One of the age-old questions is this: What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? For me it would be to become a writer.
It’s something that I’ve dreamed about doing for almost as long as I can remember. I have always been a big reader. From a very young age my favorite presents were books and the best days of the year were when the Book Fair came to school- my wish list was always a mile long. My parents encouraged me to read and I became obsessed. So much so that I was in the library almost every day during home-room in sixth and seventh grades (and sometimes at the library after school as well). In eighth grade I started writing.
Little things at first. Fan-fiction stories like the ones that me and my anime-obsessed friends read. I even attempted a short story, although I never got very far into it. High-school brought with it further attempts at writing. I joined role-playing websites that allowed me to write creatively and often so the skill developed further. I took my first creative writing class and learned about poetry and other forms of writing. I started to develop a story in my head…but to this day…I’m still writing it.
All through college I sat there and wrote and rewrote that story. I honed my skill during my Senior Composition course, where instead of writing papers, we wrote historical fiction short stories. It helped me take the next step in this crazy process- I gained confidence. But this story that I’ve been writing for almost ten years now still is in my head and not on paper. I know the beginning, and I know the end, but the details are fuzzy. I replay certain scenes over and over again. Perfecting them. Recording every last detail…
Earlier this year I decided that I wanted to finally finish this story. So, I sat down and read the books that originally inspired me to write. Young adult fiction with strong female leads. But then I was inspired by something else. Hamilton.
My mother will laugh and say “I told you so”- but that’s what mothers do. (The phrase “mother knows best” isn’t a thing for no reason). I have this grand idea in my head of a book inspired by Alexander Hamilton with two more books along the same premise about other historical figures. I’ve bought the research books, wrote out a character outline and began to write the plot. Heck…I have two paragraphs from the prologue written to set it all up…
In a journal.
For what, I have no idea. For some reason, finishing both of these stories- or even really starting this latest one- seems to evade me.
But let’s be honest here. What’s really stopping me is the fear of failure. Not lack of ideas. Who on earth would want to read either of them? I don’t have a degree in English or creative writing. I have a degree in History and Military Science. What qualifies me to be a writer? I’ve read blog posts, Pinterest lists, professional development books all trying to figure out my next step. And maybe this is it. Maybe writing blog posts every few days to help me get in the mindset is the next step. Because tonight after this I plan on continuing my research to figure out more about my plot.
But here’s the next part in this fear of failure. What do I do with these posts I plan to write? I love blogs, they hold all sorts of precious gems of knowledge and enlightenment. But if I start a blog…what would I write about? I’m not an expert on anything. I’m quite average really.
I love to cook. But I’m not a professional chef.
My passion is history. But there are so many people who are more qualified than I am to write about it.
I’m not a mom (yet!). So there goes the idea of a mommy blog.
I’m a hot mess of a twenty-something. Self help is definitely not my area of expertise.
Who would read a hodge-podge of posts about whatever I feel like writing about? I mean really, if I were to write a blog I would contain everything from recipes to my thoughts on women’s fashion in the sixteenth century. Your blog, just like any story, should have a point. A purpose. What would my purpose be? What would my audience be?
But there it is again…the fear of failure.
My mind fills with “what ifs” and “I’m not good enough” that comes with the fear of failure and it becomes overwhelming. You hear all the time about the success stories. Their books become best sellers and their blogs generate public interest and extra money for their families. So…what qualifies me to join their ranks as a writer?
The fact that I have been writing for almost two hours developing this little idea into a coherent thought.
The fact that I’m willing to face the criticism and even risk the chance at failure is what makes me good enough to become a writer. Taking that first step and pushing back the fear and squashing that nagging voice inside my head that says “what if” is what makes me good enough.
Of course, writing this and posting this for the world to see are two completely different things. I’m writing this today, on a Thursday evening, but who knows when this will go public. I’ll probably send it to my husband to read (hi baby!) and then sit on it for a while. I don’t have a website, but I have my first post. It’s a step in the right direction.
So…if you’re reading this and you’re not in my immediate family…I did it. I stepped out of my comfort zone, fought against every fiber of my being, and exposed my inner thoughts to the world. I conquered my fear of failure. Will you?