by Amy Atwell (originally published April 8, 2008 on my former blog)

I’ve never been much into self-help books.  I’m a believer that you make your own way in this world.  The notion of envisioning your future–putting it out there and it will happen–well, that’s a little hokey for me.

But I’m beginning to rethink things.

One of my goals loop mates, Ms. J.M. Sabel, had a great sig line from Goethe:  “At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.”  I read that quote about nine months ago, when I was down and grieving over a loss in our family.  I wanted to commit to writing, but I didn’t see any way possible to do it at the time.  I wanted the universe to help me.  I printed that quote and posted it at the bottom of my computer screen.

And I waited.

I’d sit down at the computer to work, and the phone would ring.  An interruption.  I’d plan a writing day and get called into work instead.  Another interruption.  Before I knew it, fall and the winter holidays were upon me.  Why had the universe abandoned me?

Somewhere in there, I managed to send off a few contest entries in the late fall.  I sent off a few more during the winter.  I took an online class called “Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors.”  I wanted to beat whatever it was that was keeping me from writing.

The universe still threw curves at me.  Family illness, leave of absence from work, potential move to another state…  What was I doing wrong?  I thought I was committed to writing, but I was barely making any page count.

Without realizing it, the tide turned.  One CP and I made the simple commitment to write 100 words per day.  A small, manageable goal.  Something we could be successful with.  We worked through the online class together.  I continued to critique for other CPs.  I continued to run my goals loops.  I wrote my 100 words per day.   By the end of February I realized I was actually working on revising manuscripts I thought I’d buried.  I was writing a new story.  I was having FUN writing again.

And then the calls came.  I finaled in a contest.  I finaled in another contest–twice.  Before I knew it, seven of my first nine contest entries had made the finals.  Suddenly, I had three manuscripts headed out to editors for final judging.  One has already made a request.  Then karma really put the cherry on it:  I was named a finalist in the 2008 Golden Heart® Contest sponsored by Romance Writers of America®.  I’ve been entering this contest since 2003, and now, here was the accolade I’d been seeking–five preliminary round judges had all agreed my story was good.

Two of my annual goals for 2008 were 1) to support my fellow writers by building a positive GIAM (goals loop) community, and 2) continue to work with my critique partners.  In both cases, my purpose was to help other writers along.  But that’s all part of the karma.  Help others, and the help comes back to you.  In a highly competitive environment, it’s easy to lose sight of helping others.  We all want what little is out there for ourselves.  But sharing is important.  Encouraging others is important.  Recognizing and promoting talent is important.  Even when it’s not your own.

Tonight I realized the universe has conspired to assist me.  There was some lag time, but then, the universe is big, and I’m one little person.  It’s important to note the universe didn’t just take care of things, it assisted me.  First, I had to take the steps to help myself.