Monday, January 14, 2013

Death to Plan B

The single greatest impediment to the success of Plan A is to have a really solid Plan B. 

Plan A by nature is more true, daring, and risky. It comes from the heart, from the gut, from unexpected successes, flashes of insight, moments of pure confidence. But for Plan A to become more than a bubbling in the belly and  real in the world, it must first push through the bullet-proof scrim of Plan B.

Plan B, ever practical and durable, is an extremely good liar. It tells you that you you don't need to give up security to achieve a dream; you can have your cake and eat it, too. That is true, if you like your cake crumbly and dry with no frosting or non-pareils.

Plan B crosses its legs and you looks straight in the eye: if you have a dream like writing, or singing, or performing—can't you work on that at night after your kids have gone to sleep? There's a good two hours of time right there. Imagine what you could accomplish with your exhausted, end-of-the-day brain if you used your night hours. It's your dream, so stop whining that your creativity is more ripe, bursting, and explosive first thing in the morning. That's a cop out, Plan B tells you, plucking a cat hair off its black turtleneck. 

Devote some time to your dream, Plan B continues, of course, but don't forget to put the lion's share of your energy toward that which enervates you. Work hard to stay exactly where you've already been. Cultivate the same solid, secure, goals and sources of approval you achieved ten years ago. Be safe, be assured, put food on the table and money away for taxes. Route the sewer. Replace the roof. You're reaching the age where you also probably need to up your life insurance.

Plan B's on a roll, now. It's a shame you can't take advantage of lower interest rates with your house being too far underwater to refinance and all. Too bad you're working harder to make less money now that half your industry has been outsourced to India. Just become indispensable. Become un-outsourcable. You know what you should do—you should learn Javascript. You'd be really good at coding because you are creative and logical. Who says art has to be limited to writing a novel? Live the creative life and let go of what creativity looks like. If you open your mind, you could be happy and have a good job. A web development firm with three weeks' vacation, a dart board, and free Intelligentsia coffee.

Plan B nestles in your ear, wallowing in its waxy cushion. Books are becoming extinct anyway, at least that's what it read on Yahoo! If you still insist on hitching your harness to the relic of publishing, at least write your novel while your kids are napping. What, your kids don't nap? Give them a twig and twine and tell them to go entertain themselves. That's what we did when we were kids. We spent hours building forts out of old newspapers and used Dixie cups. That's why we're so superior now, and why we give such great advice.

NEXT: A little more about Plan A.

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