In the classic film "The Wizard of Oz", Dorothy is directed down the yellow brick road. It is a butter yellow configuration of evenly spaced rectangular bricks, starting in a swirling pattern and eventually leading to the Great and Powerful OZ.
In my experience, this 'road' and the symbol of 'the right road' it represents are a fallacy.
We never see Dorothy trip, or stub her toe on an uneven stone. We never feel the white heat of the sun reflecting up into her tired and bleary eyes. She skips and sings down the road, collecting friends, flowers, and eventually a make-over in The Emerald City.
Oh, if life were as uncomplicated as that road. Even the villains in Dorothy's life are ugly, nasty, and clearly against her success.
As I have worked toward goals in my life, The Yellow Brick Road has never made an appearance.
After years working through my grief surrounding my father's death. I was ready to go forward. Confident of my footing into adulthood. Eight and a Half months later, I lost my eyesight. I stumbled over this protruding stone in the road, while I learned to navigate, compensate, and obliterate obstacles. People who said; "Don't try." Self doubt that said; "You can't." and Darkness that promised; "You will fall."
I ignored them all, because I believed my life had purpose, my ability to see did not change that fact.
As i used my white cane to travel my new road, I found my best friend, my husband, my children, other blind people, and fantastic writers who believed in me.
Unfortunately, after two premature births, an international adoption, a shattered knee cap, and kidney failure, I was barely hanging on.
These were not unsteady bricks, or protruding stones in my road. These were boulders threatening to crush me.My brother graciously gave me his kidney. He gave me my life, and the opportunity to find my purpose.
With the little strength I had left, and a new spark of inspiration to live, I began to write.
This should have been my 'Emerald City' and in many ways it was: Exciting, fun, and a world I had never seen before.
The city was a facade. Like any other work, writing is hard. Don't fool yourself into thinking that talent and drive will bring you to the wizard's lair. There are over 100,000 people in line in front of you. The road is now a rocky trail that you must trudge down.
Give up on the 'Pretty Path'. It's a lie. Embrace the rocky road. You are stronger, smarter, better because you weren't expecting the leisurely stroll.
You may arrive dirty, your shoes broken, and your knees scabbed over. However, the path behind you is far more treacherous than the one ahead.
Now, You're the Wizard.
The tricks to staying focused and determined vary as much as the person. The key for me has always been my understanding that I am more than my broken body wants me to be.
As you struggle with criticism, nay-sayers, and those who cheer for your failure. Remember:
-No matter what the world tells you. You were born to stand out. Start by standing up, and doing what you think you can't do.
Write a really bad scene. Post your problems in a blog. Cry and scream until you can't any more.
Then go back to work.