There’s a video that recently went viral called A Pep Talk from Kid President to You. If you have not yet been “pep-talked,” you should stop reading this right now and go watch the video because it’s a great message and the speaker is totally adorable.
Anyway… There are a lot of great quotes crammed into that short video, but I find the one the resonates most with me today is where he quotes (or technically misquotes) Robert Frost.
“Two roads diverged in the woods… and I took the road less traveled.”
“AND IT HURT, MAN!”
I couldn’t help laughing at the dramatics as this child rants about rocks and thorns and glass. (“Not cool, Robert Frost.”) But at the same time I feel the weight of his declaration because I know… I know about those less traveled paths and how they hurt really bad. I know what it’s like to have those moments of doubt where I wonder if the other path would have been a better choice.
But then, I didn’t choose the less-traveled path; I was basically forced down it. So maybe a quote that resonates better with me is the words of the witty Maureen Johnson:
“There are times in life when only one path is presented to you. The path may be rocky, on fire, populated by poisonous cottonmouth snakes… but it’s your path.”
I’ll forgive her the redundant expression about poisonous cottonmouth snakes (duh), because I feel for her main character as I read those words. I know all about that dangerous path being the only one. And let me tell you… IT HURTS, MAN!
It has been exactly one year since I was officially declared a published author. One year since Beyond Waiting became a tangible object I could share with all of you. One year that feels like a lifetime. Because it has been so much longer than a year for me. It has, in fact, been three years. Three years of rocks and thorns and poisonous snakes.
All those months riddled with late night arguments where I explained to God that I am a novelist and will therefore never write anything other than a novel (Ha!).
All those stressful days of computer malfunctions and printer jams and last minute edits that wouldn’t save.
And then there was The Night. The Night I sat in a hotel corridor, waiting to be called in for a meeting with a publisher as my leg bounced frantically from a combination of nerves and the five glasses of sweet tea I was trying so hard to retain. The Night that woman (who has clearly never undergone the pains of presenting a book proposal) said to me in her thick, southern drawl, “It’s okay, honey. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”
I cried tears and lost sleep and threw my body all out of whack from the stress of this journey.
It hurt, man.
But you know something? Even if I could go back and choose a different path, I wouldn’t.
Because the journey was as beautiful as it was painful.
For every tear I cried, there were a dozen smiles. For every minute of sleep I lost, there was a moment when I was fully alive.
I argued with God and I danced with Him.
The computer malfunctioned, but the words never stopped spilling from my fingertips.
When the printer jammed, someone fixed it.
And on that very night I nearly died from a nervous breakdown and/or an overdose of sweet tea, Shannon Primicerio gave me a hug and promised me an endorsement.
I held a book in my hands. It had my name on the cover. I opened it up and buried my nose in its crisp, white pages. I handed it to a friend and watched him bury his nose in those crisp, white pages (because apparently we have the same, odd habit when it comes to books).
I watched a dream come true.
And there are people all around the world who thank me for the words I almost didn’t write.
Because I almost gave up and started paving my own path.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”