[MAKING THE LEAP] Into the Abyss
Contributor
Written by
Julie Luek
November 2012
Contributor
Written by
Julie Luek
November 2012

There is a great scene in the movie Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade where Indiana, in an exhausting and perilous journey to find the holy grail, is at last confronted with the final obstacle to his goal. The entrance to the cave holding the coveted cup is within sight. The problem? In order to get to it, Indiana must somehow cross a seemingly bottomless chasm. But the distance is too great to jump, and Indiana can't see a way to the other side. As far as his vision can tell, if he steps off the ledge, he will plummet off the rocky edge to his inevitable death.

 

A year and a half ago, I made a huge, life-altering decision. By most standards of logic, especially given our economy (and my age), it was a foolish decision. I left a decent-paying career in higher education--one that had exacted a toll of a couple degrees and 22 years of my life--to write. I looked over the edge into the unknown and unpredictable and gulped. It was scary. I have to admit, the image of Indiana Jones stepping off into the abyss occurred to me more than once.  

Am I hearing a collective gasp of incredulity? But wait, there's more to the story.

 

In the movie, Indiana's father, who lies dying in another part of the cavern whispers, "You must believe, boy. You must believe." Indiana, hearing his father's cries of pained agony echoing down the stony corridors, reaches within himself, gathers all the courage he can muster, lifts his foot high, and wills himself to move forward. He takes the fateful step--all to save his father's life

 

Although my circumstances may not have been as dire as the death of a loved one, the fear of stepping forward was palpable. But like Indy's father, my dream kept calling to my heart, "You must believe, child." After a year of contemplating the decision and debating the pros and cons, I finally took the big step. How could I not?  My dream was calling to me; I had to save its life.

 

As the music and tension builds, Indiana steps into the unknown and unseen. His foot miraculously lands on a solid rock bridge that is suddenly visible, and with great relief he walks safely to the other side. The lesson, of course: he couldn't see the way until he took the step. 

 

wish life were as neatly written as a screenplay. I wish I could tell you I took my step, found my footing and am on my way to finding the holy grail of a published novel. But we all know the scenes in our lives aren't as nicely scripted as a Hollywood blockbuster. I'm still crossing the bridge one small, careful step at a time--a few published articles, building a platform, a fiction WIP (Work In Progress). 

 

Whether you quit a job or not, writing has called you. It's why you're here on She Writes. It's why I'm here. What has your journey been like? Do you feel like you're taking steps on an invisible bridge across a bottomless abyss? What dream is calling you to "just believe"?  

 

I look forward to the coming weeks and month as we take this leap together, one tentative step at a time. It's heart-stopping and fearful, exhilarating and exciting, and the dream is just on the other side.

 

Movie Clip:

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Bridge of Faith Scene

 

Keep Writing,
Julie

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Comments
  • Pamela Olson

    When I made the decision to focus primarily on writing for a while (it turned out to be a longer while than expected... as it usually is), I posted about the decision on my blog and sent it to all my friends and contacts so that I would not have an easy way to back down. I titled the post, "Out of the Closet." http://fasttimesinpalestine.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/out-of-the-closet

    Note the absolutely hilarious line (keeping in mind I wrote the email in January): "Hopefully by April I’ll have an agent and a working draft." Oh, sweetie.

    Of course, coming out as a writer is probably not as momentous as it is for some people when they come out to friends and family as gay. Still, to me, it was absolutely terrifying. Most people were supportive (though I suspected them of laughing behind their hands), but others did not hesitate to share their facts, statistics, and opinions about why I would almost certainly fail.

    "Faith" is the best way to describe how I was able to move forward at all. Blind faith. It is absolutely like stepping into the abyss. You cannot see the way forward except by creating that way. But I knew I would never be happy if I didn't at least give it a serious go. As a philosopher once said, "Disposition is synonymous with fate."

    Five years later, my book is coming out in March 2013. There has been nothing easy about the trip, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

  • Julie Luek

    Deborah--Interesting thought about jumping into chaos in order to move forward. Sigh, that's probably correct and I'm such an orderly person! Some things can't be avoided.

