Fuck Plan B

Amanda Palmer made a commencement speech to the New York Institute of Art’s class of 2011. It is very much worth watching, or reading the transcript if you prefer. In it she talks about the Fraud Police. You know that feeling you have occasionally (or constantly) that you’re a fraud and someone is going to find you out? Yeah. That. That is something I can totally relate to — I bet we all can. I watched her speech and I thought ‘I ought to blog about that’ and maybe I will someday, but not today.

Not today because of three little words at the end of her blog (well, two words and a letter). Those words? Fuck plan B.

I <3 them.

For me they sum up a lot of things I find myself telling other writers, telling myself. Unfortunately, they are also very much open to interpretation, so let me tell you a little story about how I interpret them.

As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to ‘be a writer’. Now, that definition of ‘be a writer’ was not ‘someone who writes’. It encompassed a whole lot more than that. It meant publication, it meant people liking what I wrote, it meant writing as my full-time job. I wrote all the time in school. All the time. My friends (and even the other students who weren’t my friends) and my teachers said I was a good writer, they said I had “talent”. I believed them, but I didn’t. I tried, in high school, to get published. I submitted a couple (terrible) stories to magazines. They were rejected. I said all the right things about those rejections, “It’s not me they are passing on, it’s the story.” “It’s a good story, it’s just not right for them.” “Get back on the horse.” Etc. etc. I even sent some of them back out again, and got some more rejections.

In the end, the only thing I published prior to 2006 were letters to the editor in my local paper and one in Canadian Gardening that was mostly fiction though I pretended otherwise. I was pretty pleased with that silly letter getting published though, don’t get me wrong. I was willing to take my victories where they came.

They didn’t come often enough though, so I became discouraged. I gave up on writing as a career and I moved on to Plan B.

Now, there was no pivotal moment, no light switch that got flicked and made me say ‘No, I’m not going to do this, I’m going to do that’ but it happened. Slowly, insidiously, it happened. I became certain my dreams, my Plan A, was impossible so I moved on.

Oh, how I regret that now.

In 2006 I was re-assessing my career, my life. I was looking for a new direction. My husband, Jo, said to me “Well, if you could do anything in the world what would it be?”

“Writing. But that’s impossible.” I replied.

“Why?” he asked.

I had no answer.

That was a turning point for me. Now I’m living my Plan A. It’s taken time (oh, how I bemoan the lost years when I could have been honing my craft instead of writing it off as impossible) and it’s tough. I still feel like a fraud, and I struggle, but it beats the hell out of Plan B. Hope beats surrender.

So Fuck Plan B.

I don’t mean that people should be completely irrational. You shouldn’t give up your fantastic job to go be a starving artist if you’ve never picked up a paint brush before. You shouldn’t drop out of school to make a living writing poetry. But you should aim high. Don’t give up on yourself or your dreams. You should start learning to paint and practicing on weekends. You should start writing poetry in the evening after you’re done your homework instead of watching American Idol. Fuck Plan B doesn’t get to be an excuse for doing something foolish, but it can be fantastic motivation for doing something awesome.

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11 thoughts on “Fuck Plan B

  1. Hmm, I feel like I could’ve written this. Strange, that. Except I didn’t (don’t) have a Plan B. Plan A (or just Plan) has felt impossible at times, even several times every day, but the longer I plug away at it, the more I feel that I don’t have any other option, and I don’t want any other option. Sublime madness, I guess.

    Kudos to you, Ms. Parrish. I feel both humbled and encouraged by this post.

    • Sublime madness indeed πŸ™‚

      Thank you very much for your flattering and encouraging reply to my post, I truly appreciate it πŸ™‚

  2. I had almost the exact same conversation with my husband a few years ago. He had finished grad school and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do “when I grow up.” He looked at me and said, “What do you mean? You’re a writer. You should write.” And I couldn’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t.

    • It’s a pretty awesome feeling once you get past the moment of stunned silence, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

  3. “Now, there was no pivotal moment, no light switch that got flicked and made me say β€˜No, I’m not going to do this, I’m going to do that’ but it happened. Slowly, insidiously, it happened. I became certain my dreams, my Plan A, was impossible so I moved on.”

    THIS is one of the most important pieces of this topic I think. It’s not that anyone just up and decides to give up on their dreams. There’s rarely this one moment in time where you decide what you want is impossible. It just slowly creeps over you and before you know it all traces of Plan A are gone and Plan B is your entire life.

    Lovely stuff. Loved reading it. Still working on my strategy to Fuck Plan B, but people writing about their own stories certainly is encouraging and helpful.

    • Thank you very much Dawson πŸ™‚ I hope you find a way to live your Plan A. I’ll be rooting for you from the sidelines πŸ™‚

  4. C’est Moi, is ‘this you’? I enjoyed your inspiring article “Fuck Plan B” and wish to read more, as most of your FS posts get yanked before I even get notice in my in-box.
    I agree with what you and commenters have said about the slow evolving regression to the safety-net of Plan B. You give aspiring writers practical advice tempered with enthusiasm for “living the dream”.
    Sorry you felt compelled to out yourself at FS (saw your website posted on your profile page). Bummer. Glad to read your credits though and plan to visit this site again soon. Good luck with the deadlines and the doldrums…S.

    • Hiyas S πŸ™‚

      Yes, this is me. Thank you very much for looking up my blog and reading. If outting myself at FS has gained you as a blog reader, I think it was a price well-paid. Also, it has definitely encouraged some people to sheath their claws πŸ˜‰ I’m looking forward to having more time to post there, maybe you and I can try some of those 1 on 1 challenges at some point. I bet you’ll kick my butt, but it will push me to improve and that can’t be a bad thing πŸ™‚

  5. Rhonda, beautiful article I could feel your passion through the words.
    And btw you are absolutely right, all a plan B does is show that you have no faith in your plan A. There comes a time where you have to completely let go and trust that the higher power will take care of you which it will, every singe time

    • Thank you for coming by and leaving your mark Rafael πŸ™‚ I really appreciate your visit and your thoughts.

  6. Great post, Rhonda! I love the line that “hope beats surrender.” A few years back I also decided to fuck plan B, and I’m so glad I did. πŸ™‚

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