CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE -- by Jane Kelley
"One of life's many lessons . . . ," Megan's dad tells her early in my novel NATURE GIRL.
Megan groans, of course. She doesn't want a lecture. She just wants to avoid being forced to go on a punitive hike in the woods. But she gets Dad's lecture anyway.
"We don't always have control over our situations. But there is one thing we can control––our minds. Even if you can't change your circumstances, you can always change your attitude."
Megan thinks her dad is WRONG. She could easily change her circumstances. All she has to do is go back to the house and flop down on the sofa in front of the TV. But she thinks it's totally impossible for her to even PRETEND to like hiking in the creepy Woods.
Her dad is right, however. She will never move past her unhappiness until she changes her attitude.
This illustration shows Megan's unhappy view of herself. The dots are mosquitoes.
The things we have most control over is our view of our circumstances. If we're able to change that view, we can be happier and more productive.
But how can we change our attitude?
Being a writer gave me a big advantage. I had control over Megan AND her attitude AND her circumstances.
I could shape events to make her go on that hike, be miserable, learn some lessons, and become a better person for that. In the end, I could let her succeed.
Megan's story has resonated with many young readers. I think that's because as I wrote it I was actually shaping my own journey as a writer. I also had to change my attitude. My confidence needed strengthening. In order to help Megan and myself, I included some important things.
1. A goal. Without motivation, it's hard to move forward. Megan knew she was unhappy and wanted to do something about it. She wanted to be reunited with her friend. I wanted this novel to find a publisher.
2. Reasonable challenges that could be accomplished. Megan couldn't cure her friend's mother's cancer. But she could dedicate her hike to that cause. And I could tackle a project that suited my abilities.
3. A Guide. We both benefited from Trail Blaze Betty's wisdom. As she said, "The only way to fail is to quit."
4. The chance to make good choices. Megan must eat some food she doesn't like and be willing to ask for help when she needs it. The same was true for me.
5. The time to reflect upon her experiences. It's hard to learn from our mistakes if we don't take the time to analyze what's going wrong and just as importantly what's going right.