Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Daring to imagine a different life...

We all make choices in our lives, and some are harder than others. For me, one of the toughest decisions I've made so far was leaving Hollywood.

Not only had I worked my butt off for five years to get to that point (and let me clarify that I really wasn't that far--but I did have my foot in the door), but I also had more than a few friends who thought I was crazy to walk away--and told me so. Not to mention there were quite a few annoying people who saw it as a sign of failure when I left LA and returned to my hometown. (Yeah, there was a lot of "well look who came crawling back...")

It was scary and hard and I lost a lot of sleep during that time. But I got through it by reminding myself of one of my favorite movie quotes ever, from You've Got Mail.

When Meg Ryan's character **SPOILER ALERT** announces that she's going to close her bookstore because it's losing money, her friend Birdie tells her that closing the store is the brave thing to do. And when Meg Ryan agues that it isn't, Birdie tells her this:

"You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life."

I have clung to those words because they are so true. Changing your mind can feel like failure--but it's not. It's being brave enough to admit that you want to have a different life than the one you'd been working toward. 

In my case, I'd realized that I just didn't belong in Hollywood. That I'd never be happy there. The cowardly thing really would've been staying there and being miserable, just because I was too afraid of what people would think. So I dared to imagine that I could have a different life. I figured out what it was I loved (writing) and I went after it. 

Do some people think I'm crazy? Probably. Especially since I still don't have a book on the shelves with my name on it. But I'm okay with my choice. And hopefully someday I'll reach the dream I've been chasing. 

I'm not entirely sure why I've been thinking about this--I walked away from Hollywood almost seven years ago. But I had that quote on my mind and I thought I would share it--along with how it has helped me--because I wonder if some of you have felt the same way at some point. 

Maybe some of the people in your life think you're crazy for writing a book. Maybe you feel bad that writing takes time away from other things. Maybe you're querying or subbing and dealing with the heartache of rejection and wondering how to keep going. Whatever it is, I wanted you to know how brave you are. 

You are daring to imagine that you could have a different life. 

Be proud of yourself for being brave enough to do it. You should be! And someday it will pay off and you'll be so glad you did it. 

What about you guys? Any quotes from books or movies help you through a difficult time? (Or is that just me?) If nothing else, anyone a fan of You've Got Mail? I swear I could watch that movie a thousand times and not get tired of it. :)


  1. Here's one from Galaxy Quest: "Never give up! Never surrender!" A good quote for a writer's life.

    Sometimes I do think how much easier life would be if I didn't write. I'd only have one job and more free time. I have to admit being tempted some days, especially when I'm discouraged.

    Good for you for walking away from what wasn't right for you.

  2. Good for you for having the courage to walk away when you knew something wasn't right for you. As for writing, I would have more free time...but also no outlet. I'm not quite sure what I'd do with myself.

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  3. The brave and wise person can admit when they're on the wrong path, too. Fools keep going because they don't want to admit they are wrong.

    And love the Galaxy Quest quote!

  4. I love You've Got Mail, and I find that quote extremely inspiring. I've done a 180 on my life plans recently as well, and it's scary to think about, but my gut tells me it's the right thing to do, and I always listen to my gut. Especially if it's hungry...

  5. What an inspiring post - I can only imagine how hard it must be to give all that up and start something new.

    I don't have a favorite quote that I can remember off the top of my head, but I do love You've Got Mail :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Shannon, this was a lovely post. Thank you for sharing it.

    I have different quotes that help me at different times. At the moment, I'm struggling with the discipline of sitting down and writing every day (instead of blogging or emailing or reading for fun), and the quote that motivates me to WORK on my books is Edna Mode's line from The Incredibles:

    "Go, Fight, WIN!"

    If I don't go and fight, I can't win. (Also, I loved the moment when she said that - it makes me happy, and when I'm happy, I'm more productive.)

  7. I love YOU'VE GOT MAIL. Especially when she's doing her little boxing moves in the back of the store, preparing to "Go to the mattresses"

    Great quote. And yay you for following your truth. :)

  8. I love that quote (and that movie--could definitely watch it 1,000 times)! I may have to print it out and stick it on my refrigerator. Anything to keep up a positive attitude is wonderful!

  9. Yes! That is one of my fave quotes from one of my fave movies. I'm a total cheese-head for stuff like this.

    I think Finding Nemo has some of the best quotes ever:

    Dory: Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills, when life gets you down do you know wanna know what you gotta do?
    Marlin: No, I don't wanna know.
    Dory: Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

    Marlin: I promised I'd never let anything happen to him.
    Dory: Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise.
    Marlin: What?
    Dory: Well, you can't never let *anything* happen to him. Then nothing would *ever* happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.

    Stopping there. I could do this all day. :)

  10. I pretty much love all Meg Ryan films. I'm just sayin.

    Seriously though, this is a great point. I'd never thought about it that way but you're right, it takes a lot of courage to go against the status quo. Change is scary.

    But if you really dream, and you do whatever it takes to achieve it, it will be worth it.

  11. You were brave. You ARE brave. Keep it up. The dream will happen for you. And when you succeed, it will merely be validation of what you already believe--of what we already know to be true about you. I think you're on the cusp of success, luv.

