“It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about. ~ Alan Ball, American Beauty
I was talking to a writer buddy (whom I’ve never officially met) last night about a few blogfests and magazine contests coming up soon, and I asked her if she was going to enter this one particular contest that pays some miniscule amount ($25) for first place. The short story would also appear in the e-zine in February 2012. She said, “Nah, I’m no good at the type of stories they’re looking for.”
I said, “What? You can’t write a 2500 word uplifting, yet tragic story? Come on. We all have events in our lives that seem like they’re going really, really well and end up in tragedy. Look at the stories that came out of 9-11.”
“Oh, it’s not my style. I write goth mysteries.”
Now this is coming from the same person who told me last summer she couldn’t learn to water ski because she was 47 years old and those sorts of sports are best left to the young. She also forfeited a bunch of money she paid to go to a Writer Conference because the thought of standing before the agent she wanted to see and pitching her novel literally made her sick. It made me sick thinking she threw away $800.00 on an event she didn’t attend. The thing is, this gal is a fantastic author. She’s got it going on. There’s only one thing standing in her way…
I even told her so. I mean, we all get down. We all question our abilities at times. Sometimes we get so depressed and downtrodden and discouraged, especially when the rejections come, but we have to keep pushing. We have to keep going and not take ‘No’ for an answer.
This sweet girl got rather terse with me. She asked if I’d ever pitched to an agent before in person. When I said, “No,” she kindly told me to not pass judgment because I didn’t know what it felt like to have my insides turned outside and my soul revealed to a complete stranger while standing naked in a rainstorm without an umbrella, and the ground I’m standing on is flooding and there are no freaking boats. Not even a life raft.
I chuckled and said, “In that case, I’d take a deep breath, stop talking and swim.”
The conversation went on, no feelings hurt. Toward the end of the call, she sighed and said “I wonder if I’ll ever get published. There’s not a lot of publishers out there who accept goth mysteries.” So I asked her if she’d consider dystopian, YA urban fantasy. “Nah, I can’t write Young Adult. It’s too hard.”
“What about romance or cyberpunk? Fantasy?”
“Nah. Too cheesy, no following and fantasy is dumb.”
And so it went on until the phone call ended. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I e-mailed her afterwards and asked I could discuss our phone call in my blog today and she said yes, as long as I didn’t mention her name, soooo…..
I’m going to tell her what I tell my kids: Miss Goth Mystery, you’re a wonderful writer. You are a wonderful storyteller and you have talent. I have enjoyed everything I’ve ever beta read of yours, but stop making excuses. Life is not about performing a set of routine events. It’s about living. It’s about taking risks. It’s about testing yourself, your abilities. It’s about striving to be more, to be better than you are. It’s about setting goals and taking yourself to the next level. It’s about stepping out of the safe little box you’ve built around yourself and testing the waters. Yes, it may feel like you’re drowning. Yes, you may take three steps forward and get pushed twenty back. Yes, there are going to be times you want to bang your head on the wall and scream “Why!!!” But if you don’t take the chance, then you’ll always be sitting in your comfortable little box saying “I wonder…”
Stop wondering! Get your butt up, challenge yourself, and do it! Learn to ski or sky dive if you want and if goth mysteries aren’t working for you, try your hand at chick lit, young adult or fantasy. You may find out you love it but how are you ever going to know if you don’t try? Go to the conferences if you can afford them, and bring your own life raft to the pitch session. If nothing else, it’ll be a conversation starter and ice breaker. Remember, the only one holding you back from life’s rewards is you. Go for it, and shine. You owe it to yourself.
(Time to follow my own advice) 🙂
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda
Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor. ~ Dr. Alexis Carrel