I have been an avid reader and writer since I was a child of less than ten years old. I remember writing poems and stories, and I began my first journal at the age of nine. One day I thought I might grow up to be a great author.
Now, current day, halfway through my 41st journal, I’m not sure I even know what that means. What does being a great author really entail? Who decides if or when you are? Do those of us who write ever feel like we have finally arrived? Will it only be when I’m published? Make the New York Times bestseller list? Have a dozen books in print? Sold copies in ten languages?
Does that make those of us who write for pleasure less accomplished? Or even just less, period? I haven’t been published, I have no bestsellers under my belt, or even a book on my library shelf with my name on the spine.
According to Julia Cameron in The Right to Write, the very act of writing makes one a writer.
In that sense, I am a writer. And putting my writing out there is scary. Being an introvert, I’m usually pretty content with my own company. I tend to have a “live and let live” outlook, while trying to balance that with a bent toward teaching. I am hesitant to tell you how to live your life, yet feel like positive debate, constructive criticism, and hands-on mentoring are critical to individual growth.
When it comes time then, to put my work out there, I cringe. After writing pretty much my whole life, up to date, I question whether I have anything to say. What makes me think I have anything to offer that anyone wants to read? Who cares what I’ve been thinking about?
My permanent roommate has been encouraging me to go public, to start a blog, to submit my writing to be published. Last summer, I did just that, knowing it was a shot in the dark, a statistical near-guarantee of never being noticed. I sent off my manuscripts for a children’s book series with the expected results: nothing. Not even a rejection letter because publishers are so swamped with hopefuls that they never even get around to reading all the submissions, let alone actually responding to the individuals who sent them.
The gesture was more for me, because it was a hurdle I had to get past. A challenge to myself. While I didn’t expect to hear anything back from the publishing house, it was certain I never would as long as the manuscripts were sitting in my files, never seeing the light of day.
Starting this blog was another obstacle to cross. It requires facing my fear every time I hit that “publish” button. Fear of rejection, fear of appearing stupid or ignorant or uniformed. Even fear of typos.
Then, almost immediately, within days of beginning my blog, my computer crashed. I was able to save most of my “important stuff”, but the restoration project took most of a week, and entailed enormous amounts of frustration on my part and a redo back to factory settings for the laptop.
Way to feel opposed in my writing journey. The negative message here is: “Stick your neck out, and get it chopped off.” The positive one is: “Down, but not defeated.” Now would be the time to remember the phoenix rising from the ashes. To channel that hope I wrote about in my “Super Heroes” blog.
Because the question here for me now, is not so much what I have to say; there are many people out there wiser than I, and I don’t pretend to talk about anything new. The question is whether or not I will pursue a dream, utilize my gifts, take a risk, and do something I love in spite of the opposition. Will it keep me down, silence my voice, or will I embrace that risk and stick my neck out?
Whether your passion is writing or becoming the world’s next great chef or brewing bacon flavored beer or managing your local tire store, don’t let the haters stop you. Don’t let the disapprovers shut you down. Keep jumping the hurdles because the world needs what you have to offer.
And you need to push past the fear of letting your true self show.
So put yourself out there. Dare to be great, or at least be. Do what you do, to the best of your ability, and like Morpheus suggests in the Matrix, let’s see “how deep this rabbit hole goes.”