  12. Thanks, Shannon, for the encouragement. :)

    I have a fondness for quotes - they decorate my mirror, my whiteboard, and my facebook. But we'll just go with two:

    "Be who you are and say what you feel, 'cause those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." - Dr. Seuss

    "Are you ready to be who you are?" - the newest Robin Hood movie (I actually heard this one in the trailer and it really resonated with me. Sometimes we're so afraid of really fulfilling our destiny, of being the truest 'ourselves,' that we do all sorts of other things to avoid it.)

  13. my problem with "You've Got Mail" is that it seemed to be a film about why small businesses, the ones that planted the seeds of a successful industry, should be grateful that they're being put out of business by faceless, impersonal, larger businesses.

    while jean stapleton's optimism and "look on the bright side" pep talk to meg ryan was nice, i saw it as part of the larger Big Business/Brother Knows Best philosophy and it just made me angry.

    -- Tom

  14. The way I put it--I'm betting on myself. That made me realize I actually could believe in me, in my ability and talent, that I could take that risk, win or lose and come out stronger.
    Thumbs up to you, Shannon. I have no doubt your book will be published.

  15. I love this post and I absolutely LOVE You've Got Mail. "Bouquets of sharpened pencils..." Another favorite quote that me and my husband love to give each other is when Tom Hanks is shaking the fence in front of the coffee shop saying, "She had to be." Nothing like watching that movie on a cold fall evening with a blanket and a pumpkin spice candle burning!

    Good for you for daring to live a different life! You were walking into the unknown :)

  16. I love that movie too! Especially when she says, "I hoped it'd be you!" or something to that affect. This post was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks for posting!!

  17. That is a really great quote and great to be reminded of it. I wish I would have read it when I had to move back to small town life, feeling very much like a failure. It's true, I have chosen to live a different life with this choice...except it still isn't working out in my favor and I feel like a failure. And then I remember, I have a plan to change this life and it is up to me to follow through. Great post!

  18. hi miss shannon! wow that a cool story and for sure youre real brave. i saw that mail movie and pretty much liked it. for what you did a good quote that i do all the time is follow your heart. im real glad you did that and now you sound like youre real happy and that makes me happy too.
    ...hugs from lenny

  19. Great quote. I love that movie. "I hoped it'd be you!" *sigh*

    Life doesn't always go as we plan it. Sometimes that turns out to be a good thing, sometimes not. But you can never stop living, never give up, never say die!

  20. Love it!!! One of the top ten best movies of all time (to me).

    I can totally relate to your story. I still have relatives gripping over my move from law school to writing. Oh well, they have to live their lives and I have to live mine. I'm better off doing what I know I love and buying earplugs for family get togethers. ;)

  21. Inspiring post! Kind of sums up where I am in my life right now.

    YGM is a cute movie, but my fave Hanks/Ryan match-up has to be Joe Versus the Volcano. Seriously. It also has a very inspiring message about daring to imagine a different life... except that you can change anytime, no brain-cloud necessary. ;)

  22. This is awesome! I think sometimes when you make a choice like that, you have to have some years behind you before you can really evaluate it. I'm so glad you had the strength to "imagine differently." So many people don't dare.

  23. I think its fantastic that you took a chance. I've had choices like that, too, and the decisions I made were ultimately the best ones.

  24. I love that quote from 'You've Got Mail'. It was brave to leave but you have to follow your dreams.

    My fav.:

    “Somewhere along the line we stopped believing we could do anything. And if we don’t have our dreams, we have nothing.”
    Billy Bob Thornton from The Astronaut Farmer.

  25. This is a great story to share. I think it says a lot about you that you followed your heart regardless of what others might think. We are defined by the choices we make!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  26. Yep! You are the Queen. What a wonderful message and example, Shannon! I always tell my students to be very careful and deliberate about their futures and career choices. Robert Frost says that only when what we do for PLAY is also what we do for WORK can we be truly happy. :-)

  27. How brave of you! This post is inspiring. (And I love the Nemo quotes Lydia)

    "It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -- e.e. cummings
    Making Life a Work of Art!

  28. By the way Shannon, I just gave you an award on my blog. http://perfectingthecraft.blogspot.com/

    Thanks for your daily posts!

  29. "Ignore Adversity" from To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar!

    This is such an inspirational post, thank you!! It's a brave and brilliant decision to turn away from something so dazzling to something you know is true to your heart.

    Take care

  30. Oh, I love the daring to live a different life. Great quote--and I love that movie.

    One quote I always say to myself is "Never give up! Never surrender!" It's from Galaxy Quest, and it reminds me that I have to work for what I want. So yeah.

  31. I love that quote! And that is so inspiring that you are daring to live your different life. I think we all are, hopefully. I have so many movies that I love, and great quotes, but I'm drawing a blank right now. That one was pretty perfect!

  32. This was a great post...and it gave me a little inspiration for the ol' WIP, which is always nice. :-)

  33. Whoa. This is so damn close to my own life, it's like you were channeling me there for a moment. I haven't gone back to my hometown (as much as I love New Orleans, I don't miss the hurricanes at all), but I'm "out" of Hollywood and pursuing my writing like never before. Plus, it's fun to correct people by saying, "No, actually, I'm writing a novel, not a script."

    As for quotes, I rely on words of wisdom from Back to the Future: "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything." :)

  34. That's a beautiful quote!

    True too. Sometimes it's just easier to go down with the ship, than to admit you maybe shouldn't have gotten on it in the first place.

  35. It's been far too long since I've seen You've Got Mail. I adore that quote, and this post is so true. Sometimes even the "imagining" part of a new path is scary!


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