“Are you scared?”
“Are you scared?”
After he asked me the question Thursday night, Reid’s voice echoed inside my head.
And my gut reaction instantly was to nod my head “yes” and let the tears flow.
I don’t even remember the first part of our conversation leading up to that question right now, just that my perception of it was clouded by how freaked out I was getting that NaNoWriMo started the next day.
Reid, noticing my impending distress, took off his headset, set down the Xbox controller, and came to sit next to me on the couch. Wrapping his arms around me, he asked an honest and insightful question that maybe only someone who knows me so well could.
“Are you scared?”
And holy moly, am I ever.
Which probably sounds ridiculous. You might be thinking (because I have), “Oh, come on Danielle, what could be scary about getting to sit at home in your pajamas and write a novel for a month? It’s your dream job!”
And that’s exactly it.
It’s. my. dream. job.
Which means, if I discover I actually suck at it, then that’s a much harder blow to my self-image than finding out I didn’t want to be a recruiter anymore.
If I allow myself to pursue noveling (I know that’s not a verb, but I’m making it a verb), like really truly jump in with both feet and DO THE THING, and it totally flops, as in my books don’t sell for whatever reason, or people hate what I write, then that would be pretty devastating for my ego probably.
Oh right, that’s what we had been talking about!
Last Thursday, Halloween, I came out of the bedroom from getting ready for bed and plopped down next to Reid who was playing Xbox – Rocket League, to be specific.
“What’s up?” he said, moving one of his headphones behind his ear.
“Oh nothing, just wondering if I’m too sensitive to be a writer because I have such a huge fear of possibly getting negative reviews and then if I’m too sensitive for writing if that also means I’m too sensitive to be a mom and deal with everyone’s opinions about how I’ll probably do so many things wrong while momming too and so then if I’m too sensitive for those things then what is there left for me to do in this world?!”
Reid laughed, like a belt of a good belly “ha!” and then, looking over to see the well of tears that had begun pooling in my eyes, that was when he exited the game and came over.
He apologized for laughing, but he was only laughing because he knew exactly what I was doing even before I knew I was doing it, which was – trying to talk myself out of my dream before I had even officially started the official countdown to achieving it.
Why do our brains do this to us?? I can brainstorm a seemingly fantastic idea, but then have 11 reasons why it’s not such a great idea after all before I’ve even finished scribing the idea down on paper.
I can have a dream to write a novel, and then over-analyze and over-complicate that process until it seems too huge a mountain for me to even attempt anymore.
And sometimes, the scariest thing about allowing yourself to chase a dream is the simple possibility that if you accomplish that dream, your world as you know it could change.
Change and the unknown are scary, and sometimes even when there’s a positive change, my brain always starts creating problems way ahead of when I’d actually need to start concerning myself with them.
For example, these past few days I’ll find myself daydreaming/already worrying about topics such as “what if I don’t like doing book tours” (assuming that I, one, write a novel, two, get it published, and three, find success as an author), or, “what if someone brings a lawsuit against me saying that a story I wrote is too similar to a story they wrote.” You know, fun and helpful stuff like that to be spending mental energy on when I HAVEN’T EVEN WRITTEN A FREAKIN’ BOOK YET.
Geez Louise. So, to sum up the first few days of NaNoWriMo:
Scared? Yes. But attempting to keep things in perspective, which for now means stop worrying about everything else and just write words of fiction every day? Also, yes.
Oh, Danielle! Thank you for sharing your authentic self, on your journey to write your first novel. It’s ok to be scared, but you are preparing yourself by researching and understanding the whole process of being a novelist. Take a deep breath, keep journaling and letting all the thoughts out, and take it one day at a time, one step at a time, and even one word at a time!
While I certainly wish for you all the success in the world, I wish more for you to enjoy the creative process, and enjoy the writing, and to let the rest sort itself out. You will need to figure out how to take edits and criticisms of your writing, but don’t let it be personal — if done right, it is to help improve the writing, not the writer, because the writer is already pretty darn amazing!