It takes guts to let other people see your deepest fears, to know the things you love, and realize who you really are. Not everything found in the heart is pretty, but inspiration is not always found in perfection. Sometimes it is the broken pieces that people will connect with the most.
- Musings by Jennifer Blair, Artful Blogging Autumn 2012
This is something I’m struggling with, yet again.
I leave the Day Job very soon. I’m excited about that. I’m also terrified, and looking for safety nets. I don’t want to think about having to financially depend on what I can earn from my writing.
There are safety nets, of course. I have money in the bank. I applied for a side job, an easy no-brainer Saturday job that would let me write while at work. I can reapply for my old job if I need to, the person I’ve been job sharing with will be leaving in a year or so. There’s no guarantee I’ll get it, but I’d have a good chance. I use that thought to comfort and ease my fear, my anxiety about truly being a full time writer.
I’m not sure having that safety net is a good thing though. It might just make it too safe. I might coast, thinking I have a year off to play at writing, rather than that I have just one year or so to make or break as a writer so I need to work bloody hard. I might feel so safe and complacent that I’ll end up right back where I am now in eighteen months. So there’s a little voice in my head telling me I’m just wasting my time and my money. All I will have gained is the sure knowledge I couldn’t do it.
It feels like I’m setting myself up for failure, applying for that Saturday job, thinking I can get the twenty hours a week at the Day Job back. Of course, it’s also a way of reassuring the inner critical parent and external real world parents like the mother-in-law. It’s a good story to reassure anxious onlookers, but the reality is that I do have to make a go of this. I just have to. I’m not letting this dream go.
I kinda hope I don’t get that side job. I don’t need safety nets. I just need to write. I am my own side job and my own safety net.
I need to write, and ship (to use a Steve Jobs-ism), not look for safety nets. Real artists ship. Dilettantes can create, but they never ship. Or they ship infrequently, half heartedly, they ship with the preconditions for failure built in like shipping incomplete, rushed, less-than-their-best work.
Oh my, do I know that one. I am the queen of submitting waaaaay too soon.
Or even more so, of jumping from idea to idea to idea. The lure of new stories, far better than the old story. The dropping one project before it’s completed because the next idea is so exciting, repeated repeated repeated. It’s all resistance, a way of avoiding truly finishing a piece of writing and putting it out there, out to be seen and judged.
My exciting new idea this time is a historical. I’m massively enthusiastic about it. It will be a huge, ambitious book, needing loads of research to get right. I am a little concerned that the amount of research needed is a strategy to avoid actually writing a story.
Because if I write, I have to ship; and if I ship, I have to put it out there to be seen; and if it’s seen, everyone will also see how bad I write ; and if everyone sees how bad I write I’ll have no credibility and get laughed at and get one star reviews and I’ll never sell a book again and I’ll have to go back to working as a nurse or I’ll have to live on weeds because we won’t be able to afford anything else and my mother-in-law will say I told you so and I’ll be too embarrassed to ever go on a writing forum again and then I’ll die.
The list seems fairly comprehensive. That’s what my mind truly thinks will happen if I actually self-publish. No wonder I’m never able to properly finish anything!
I need to be okay with uncertainty, not knowing. I need to be willing to risk that self-disclosure, to let myself be seen. I need to be zen, like my cats, being what I am, untroubled by questions. What I am is a writer. Like the quote says, I’m imperfect. Not pretty, complete with broken pieces, but maybe that’s something readers will connect with.
It’s time to take that risk.