Managing Transitions

We’ve all been there. One phase of our life ends and another one begins. A relationship withers and a new one is born. We work diligently at something and, in the mist of that work, discover that we should be doing something different. Out of nowhere, an unexpected phone call leads us down a new path.

Transitions are a thin place. In divinity school, they referred to that as a ‘liminal space.’ The old is leaving but the new has not yet arrived. And so transitions are often as scary as they are enticing.

I’ve been writing fiction for twenty years and I’ve been a ‘published author’ for fourteen of those years. It’s been an amazing journey, but one thing it’s taught me is that transitions are inevitable. The publishing industry, like the rest of life, isn’t static. Call it a process, a journey, or simply a form of chaos, but my life as a writer has been filled with its share of sad endings and expectant new beginnings.

These days, I find myself in the midst of another transition. The rights to seven of my novels have reverted back to me, so I am learning how to become my own publisher. It’s a lot of transition. The learning curve that I am surfing is a monster wave. But it’s also exciting — now I am making the production, editing, sales, and marketing choices. Of course, if it doesn’t work, I will know who to blame! 😉

So I am learning a new way to be a ‘published author,’ even after all these years. I’m also writing in a new sub-genre (young adult fantasy), and that’s as exciting as it is terrifying.

As difficult as transitions are, we need them. Life that becomes too static isn’t life any more. You, too, may be facing some kind of transition in your life. If you are, here are a few words of advice from my journey:

  1. Breathe. Seriously. Right now. Take a deep breath. Do that a lot. It will keep you grounded in times of stress.
  2. Trust yourself. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you don’t know yourself, I recommend that you start journaling. Three pages every morning, if possible. No rules, no regulations. Just put pen to paper and don’t let them lose contact.
  3. Keep it all in perspective. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Kingdoms will not rise and fall based on your transition. Not unless you’re Elizabeth II, and if you are, and you’re reading this blog, I might pass out from joy.
  4. Honor what you need to do. It can be hard, if those close to us don’t understand why we need to go in a new direction. Trust that the people who love you will continue to love you. If for some reason they don’t, then they probably weren’t actually one of the people who love you to begin with. (Side note: Remember to treat those folks with respect and kindness. Your transition may impact their lives in ways you didn’t think about.)
  5. Practice gratitude. Gratitude gives us an authentic connection to the past and to the present. It helps us remember who we are and what we value as we look to the future. If we remember those things, we will be okay.

Transitions can often feel like crossing a swaying, decaying footbridge over a deep ravine. But sometimes there’s no way to get to the other side but to take that first, tentative step, and then to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I’ll be posting about my journey here, and you’ll be able to tell what’s happening for me as my website continues to be updated. I wish you joy on your journey, wherever you may be on your particular path.

One foot in front of the other. There’s really no other way to move forward, is there?