You have to believe in yourself

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Creative work is never easy. Writing in particular is very isolated and frankly can get lonely. Hence the need to pester friends, family and sometimes complete strangers into reading your work – or work in progress.

Writing a book is a big endeavor – whether it takes you two months or two years to write it, you still put in the time. Usually hundreds of hours. Many of those hours are spent researching and then agonizing over word choices, character arcs, plot lines, themes, and the message. Often times you have no idea why you are so compelled to write the story. Why it is so important to you. But it is. It definitely is.

And when you finish, there is usually no one there to tell. So, you pour another cup of coffee and then drop off your dry cleaning or go grocery shopping.

There are always people along the way who help. Who offer support and encouragement. And God bless them because without them, a lot of writers might at this minute, be wandering through public parks mumbling to themselves about plot twists and causing strangers to hold their children close to them.

But here’s the thing. No matter how much your friends and family may say they understand, they don’t. They can’t wrap their wits around how important this thing, this book is to you. How much you care and the devotion you have put into it. Think about it, it would take the average person 8-10 hours to read what it’s taken you months, perhaps even years to write. Gives one pause, doesn’t it?

So when you are a nervous wreck while waiting for your file conversion, or lining up a photographer, a book cover designer or hovering your cursor over the publish button your friends and family are:

  • Wondering what to make for dinner
  • Worried about how much their kid’s braces will cost
  • Scraping up the money to fix the car
  • Trying to figure out why their lawn isn’t green enough
  • Or – fill in the blank

They most definitely aren’t thinking about your book or your launch into self publishing. Some may even think you’re just enjoying a hobby.

So this is your life. The one you chose. And you can’t look to or expect others to carry the weight for you. To buoy you up when you’re dropping like a stone to the bottom. To give you a pep talk when you’re wallowing in doubts. You have to believe in yourself because:

  • No one but you truly understands what it means to you
  • Everybody else has their own life and worries
  • They’ll be plenty more (and worse) storms to weather ahead
  • If what you’re doing matters to you, what other people think shouldn’t matter
  • If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will

In the words of the incomparable Chuck Wendig, “Art hard, motherfucker.” And that ain’t no lie.

But maybe, just maybe, you’ll make it. And afterwards, everyone who knows you will say they knew you could do it. And for the briefest of moments you can bask in the self-confidence that you rarely have a grasp on.

 

Face Value

I was wondering yesterday if we just take things too much at face value, you know? The current pre-election frenzy seems like a good example. We all want change (or at least those of us who do) so we gravitate to Obama. We want experience so we gravitate to Hillary (presumedly). We all want wisdom, so we gravitate toward McCain. Well, maybe that isn’t quite a good example but you get my point.

It seems many of us are guilty of not really looking too much below the surface. In way, I suppose that’s good, lest we see something we don’t like. Or maybe we are just too trusting and long to give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s possible.

Then there are the other types of face value. For example, you look around at your life and you see mountains of debt, worries and trouble and think this is your lot in life. You know that today will be repeated tomorrow and the tomorrow after that. You know this because yesterday was the same as today. But is it really? Are we really in such little control of our lives and the destiny of our futures?

I’ve been wondering a lot about this lately. I’ve been wondering what would happen if I just decided that I don’t buy that any more. You know? In fact, I took a bit of a leap of faith not that long ago. I had a job that for whatever reason was toxic to me. Literally making me ill and I honestly thought I’d end up with some horrible malady if I stayed on. I’m not really blaming anyone for this – things like this happen and really it was my own problem. So, my solution was to quit. I had some money put aside and felt I could just take some time off and cool down, chill out and figure out what to do next.

But a funny thing happened – I never got another job. I meant to. I intended to. And yet, in the end I didn’t. And sometimes I think about this and think, ‘jeez you are frickin loony tunes for doing this.’ I think that I ought to be scared and worried and feel all twisted up inside. Yet, I don’t. Yet, somehow I know that everything will be alright. I know that everything I need will somehow come to me – whether it be money, work, friends, food, whatever – somehow it will come my way.

How on earth could I feel this way? There are no visible signs in the universe that this makes any sense or that I am likely to survive with such a plan. Yet I have. My days are no longer filled with stress or worry, nor office politics. They are filled with educating myself, looking for new opportunities, writing, pursuing agents and publishers and so on. In short, I am actually finally pursuing my life, as I want it to be.

This is not to say that I don’t sometimes get worried or concerned. I do. I’m human, in a way it is our job to be worried and have dramas. Yet whenever I do, there is something inside me that says I’m doing the right thing, I’m going about this correctly. That I have good reason to believe in myself and my goals. And what’s more, that my goals are worthy and by being so they will sustain me somehow – they will bring to me whatever luck and serendipity that I need.

So, I’ve stopped accepting things at face value. I’ve looked deeply into my soul and found out what and who I am and I’m basically betting the ranch on it. I think at the very least, it will be quite the adventure.

WC