One of my greatest fears is unfulfilled potential. I am never sure if I’m doing all that I can to be successful, and even my perception of success is sometimes uncertain. As a writer, I hope to publish professionally someday, and benefit from the joy that my passion in writing provides. But recently I’ve been feeling unmotivated and completely unsure of what career path I want to take.
Being a literary fanatic, I’m subscribed to various news sites and writer’s magazines (including Writer’s Digest, Press 53, Fierce Reads, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times). Honestly speaking though, I usually delete all my email notifications from these sites and never find the time to actually read the articles I’ve subscribed to. However, an interesting caption caught my eye the other day as I was going through my inbox. It was a notification from Writer’s Digest with this week’s edition of Monday Motivation. The caption read: How I Stopped Sabotaging My Goals. I didn’t know what it would be about, but it immediately spiked my interest.
Turns out, it was an article written by author Andrea Jarrell about her early aspirations as a writer and how she came to publish after years of neglecting her passion for writing. Now, I’m aware that I’m not part of the “50+ year-olds who still want to publish” demographic, but I can’t say enough how close to home that article hit.
When Jarrell admitted that “[she] had been blessed with a bit of talent…[and] had been treading water in that same little puddle of talent all [her] life, and when teachers or bosses or circumstances indicated [her] ambitions would take a lot more than innate talent [she] found some other path where the people would praise [her] and say ‘good job,'” I could not relate to that feeling more closely. She also states that her “fear of rejection, fear of failure, [and] fear of being told [she] didn’t have talent” was what led her to stray away from writing.
For anyone really (but especially writers), the fear of rejection and always having to work harder is completely valid. Often times, it’s hard for me to overcome these emotions because (1) I’m scared that despite all the people who say I’m a good writer, there will come a time when somebody makes me realize that I’m not the writer I thought I was and (2) that people may not even be willing to hear my story. I have so many friends and peers who share their work with me and ask for my opinion or feedback. I willingly do it because they are my friends and also because I enjoy the satisfaction of fixing other people’s errors; but it’s been a long time since I asked someone else to return the favor. Most of my acquaintances don’t have the same knack for editing and revising that I do, but more often than not the reason I keep my writing private is because I fear that one person will actually give me solid criticism.
In a way, I also fear that people will judge who I am based off my ability to write and my style of writing. There are several instances where I have refused to share my writing with a guy because I think he will think my writing is too cheesy because the main character is a female. Other times I will shield my friends from my work because I think my humor is too dark or because my concepts might be offensive.
Upon reading Jarrell’s article, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t let these fears serve as obstacles. There is a segment of Jarrell’s piece that really resonates with where I’m at now in my writing career, and I’d like to share it:
“Writing books is all I ever wanted to do. Yet, for many years, I wore my writing dream like a costume—acting the part but never really committing to the work. Throughout my childhood, teens and 20s, I might have looked like someone working for her dream: sending earnest poems to teen magazines and entering contests, majoring in the right subjects, founding student publications, and working in New York City publishing jobs.
Sometimes a glimmer of the dream would start to come true: winning the Rotary Creative Writing Contest in junior high, getting into selective writing workshops, getting my first byline in a national magazine. But instead of these little wins driving me towards my dream, they often caused me to back away and to talk about the dream more than to go after it.“
After reading this, I can’t believe I’ve been holding back. Now, more than ever, I want to (and need to) put my work out in the world. I know its premature to actually consider publishing my work with an agent or whatever, but there is no time better than the present for self publication. If anything, I hope this decision pushes me one step further in my writing career, and maybe even towards goals I never even dreamt of.
Regardless, I started this website with one intention: to share my stories. And that, I will.
If you would like to make a recommendation for my first creative piece to be shared, please email/comment. One of the categories will do.