The protagonist of this book, Ruby Josen, has a problem. She’s worn out of the same old job she’s had for the past eleven years, but she lives in a small town where opportunities are limited. Her family is gone, there is no potential for romantic relationships, few advancement opportunities, and her only friend is her sometimes outlandish/sometimes reclusive next door neighbor. When she’s turned down for the only job promotion available, she slides into despair.
I already hear the one question you asked about halfway through that paragraph: why is Ruby staying in a dead end life in a dead end town with no prospects? It seems obvious that she has no life left there. Ah yes, but that’s the thing, and in the way of an answer, let me turn the question back on you: how willing are you to not only embrace change, but pursue it? I don’t mean things like a new haircut or a new car, things that seem like big decisions until you settle in and see the change was nothing but a drag-and-drop from there to here. I mean huge, life altering changes that take an anvil to everything you know and leave you with a zillion little pieces to pick up and put together into a brand new life that you no longer recognize?
I think you get my point – Ruby’s quandary isn’t unique. It is, in fact, more common than we realize, because people don’t know how comfortable they are in the stagnation of their life ruts until they’re ripped from them and put on unfamiliar ground. They may hate it. There may be things about their life that they absolutely detest and would be willing to anything to change – to a point. And that’s exactly the thing that Ruby faces when she crosses paths with a mysterious stranger that promises that he can take these things away if only she asks, and asks for nothing in return. She faces the question that so many of us face when life gets stale and we feel restless with what is and apprehensive of what could be if only we got up and made a move – which is worse; the devil you know, or the devil you don’t?
Ruby finds out that the devil she knows has sides she’s never seen when the wish granting has catastrophic consequences. Her rut is starting to cave in on her. She realizes that if she spent as much energy taking a chance on a new life as she did clinging to her old one, then things could be a lot better. She learns that change is the path to a better life. She discovers that standing up to the dragon of fear is less fatal than running from it, because you can’t outrun that fire. You have to steal it’s thunder and make it work for you. That’s the only way to win.
I believe that fear controls people more than anything else. It’s basic psychology that all human beings are motivated by one of two things – rewards or consequences – and it seems that people spend more time running from consequences than working towards rewards. We have it all backwards, and it’s a shame, because you can’t build a good life if you’re too busy running from things to lay a foundation for it.
I have first hand experience with major, life altering change. My job was transferred to a different department and let me tell you, a job change IS a life change. I’ve discussed the many facets of this adventure in this blog many times and won’t bore you with a recap, but I will tell you that it was a tough journey. More than a few people thought I absolutely lost my mind for supporting this move. They thought that I, like Ruby, should fight the battle until it ended in blood or a blaze of glory, but I knew it was useless and shortsighted. I and the others working with me saw great potential and benefits now and in the future. Of course, it was harder than I expected. There were times when I wondered if I made a terrible mistake, or if I was a fool to not put up a fight. It isn’t always easy to take the long view and keep the end goal in mind when right now is being a pain in your butt, but it was well worth it. I wouldn’t go back. In fact, it’s a shame this wasn’t done sooner.
You learn during these times, about yourself and others, and one thing that struck me was how scared people are of change. Most people won’t pursue change. They’ll accept it if it’s imposed on them, as I did, but they won’t actively pursue it “just because.” Change is a lot of hard work, and usually three times more than you see from the beginning (I can attest to that too!). Change has a chance of failure – it might not work out the way you expected, or things might be worse. Then again, failure isn’t fatal. But I think the scariest thing is the one that we hesitate to admit to ourselves: change forces us to become a different person, and we don’t know who that person will be. I can say that I’m not the same person I was four years ago, but I feel better about the person I am. This is a theme I deal with in the sequel to Move that I’m working on now – stay tuned for Obsidian in late 2014 to see how all of this has changed, well, everything!
No, Ruby’s dilemma isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, I believe all of us could see a bit of ourselves in her. Stagnation and change are uncomfortable things to work with, and like all beasts, they have a way of spring up when you least expect it.
Feel free to drop in on the blog stops for Move through July 21, and be sure to pick up your own copy. It’s on sale for $1.50 at Smashwords in all ebook formats through August 1 with coupon code WW75A, so add another summer read to your ereader app. If you don’t do Smashwords, it’s available for $2.99 through Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well. And, of course, if you like it, review it! There. That’s my humble, indie-author groveling for feedback.
That’s all today. Take care and enjoy the rest of your week.