No matter what you may hear or have come to believe, the time for feelings of great triumph and enthusiasm has not come and gone.
Oh, the mistakes we make!
One of the greatest things about being a well-seasoned 40-something, is the mistakes I’ve made throughout adulthood. You read it right, I’m grateful for mistakes.
I fully accept that I’m a flawed creation. Always have been, always will be. I could list my flaws, but then you would all be scared away, never to return. I dare say, however, my list would be much the same as yours. If you doubt it, drop me an email and we can begin comparing our lists.
In The World According to Me (Alan), every person has a healthy list of issues, problems, areas of concern. For those that don’t accept that maxim, well, the rest of us can give you least one item with which you can begin your list.
This post isn’t about our mistakes and misgivings, but it is necessary to travel through them and admit them in order to arrive at the destination. The destination being that I’m now an expert at the things I’ve overcome, and the things I’m overcoming. Again, so are you.
Here, at the outset of a new year, much of my free “thinking” and planning time has focused on writing and where I’m taking it. It’s important to me. As with last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the decade before that, my great enthusiasm has been hampered by the evil of negative thoughts. HUGE mistake. As I’ve come to realize, the thoughts we think become the things that happen.
For instance, I’ve seen some small measure of writing success. I’ve published articles online and a couple in print. I established a bit of a name for myself in a small section of one subject area. That’s great. The thing is, that’s several notches below where I wanted to be at the outset. Several years ago, I started writing a book, because I was compelled to do it and believed I could. Keep in mind, I said “started,” not “completed.”
At the time, the only accepted method for publishing a real-live book and have a shot at success was through traditional publishers (what they now call “Legacy” publishers). Before I had written a chapter, I convinced myself that I’d never find an agent to assist me, and, even if I could find an agent, no publisher would buy my book. As you can imagine, with that mindset my book did not get written. My writing stopped, entirely, for a few years.
Like many, I even had people close to me say things like, “What makes you think you should be famous, anyway?” And, “Well, you should just be happy with a good job.” And, “Don’t try that. You might fail.” The last one is a sort of conjugation of many statements that meant the same thing. (Note: Everyone has a reason for the advice they choose to give you. Be discerning)
As the years passed, and the Internet became a staple of life, I summoned the courage to reach out to some websites that focused on something I loved. I immediately had writing success, but I knew I hadn’t reached for what was in my heart. Given that fact, when a stumbling block came along that shook my confidence in the writing business, or my little section of it, I quit again. “That’ll show ‘em!” I thought. How stupid was that?
I’ve always been a late-bloomer, which is where I’ll place the blame for having taken years to realize that negative thinking was killing my writing career before it started.
Last spring, armed with the optimism that comes with the end of winter and the fact that I couldn’t go on any longer without taking action, I began writing my book. I finished MY book late in the year.
I’m still revising and there’s a long way to go before publication, but I was not prepared for the feeling of triumph that accompanied completion. It was amazing! I had a great sense of accomplishment that teetered on the edge of feeling powerful. Superpowerful, even.
Here’s why I’m glad
I’m not focusing on the “what could’ve been” when I say this, but rather on what others can learn from what I’ve experienced.
What could’ve happened if I had not let the walls of negativity stand in my way? I could’ve been standing in the middle of a great writing career, writing my seventh or seventeenth book, earned extra money for retirement, paid for my kids’ college, built a clinic in an impoverished area, built a spaceship.
Or, I could’ve failed. But, even if I had failed, I could have picked myself up and tried again.
As it happens, I’ll never know what could’ve been. I can only go on from here. With my writing, I’m happy with where “here” happens to be, because I’m progressing, undaunted toward the goal.
I’m also glad that I can now use what I’ve learned as a lesson for others. My lessons learned are not just for writers, anyone can apply them to the area(s) on which they’ve given up. Don’t give up, pick it back up and run!
If you’re beginning to experience the things I have, heed my warning. Don’t succumb to the forces acting against you. Your time for action has come!
We’re a lot alike, you and I. We are experts at many things.
I’m curious about something. Does anyone else feel that when you’re on the verge of doing something important/great/good/life-changing, a force (maybe the Dark Side of it) tries to ensure you don’t follow through? I firmly believe such a Force exists. It’s totally beatable, though.
Special thanks, again, to David Sperow. His recent FB post was a great companion in creating this one.
Image Source: Artemis Liu.