Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Goals and Parakeets

I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. I’d decide on what that goal was, and go after it with a fierce, blinding determination. Granted, some of that came from not thinking things through long enough—I tend to do things the hard way.

When I was five years old I lived with my grandparents in Florida and I decided I wanted my very own parakeet. At the time there were parakeets flying around wild. Since I had no money to go to a pet store and buy one, I decided to catch myself a pet. I took an extra birdcage from my grandparents’ garage, put bird seed in the bottom of the cage to attract my future pet, and held onto a string tied to the door from a ways a way so when the bird few in, I'd let go of the string and have the pet of my dreams. Nanny was all for it—what bright adult wouldn’t be? I’m sure my grandmother thought it was one hell of a fine way to keep me out of her hair for a few hours. I was a bit of a precocious kid. What she, my mother, and the neighbors didn’t expect was for me to sit out there for three days, only going in when ordered to eat and sleep. On the fourth day, I must have dozed off in my chair, and when I awoke, there was a baby bird in my cage. I was so ecstatic, I called him Happy. It never occurred to me that this bird was way too young to fly, heck, he didn’t even have many feathers. Happy was so young, we ended up having to crush his bird seed, wet it down, and spoon feed him every few hours. Many years later I learned the neighbor, who had a nest of parakeets in his backyard birdhouse, took pity on me. He snatched Happy from the nest, and put him in the cage while I slept.

When I decided I wanted to be a published author, I jumped in with both feet. There’s no sticking in a big toe to test the water with me. No, I race, blindly sometimes, to that goal and trust everything will work out. After all, I’ve been told I have enough sheer will for ten people. But I’ve learned sheer will is not enough, although I don’t think it’s possible to get published and stay published without it. What I didn’t know I needed was support.

When I told my husband I wanted to write toward publication, when I stated my goal—something he’d been encouraging me to do for a while, the first thing he said was that since I had two full-time jobs (writing and taking care of the kids) and he only had one (working to pay the bills) that he’d take over the laundry and cleaning. I know, I’m really, really lucky! Together we sped toward my/our goal, making our three kids team players. I thought I had everything I needed until the first day I walked into an RWA Chapter’s sponsored event and met other writers—writers who asked me what I was working on, who took an interest in someone bound and determined to move forward despite not knowing which direction to take. Some of whom became my dearest of friends. These are the friends who gently steer me in the right direction when they think I’ve gone off course. They are friends who are there to bolster my confidence when it slips into the depths of bad reviews or writer's block. They’re the friends who listen to me whine and tell me that my work doesn’t suck when it doesn’t, and that it does suck when it’s warranted. Oh yeah, and those friends don’t just stop with writing. No, they’ve become a huge part of the rest of my life too.

I realized that without those friends like my old neighbor who waited until my back was turned and stuck a baby parakeet in my cage, I would never have achieved my goal. My writing friends have put metaphoric parakeets in my cage I didn’t recognize for years later, and some I might never find out about, but when it comes right down to it, I’m grateful for every phone call asking me how I’m doing, every time they give me the gentle push to do better.

The other night after a long, hard writing session, I was outside with my dog, looking up into the stars and counting my blessings. I’ve achieved another goal, I sold a new series to NAL and I know I didn’t achieve it alone. I’m grateful and I thank God every day for my family and for my family of writers. Like I said before, I’m very, very lucky.


Terri Osburn said...

Congratulations on the sale but even moreso on the awesome family and friends. The books are special, but those connections are priceless.

Cadence Denton said...

I believe that sometimes we make our own luck. Your story of grit and determination and plain old stubborness proves my theory. Congratulations on your continuing success...you deserve it!

Robin Kaye said...

Hi Terri - Thanks, I'm excited about the new sale! And of course your right. Without my family and friends, it all wouldn't be worth a hill of beans.

Robin Kaye said...

Thanks so much, Candence! I'm stubborn all right, and scarily determined, but I'm also really lucky and have been so blessed. It's important to remember we're not alone on our journey.

Avery Flynn said...

What a great story. May we all find parakeets when we need them. :)

Congrats on the sale!

Anna said...

What a lovely post! Very inspiring.

Cindy Nord said...


You inspire me to keep going. Indeed, my dream is but an arm's reach away. In the immortal words of Frank Lloyd Wright: 'The price of success is dedication, hard work, and an unrelenting devotion to the things you want to see happen.'


Cindy Nord

Christie Craig said...


I loved that post. And so, so damn true. I have so many close, very close writing friends.

I'm so very blessed!


Diana Cosby said...

*Hugs* Robin,
Wow, what a moving post. So, true, so very true. Thank you for sharing, this poignant story will truly stay within my mind. May your cage of life continue to be blessed with parakeets. *Hugs*

Diana Cosby said...

Holy cow, *Blush*, so caught up about the parakeets, I forgot to congratulate you on your new sale! C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S!!!
*Hugs* my friend. :)

Gwynlyn said...

NAL? WOW! I'm so happy for you!!! Our Kate is a "Devil take the hindmost", both feet, worry-about-it-later kind of gal, too. It can be scary, but little gets in the way---even common sense sometimes. *G*

Whatever it took to get you where you are, I'm thankful for it; I might have missed knowing you, otherwise. {{{Hugs}}}

Sandy said...

What a wonderful post, Robin. I love the parakeet story. Congratulations on your achievements, wonderful family and writing friends.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Avery - Thanks for the congratulations! It's almost as much fun to find parakeets in your cage as it is to fill someone else's.

@ Anna - Thanks so much. I'm glad you thought so.

@ Cindy - I love that FLW quote. It's our job to make things happen, not to settle for less--oh, and write a damn good book. :)

@ Christie - Yup, we both are. Life is good.

@ Diana - Thanks so much for the good wishes. ((((Hugs)))))

@ Gwyn - Common sense? What's that? I'm glad too, your one of my wonderful writer friends I'm so thankful for! ((((Hugs))))

@ Sandy- Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Happy was a very cool bird except he repeated everything he heard. When I went through the swearing stage he got me in a whole lot of trouble.

Anonymous said...

That's such a cool story! (And you're such a cool storyteller!) Funny, I've always wanted a parakeet, or any other kind of bird, but I was always too afraid to take that step. Maybe I should've done like you and just jumped the hell on in. Attagirl!!

Jacqueline Harris said...

I loved your post Robin. It has given me the inspiration to continue my writing journey. Congratulation on your sale to NAL.

Robin Kaye said...

@ Carla - Go for it, Carla. Just make sure you handle them a lot and talk to them often. Ask for a male, they talk.

Happy was so much fun, he'd ride around on my Irish Setter--Mulligan's head, he'd speak broken English to my grandmother in a high-pitched voice, and in a low broken English to my grandfather. He had a love of wine, martinis and spaghetti. He was with me for 16 years. I adored him.

@ Jacqueline - I'm so glad you liked it. Keep working toward your goal and thanks for the good wishes!