    Daphne--Thanks, from the looks of all the comments, I'm in fantastic company.

    Jobi--Ah, sounds like we will be trekking together.

    Karoline-- Congratulations on the novel. Giving you a celebratory fist-pump in the air. Thanks for the reminder that it's a slow journey, reminds me to take a deep breath and be patient.

  • Karoline Barrett

    Hi Julie. I loved your article.  Although I haven't quit my "day" job, I still manage to write. I'm represented my Literary Counsel and my agent, Fran Black is busy trying to sell my first novel as I write on my second. The one thing I've learned is the road to being published is long and it's a very slow journey!

  • Jobi Harris

    Thank you , Julie, and congratulations on taking the big step out of a job. That was the easy part for me. The rest.... Well, I am happy you are writing this series!

  • Daphne Q

    Congrats on taking that leap!

  • Deborah Johnstone

    Julie, someone once told me that the abyss is where one had to be if change is to occur.... Actually, I believe they told me that I would have to jump off the cliff and into chaos, in order to move forward. I'm so glad you took the leap - I'm in the middle of mine. I'll be checking in with you...Thank you for sharing!

  • Julie Luek

    Glynis- I love your comment of being a community of like-spirits. That's just spot on.  I couldn't have said it better. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  • Glynis Rankin

    This story was encouraging to me, a young writer just starting out. Persistence is what we all need, with heart and love for the art form we have chosen, or rather chosen us. I take heart Julie,that I'm in a community of like spirits in which I can learn as much as possible about writing and publishing my work. We are like spirits in this  pursuit, taking that step of faith.

  • Julie Luek

    Dixie-- I have followed every link and blog connection I've seen on here thus far today and look forward to checking out your book as well. I'm very faith-based but have really let that aspect of me plummet as of late so your words poke my heart a little. Thanks for taking the time to comment and all the best to you in the success of your book!

  • DIXIE DIAMANTI

    Wow, Julie!!  You have captured a writer's heart with this article.   Having just taken a leap of faith and self published my own book, and  marketing it myself, God continually reminds me that He called me to be a writer, I had a story to tell, and as I continue with each step into the "abyss" and obey His bidding, that He will take care of the rest.  It is about obedience and faith.  Thanks from one who is still floating in the air..........Blessings to you!!

    You can find my book at: http://www.amazon.com/Climbing-Out-Box-Journey-Spiritual/dp/1478296852/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354233742&sr=1-1&keywords=climbing+out+of+the+box

  • Julie Luek

    Love that Rebecca, thank you.

  • Rebecca Forster

    Julie, great to hear from you. I think we all need to encourage each other. The one thing those outside the business don't know is how much blood, sweat and tears go into each book so we need to rely on each other for that deep understanding. Being an author is like climbing a ladder. Reach up for your dream but reach down to help someone climb. You never know when you're going to be the one who needs help or encouragement.

  • Julie Luek

    Rebecca-- Thanks for sharing your story. I love all the unique ways people have found their way off the ledge. Congratulations on such great success and for inspiring and encouraging those of us on the front end of the journey.

  • Rebecca Forster

    My journey has been a roller coaster. My first book was published as were the next two. Rejections followed as I changed genres. A USA Today bestseller happened because of an editor with a vision. I worked corporately while I wrote for years. Quitting work to write was terrifying but my invisible bridge, though, was taking the leap to become an Indie author after 25 years with New York publishers. The leap has been more than worth it. I work harder than ever before but the rewards are greater, there are things I miss (like a wonderful editor) but I have creative freedom. It's been a great ride. Congratulations on starting your journey. It will take you to wonderful places. 

  • Julie Luek

    Danyelle-- You are not alone. I hope you'll follow along and share your experiences as we go through this together. It's all about the encouragement and support we can offer each other. Go ahead and jump-- it's not too scary!

