Friday, March 03, 2006

Leap of Faith

So, I'm sitting and my computer messing around with the websites I maintain when I realize its Thursday night. Time to post my blog. Oh wait...haven't written it yet. Ok, so here I am, thin mint cookie in one hand, desperate gestures being made with the other.

You'll have to forgive me for being a little distracted. I had both a very good and very bad week. My day job is about to change - thank goodness. I'm about to depart on a new career path that will hopefully prove to have the growth potential I'm after with the flexibility and low stress environment I strive for. Will I get it? Probably not, but I'll take what I can get at this point. My current situation is, well, less than desirable for several reasons I won't delve into here. It is uncomfortable enough that I am willing to depart from the career I've been in since college, have my master's degree, in which I have become very comfortable and honestly, pretty darn good at. But, I'm going to make the leap, take the chance, although it scares the bejezus out of me. Sometimes you've just got to do it. Its the only way you can move forward.

I think writing is like this in a lot of ways. You start out piddling around on a story at home. You squirrel away time to work on it here and there. You might not even tell anyone you're doing it. You're embarassed about it. Then you take that leap. When someone asks you about a hobby, maybe, you say..."I'm a writer." BIG STEP! You've said it out loud and now you can't take it back. And hopefully, unless the person you're talking to is an (expletive deleted), they have not laughed at you or mocked your dream, but perhaps asked what kind of things you write and showed genuine interest.

So now your writing isn't a secret anymore. You're still working on it, maybe even close to finishing and you think perhaps letting someone read it might be a good idea to get you some feedback. You hand it over to your mother/sister/best friend/next door neighbor. BIG STEP! They read it without vomiting on their shoes and return it to you with hopefully some feedback you can work with - be it good or bad.

You've finished, dusted it off and think maybe you're ready for your first contest. You make seventeen copies, clip - don't staple, include the cover sheet and mail it off to the RWA chapter holding the contest. BIG STEP! Once it leaves your hands there will be lots of people reading it - people who, unlike your mother/sister/best friend/next door neighbor - might actually know something about writing and the romance genre.

You get the results back - maybe you won or placed, maybe not - and you work in the comments you felt make your manuscript stronger. You do a little research and send off your book into the publishing world (by query or partial of course...we all know how editors hate unrequested fulls hitting their desks). BIG STEP! Good, bad or indifferent, you're not only a self-proclaimed writer, but you're one step closer to being a published author!

All of these steps require a major leap of faith. Not just faith in general, but faith in yourself - something that is very often harder to come by than you might think. Sometimes this leap requires the assistance of a pushy friend that shoves you off the ledge. Don't be angry with them. At the worst, you'll scrape your knees, at best, you might find out it isn't that bad. You've overcome the fear.

I was once told that if thinking about your goals doesn't make you sick to your stomach, they aren't the right goals. What's the biggest leap of faith you've ever taken with your writing? Were you sick to your stomach? Is there a leap you haven't been able to make yourself take, and if so, can we give you that needed push?



Playground Monitor said...

I posted the first chapter of my first ever attempt at a novel on an email loop that had several published authors as members. It felt like standing on a busy street corner buck naked. But surprisingly, the comments were favorable overall. They gave constructive criticism and also pointed out what was good. It's still hard to send stuff off though and it still amazes me when someone says "Hey, this is good."

I mailed off that non-fiction piece to New York this afternoon. Now I wait. Plus I'm still waiting on the two fiction pieces I sent them last month.

Waiting ain't fun. *g*

P.S. Good luck with your new job. You'll be great at it. You're great at whatever you do.

Anonymous said...

I envy you, SP! Your about to begin a great adventure. That's how I like to look at things. Growing up, my Dad's tour of duty took us all over the world, then I 'married the Army' and continued my adventures. I miss those days of travel, meeting new people, not knowing what I would be doing or where I would be living. I looked forward to setting up house, learning how to get around, but most of all meeting and making new friends.

Your off on a wild adventure, SP! Don your safari clothes and walk into the jungle ready to explore. Who of us knows where the cleared path will lead? But unless we clear it, none can follow.

Isn't that the essence of writing? A writer clears a pathway of knowledge, adventure, romance, companionship, compassion, and truth, giving the reader enlightenment or at least a satisfied glimpse into the world as it is, as we wish it to be or as it could be.

I'm so proud of Instigator, PC, and Angel for finaling in the Linda Howard Contest! They took the leap that I've hesitated to take. And the writingplayground and the example set by the play friends encourages me and everyone like me to take that plunge.


Problem Child said...

I think the step that scared me the most was also the one that mattered most... actually querying an editor.

But Maven Beverly had been on my back for so long to get the thing finished; once I did, she nagged me (in her own Beverly way) to send it out.

It made me sick to my stomach, but it also earned me a PRO pin.

But looking back, all the things that were such BIG STEPS at the time, now seem like baby steps. Not that they weren't important--heaven knows they were--but now that the scary fright has worn off, I see the worst that could have happened was a "no, thanks," or "gee, you should work on your craft a bit more."

If there's anyone out there hesitating to take that BIG STEP--just do it. The first step is the hardest.


(needless to say, I'm indebted to Maven Beverly for her non-too-gentle shove in the right direction. )