Writers Are Crash Test Dummies
On the hutch above my desk at work, I have a collection of quotes printed out in fun fonts that I keep taped up there to remind me of important stuff. A few of them I remember who said them.
A few I just heard in conversation or on the internet somewhere and thought, Well, that’s awesome, I should write it down.
They all speak to me on varying levels, and I have a tendency to zero in on the one that’s most comforting in a given situation.
One of my all time favorites is this one from J. K. Rowling:
It is a totally natural, totally human thing to fear failure. Everybody does to some extent.
Nobody wants to try something and fall flat on their face. But guess what? You’ve all already done it. A lot. Every single person on the planet has. Because in the course of learning to walk as a toddler, you fell. And then you got back up and tried again (probably after some tears and mommy cuddles). You are walking around today because as a toddler, you didn’t give up, give in, and let your failure beat you.
I’m an adventurous sort of person. Not in a bungee jumping or skydiving kinda way, but in the sense that I am not usually afraid to try new things.
- Food (so many fascinating flavors!)
- Exercise programs (what have I got to lose but pounds?)
- Home improvement projects (I love me some power tools!)
- Minor auto repairs (not so much on my current car, but I changed out the radiator fan on my Grand Cherokee 3 times during its lifetime)
- Self publishing (my great adventure)
Am I a little nervous about some of these things? Sure.
Am I actually afraid? Sometimes.
But here’s the thing: If there’s no fear, then there’s probably no pay off either.
Life is full of failures. But we are defined by what we do with those failures.
Let’s face it. Publishing (traditional and self) is a brutal world. There’s so much negativity and stress. There are so many points where you can fail, where people can say “you suck”. Critique groups. Agents. Editors. Reviewers. Readers. Publishing is not a career for the faint of heart or the thin-skinned.
Authors ARE NOT WUSSIES! They can’t afford to be.
So what do you do if you have that dream? If you imagine seeing your books in your local bookshop or your name on the New York Times Best Seller List but the process leaves your knees knocking with dread?
You can let yourself be ruled by the fear. Curl up in a corner, in the dark, and envy those who have more luck (or more likely, more guts) than you, and spend the rest of your life patting yourself on the back, congratulating yourself for never taking that risk, and never having to deal with the disappointment of rejection letters or bad reviews. But you will have to live with the disappointment I guarantee you’ll feel in yourself.
The other option is to go for it.
Hit some speed bumps, some road blocks. Heck, be a freaking crash test dummy, pounding into those walls of rejection and negativity time after time.
So long as every time you can pick yourself up, dust your butt off, and keep going. Imagine every single failure as another scale in your armor. By the time you get there, you’ll be suited up for full metal jousting.
There’s a term for the people who do this no matter what. It’s called “published”.
What are you waiting for?