human history.
So click those heels. You've got the power.
Queen of the Universe coming this Fall