I've been reading the blog Sometimes Sweet for a week or two and I absolutely love it. It's written by Danielle, a former high school English teacher who's now a stay-at-home mom of two. I love to read her thoughts on life in general (and marriage in particular), to look at the pictures of her adorable boys and to see that her daily life across the pond is just as busy as mine here in France. Last week, she relaunched a project of hers called "Journal Day". Every Sunday, she gives us a prompt and invites us to write about it in our blog. Then, on Thursday, she publishes her prompt response in her blog and invites us to leave a comment with one or two sentences from our own entry, as well as the link, so we can all check out each other's responses. (Which is why this post exists both in French, for my regular readers, and in English, for Danielle and her readers if they wish to come and read this - hi guys!)
This week, the prompt is about crossroads. We all experience in our life key moments that turn out to be turning points. I did experience one of these when I was 18 and it did change my life. My career (I'm a book translator) and my love life might not be what they are today if I hadn't met a bunch of writers one afternoon of February 1999.
I was in college back then but it was winter break. (We have lots of breaks during the school year in France.) I was supposed to meet my best friend that day but she couldn't make it. So I was contemplating an afternoon of reading and watching some TV when my brother showed up and offered to drive my mom and I to town. Who would say no to some shoppin session? (Well, not me, that's for sure.) So off I went. I remembered thinking I wasn't really dressed for it (meaning I was dressed for a casual afternoon at home) and maybe I shouldn't go out like this. Then again, I wasn't supposed to meet someone special, was I? I was just going shopping with my mom.
Note to self (and to you too, dear readers): whenever you go out, always dress as if youd had an important appointment. (Even though, in the end, my outfit didn't matter at all, I'm still a little mortified I ended up having one of the most important encounters of my life while not looking my best!)
I don't think my mom and I went further than the library. I was and I still am a book worm! While she went on her own to check the books she was interested in, I wandered to the SF-Fantasy department. (I'm a book worm and a nerd, if you must know.) There, I came across a poster announcing that three writers from a small publishing house were coming here to sign their books. I was a fan. I had almost all their books. And they were coming here. They were coming here that day. They were coming here in an hour.
My mom went back home alone. I didn't go shopping. I wandered in the library for an hour, waiting. But I had never met writers at the time and I was really self-conscious. So I spent these (very long) sixty minutes arguing with myself, torn between fear and excitement. No, you're not going to actually talk to them? You're just gonna take a look, see what they look like and go home. / What? Are you mad? You love their books, you can have these people sign them. It's awesome!
Well, the good thing about myself is that I may lack confidence sometimes but I tend to take leaps of faith no matter what. So, instead of giving in to fear, I went to talk to the three writers. And I did even better than that. One of them wasn't just a writer, he also was the head of that publishing house. I knew they only published young French writers at the time. So I jumped in and confessed I was writing Fantasy myself. We spoke for more than half an hour. The next day, I sent him my manuscript. Six months later, I signed my first publishing contract.
This encounter, which would never have happened without my friend bailing out on me and my brother offering to drive me to town, changed everything in my life. I didn't become a famous writer as I stopped writing after I completed that first Fantasy series (although I hope to get back to it now that my kids are older). But this publisher left the firm to start his own publishing house and I became an intern there. They sent me to a small book fair in the south of France and that's where I met my husband. (We've been together since 2001, married in 2003 and have two kids.) They also offered me my first book translation and I've been working for them ever since.
I owe everything to that encounter and that publisher who's become a friend. I owe it/him my job and my family. Of course, at the time, I didn't realize I was living such a key moment. And yet I was at a crossroad. If I had given in to my fear, if I had ran away as my body so wanted to, my life would probably be very different. We can never know, of course, but I'm happy things went this way and I treasure this memory, this marker in my life, because it was the first time I stood up for myself and dared to say: "This is who I am, this is what I do."
And I can tell you it felt pretty good.
Picture found on Etsy, via Pinterest.