  • Danyelle C. Overbo

    Great post!  There's nothing like knowing you are not alone.  I'm in preparations for making the leap myself and it is scary!

  • Julie Luek

    Peg- I definitely can relate to your experience. I also appreciate the realistic time-frame.  It's important to keep that in mind, I think. Congratulations on finally seeing fruit from your labors!

  • Peg Herring

    I, too, left education when I realized I'd done everything I wanted to do in that field. I could either keep repeating myself or try something new. I planned to give myself two years to see if I had what it takes to be a writer. Once I started, though, writing was all I wanted to do (still is!). Luckily my husband is supportive and my career finally took off--after SIX years. I'd never tell anyone to assume they're going to be able to make a living as a writer, but when someone says, "I couldn't put your book down,"that's enough for me!

  • Julie Luek

    Tonya-- I totally could have written your last paragraph word-for-word. That's been exactly my journey.  I'll write more about it sometime.  But oh my, the learning curve!

  • T.J. Loveless

    This is wonderful, capturing the fear of stepping out of our comfort zones.  I've always been the leap don't look type, explaining why I've had so many "adventures" - some good, some bad, some I try to scrub from memory.  But it's brought me here. 

    As for writing, this is the first time I decided to sit down and really give it a good chance.  My initial goal in the beginning was to write and find an agent. Instead it has turned into Learn How To Write Properly For An Audience. Learn How Publishing Works in Real Life and the oh-so-painful Pull On Your Big Girl Panties During Painful Critiques.  

    So far, I love this new adventure.

  • Julie Luek

    Connie-- I will be first in line to buy your books. I love memoir type books that show me a glimpse into a different lifestyle and new views on life. I'm also anxious to visit your website-- thanks for sharing. And thanks for encouraging us with your story.

  • Connie L. Stambush

    Julie, your post really resinated with me because in 1992 I too stood at the edge of my life and didn't like the scenery, so I quit my corporate job of 14 years to travel abroad. I had a degree in journalism I could rely on while traveling (and did, working in Prague and later India) to earn money while away.

    I intended to travel for 6 months to 1 year, but stayed abroad for 6 years. I'm sure people thought I was crazy for giving up the "good life", but I'd always felt life was short and I didn't want to find myself at the end of it regretting my inability to take a risk and do what I really wanted to do with my life.

    Today I back in the States after some great adventures (I rode a motorcycle solo around the edge of India -- 5 months and 11,000+km). I learned a lot about myself on that journey in terms of what I am capable of accomplishing. If you want to test your grit you've got to step off the edge.

    I'm still doing my own thing, making my living as an independent writer and editor, and I have no regrets. I'm working on a book (that is ready to find a home) titled "Naked on the Edge: a Motorcycle, a Goddess, and a Journey Around India" and blogging about risk in terms of rethinking, rebooting, and reinventing life at www.clstambush.com.

    I look forward to following your progress. Best of luck!

  • Julie Luek

    Kaitlin- I appreciate you bringing up the importance of community. Absolutely finding support and like-minded souls helps make the leap less frightening. I hope we hear more about your book very soon.

  • Kaitlin Solimine

    Thanks for sharing this story, Julie. I made the leap five years ago and it is the best thing I've ever done. Every day I am grateful for the time I spend with my writing -- first book is off with the agent, but I have faith it will find its way into the world someday soon and now I'm so enamored by the next work. This community has also made me feel less alone - not walking across the bridge by myself, but with a host of others taking the same leap. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing more about your writing.

  • Julie Luek

    Julia-- so nice to see you here! Cheering us both on. We are already encouraging each other and can continue to do so. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi.

    Julie- Hi thanks for commenting. I'm grateful for our connection here and elsewhere. Paychecks are a necessary fact of life. Sigh. When you do decide to take the leap, it looks like you-- and I-- are in great company. We can definitely encourage and support each other. 

    Chris- I love new friends. Thank you for commenting and sharing your story. Sounds like you have a true friend, one that loves you enough to give you that little push. Finding an accountability partner is a fantastic idea.