By Joanne Rock
If follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. – Joseph Campbell
I re-read these words recently before attending this year’s Romance Writers of America conference in San Diego last week. I was thinking about how lucky I’ve been to write romance and be a part of the romance community for twenty years— fifteen of them as a published author. And I *am* lucky. I know many talented writers who haven’t sold their first book yet—not because they aren’t gifted writers, but simply because the stars haven’t aligned quite right for them yet. Sometimes you need some lucky breaks to make good things happen in a career.
But all notions of luck aside… it occurred to me last week that I was also immersed in a field that nourishes me creatively because I made a decision to follow my bliss in Joseph Campbell terms. I was very influenced by The Power of Myth and embraced Campbell’s work on a lot of levels, personally and professionally. After graduating with a degree that I thought would put me on the right track for a good job, I realized I hadn’t followed my bliss and I wondered why not? I’d taken a safe route, choosing to study something I thought I’d be good at rather than something I was most passionate about.
I went back to school to study Literature, knowing it was a murkier path with a less hopeful financial outlook. But I believed in the Campbell idea that if I took the track I really craved, doors would open for me. The right people would appear in my path. It took some time, but that’s exactly what happened.
Even before the Internet connected our community so thoroughly, I was able to find like-minded friends. I met published authors at RWA chapter meetings who gave me advice and shared their journey to publication with me. I met ambitious unpublished authors who shared my goals. I met Catherine Mann, my gifted critique partner, who matched my enthusiasm and raised the stakes by challenging me to submit more and make my work better. More than any other sign, the arrival of Cathy in my life was a sign that I was moving in the right direction. The momentum our friendship generated was palpable. We studied harder together, read for one another constantly, woke up at night with ideas for each other’s manuscripts.
That boundless energy has channeled in new directions since then. As each of us found our way as published authors, we settled into a happy critiquing relationship and brainstorming partnership, helping one another to refill the creative well between books. I am following my bliss and every year uncovers a new challenge and a new reward that make my journey more meaningful. I try to share what I know with writers who are as hungry as I once was to share my stories with the world. Their fresh energy feeds mine and helps me to see how far I’ve come on this continually fascinating path.
If you haven’t been following your bliss lately… I highly recommend it.
***Let’s spread some optimism today! Share with me your favorite inspirational quote and one random poster will win a prize package of two books from the classics archive—a special edition of The Pleasure Trip, plus Riding the Storm, from my Murphy Brothers series in Harlequin Blaze. Here’s one of my fav quotes- “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt… what words lift you up?