As many of you know by now, I’ve decided to take the next three years off to focus on fiction. By remortgaging my house and putting my successful freelance career on hold, I’ll finally be able to chase my dream of being a full-time novelist.
When I first came up with this plan, I figured a lot of the people closest to me would think I was crazy, or at least would strongly urge me against it. Happily, the opposite was true–everyone, from young friends to older, cheered me on without hesitation.
“Life is short.” I heard it over and over again, which is appropriate, because that sentiment–and the untimely loss of a dear friend to breast cancer this spring–has a lot to do with me throwing caution to the wind next March.
Here on the blog, people were supportive as well. I’ve been overwhelmed by your kindness and encouragement. So I stopped thinking people would find this idea insane and instead expected a ringing endorsement–or at least a muttered, “Good for you.”
At the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I attended a workshop on rejection and resilience, figuring I’d need all the help I could get for the years ahead. The instructor asked us to share what brought us to the workshop, along with our worst rejection story. When I burbled out my plans, excited and enthusiastic, she looked like I’d slapped her. Her face fell. The room was silent.
Something similar happened that day at lunch, when I confided my plans to a very nice literary agent–only he was more vocal about his feelings.
“Oh no! That’s like quitting your day job,” he said. “In good conscience, I can’t encourage you to do that.”
When I got up from the table, the instructor from the workshop was waiting. With a soft, wavering voice, she confessed she was very afraid for me. She seemed relieved when I told her about my previous success and the contracts I have in progress, etc. But her fear clung to me like a pesky dryer sheet.
This woman was a poet laureate. The agent was from a well-established NYC literary agency. These are people who know. They’ve lived the life. They understand the risks.
I was supremely confident when I responded to their concerns. But as soon as the conference was over, I wanted to sneak up to my hotel room and hide under the bed. What if they’re right? What if I fail? What if, in year two, I’m looking at the want ads and scouting out beige cubicles? What if, what if, what if.
After I stopped panicking, I realized something. Those well-meaning, kind people may know the industry. They have their own experiences to share, and those experiences are extremely valuable.
But they don’t know me.
They don’t know my work ethic, my determination, my well laid-out plans and my multi-pronged approach. They don’t know about the wealth of knowledge that surrounds me, knowledge from writers like you–people who have already succeeded in this crazy industry.
Can a bit of talent and a lot of hard work, research, assistance, persistence and know-how guarantee my plans will be a success?
No…but it’s certainly worth a shot.
Has someone ever made you doubt (however briefly) your writing dreams? If so, how did you overcome it? I apologize for STILL being behind on returning comments and visiting blogs, due to the conference and other commitments. I promise to catch up this week.
PS – This month’s podcast is all about NaNoWriMo survival tips–some of you might find it handy. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo and would like to add me as a buddy, I’m KickboxingWriter.
The purpose of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. To see a full list of IWSG authors, click here.