There was a time, in the not so distant past, when I feared the results of my writing so much that I failed to see the possibilities that could result instead.
I feared not having enough to say. What I said not being said right or well. Having what I said hurt, impale, embarrass, traumatize or insight psychosis because of the stories I shared that people in my life also starred in (without their giving me consent to make them characters).
Worse than any of these: I feared having what I wrote land on certain people's ears as an open invitation to please create another Facebook account with some other variation of their name so they could write to me. Again. For the umpteenth time. Since we broke up umpteen years ago. For those people on the other end of the spectrum, I feared being sued. Or receiving hate mail or black mail.
From my parents, I feared abandonment, disappointment, or shunning. "We don't know her. We don't have a middle child." (Okay, they would never abandon me. But you get the point.)
Fear can create all kinds of exaggerated possibilities in your imagination. And mine is already overactive to begin with.
I feared writing under my own name for all the fears previously listed. And I equally feared not writing under my own name because of what it might do to my own self-identity and security, both of which I've nearly lost before. On more than one occasion, I feared that even if I 'did it,' even if I wrote, there wouldn't be anyone to write for except friends and family. You know, the people who had always either expected it and were waiting for it, or were waiting for it but secretly hoping it may never happen. (See the above on real-people-turned-into-characters, ex-boyfriends, parents who are worried, and general haters.)
I feared I would never convince an agent of my worth or that my writing wouldn't be good enough to land one. I feared I would have to self-publish at the outset, before traditionally publishing anything, and that this would somehow damage my credibility. And without credibility, what possibilities would there be for me as a writer? I know this is an elitist and snobbish POV but even you cannot deny the reality that anyone can publish their book and call themselves a writer. And those people - the ones who don't know enough of the rules but break them; don't proofread or edit; don't check their facts; etc. - ruin it for the rest of us.
I feared I'd have just spent most of my life dreaming of being only one thing and failing at it at every turn. Possibilities = shattered.
The thing about doing something you feel meant to do is that the feeling never goes away. It's like a continuous buzzing. Or a hum. A never-ending whisper. You can't just tell it to shut the fuck up and leave you alone. It's persistent and prevailing.
And so even with all those fears, I knew there was no turning my back on writing. Writing remained the one thing I wanted to do. Felt called to do. Needed to do.
Finally, I got sick of the image of failing. I got sick of the hiding. The sitting in the margins of my own story. The being afraid.
And the delusions of writing possibilities emerged. Somehow I came to realize I was being stupid.
Why was I stupid? There are two main reasons.
I've never really failed at anything.
(Exception: relationships. I fail in a big way. No one could fail with the dramatic effect that I have over my lifetime. One could argue that these have been successful fails because they've created an enormous amount of terrific writing content for which there will be a book.)
I've been successful and motivated in a variety of other things. I should never have gotten into a Psy.D. program for psychology based on my test scores alone, but I got accepted because of every other part of my application and because of how I came across in the live interview. So even though I was told to my face that I was the least likely candidate to be accepted because of those fucking scores, I got in regardless. Ultimately, I didn't go to that program and I eventually switched my masters concentration all together. Since grad school, I've had different types of jobs in different industries and even when I have hated some of them, I was damn good at them anyway. (That's known as 'fake it til you make it'. Or 'make it look good.' Take your pick. It's fine to choose both.)
People have been waiting for me to blaze ahead and light my own path.
Now I know I gave some people some shit earlier about not wanting to be characters in my book or about embarrassing my parents. But. There are probably just as many people in my life who would think it really fucking cool to be in my book as those who don't want to be in it and hate every part of it.
My parents might be shitting bricks about what I may write, but I also know that when I get to the other side and I've chartered my own destiny, they're going to be proud as fuck. (I can tell they are fans and supporters of my mom blogging.) And when I think about all the other people who ask me how my writing is coming, or how many people have 'liked' the occasional Facebook status about my writing, I realize that people have just been waiting. People already know I'm capable. People already want to read what I have to say. I've had fans this whole time.
I can finally see the possibilities. Why didn't I see these things before? Fear is a fucker I guess.
Don’t worry though. I’ve dealt with him. He's in a serious time out and Hope and Possibility are in the driver seat. Fear is tied up in their trunk with thick rope and a gag shoved in his filthy mouth.
(Ah, you’re saying. This must be where the delusions come in. She’s personified Fear, Hope and Possibility. Yes, my readers. I have. Isn’t it great?)
Hope and Possibility are my cheerleaders. They've got me all jazzed about what success can mean. Possibility has listed heaps of things for me to consider that could be waiting for me on the other side.
So here are the
ABCs of Oh, the Possibilities When you Dream Big (and are slightly delusional)
A. A book
B. A book that people like and more than just my family and friends read
C. A book that wins some kind of notable award
D. A book that gets turned into a movie
E. A book that gets turned into a movie and now my agent wants me to do The Ellen Show
F. A book-turned movie that gets nominated for an award
G. A book-turned movie is nominated for an award and I'm invited to attend
H. I'm invited to attend and I get to rub elbows with celebs who play me, my family and friends, and all those haters on the big screen
I. I attend the after-party and have an amazing time
J. I come back home with autographed shit to give my favorite fans (aka my family and friends)
K. The book and movie make so much I can pay off student loans and start paying rent
L. I make so much money I can pay off student loans, start paying rent, and set some money aside to take my kiddo to Disney World when he's old enough
M. I can quit my day job
(Stay with me me! We're half way there!)
N. There's so much money! I buy my dream house, pay off other people's loans, and take the whole family to Disney
O. See N but I also can help people in my life who are in need
P. The book becomes a franchise - think t-shirts, bumper stickers, board games, key chains, magnets, TV show spin-offs, phone apps and more
Q. I can hire people to manage my social media
R. I have an agent dedicated to only me
S. I'm killing it out there so I only have to write half the time
T. The other half the time I can dedicate myself to a cause I care about
U. I start a second book
V. The madness starts all over again
W. Life is so damn good because I'm doing what I love
X. Nothing is holding me back, or down, or off
Y. I've created an empire for myself
Z. I'm the queen. I rule my land and I fucking live happily ever after as I always intended to from the beginning. Just me and my pen.