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The Five Year Plan


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Hello! I'm experimenting with blogging every day. Because I'm very new to this, I need your help. Please take a minute to drop me a line and let me know what you think. I will post stories, thoughts, and possibly recipes (if I'm having an off day). Here's the post for today.


I've been reading some writing advice and blogs lately. Just a few (or twenty). I've been advised to have a long-term goal and a five-year plan a lot. Which makes sense, really. You need to know where you want to be in five years so that you can start working toward it now.

BUT. Five years ago, my five-year plan would have looked something like this: stay in our beautiful big house in Ottawa, get a sessional job teaching at the university, do some research as an independent/adjunct researcher, get some papers published. I saw myself mainly as a researcher, and as a not-so-big-town-girl.

Then, my partner said one day that one of his coworkers is transferring to Paris. "I can do my job from Paris," he said. And the introvert, stay-in-your-comfort-zone, anxious mother who was talking to him said, "I can write my PhD from Paris. Let's do it." That anxious mother was me, and I surprised him as well as myself. A year later we were on our way to a two-year stint in London (because it made more sense for his company and we said, hey, Europe is Europe). Here, I finished my PhD and started writing fiction. I discovered I love writing fiction. I got a paper published (then a response to a commentary, which was fun), but I realised I can't work in academia. Not now, at least. I like spending time with my kids too much. Fiction writing I can do on flexible hours--when they're in school or after they're in bed. I discovered I love living in a big city, and I'm not willing to trade the hustle and bustle for a big house in the suburbs. I didn't even realise I wasn't as happy as I could be before we moved to London.

So, sure, I have a five-year plan. I plan to write and read and travel as much as I possibly can. I even have goals for that. I want to write two books a year for the next five years, up my reading capacity from 24 books a year to 52 books a year, and travel up to 4 weeks at a time with my family. But I know in my heart (which is different than knowing in your mind) that these plans mean nothing. It can all change tomorrow.

My grandmother used to say, "A man makes plans and, God laughs; it sounds better in Yiddish". ("It sounds better in Yiddish" was how all of her sayings ended). She mostly meant a war could break out, and you could lose everything you have and everyone you love. Because she did (that's another story, really). Sure, I can be diagnosed with some chronic disease or get hit by a bus. But--and I think this is more terrifying than any external changes that might happen--I can decide all of a sudden that I'm done, and I want to do something else. I'm not necessarily saying I will, but if I could surprise myself into moving to London, who knows what will happen? Five years is a long time.

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#Writing #Plans #Goals #Surprises

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