It was a strange emotion, one that I couldn’t easily identify. It felt like a physical shift had taken place, like something had snapped off in my heart. It left a dull ache, a shortness of breath.
One moment I was fine, feeling confident and positive.
The next I felt hollow, as if someone had just let me in on a joke, and I was the butt of it.
I was the butt.
In trying to trace it back to its source, there was a conversation, the one when I was supposed to be thinking about new ways to develop my writing, except that 90% of the suggestions were things I already do naturally. So not only am I a know-it-all, now I’m a snob since I feel like I’ve got it pretty well figured out. Not that my novel’s published but I am on the right track.
It might have stemmed from the music on the radio, a harpist in the background playing a fairly simple, repetitive riff that was lovely and making the harpist millions. “I could do that,” I thought. And then it hit me: maybe I couldn’t do that. Maybe, although I play the harp and have since childhood, maybe I could never be that person who revels in being onstage, performing under pressure that way.
And that was it. The cogs clicked into place.
Maybe I’m a fraud.
Maybe I just think I’m a writer.
Maybe I just think I’m a good harpist.
Maybe I like the image of those roles and the sense of being set apart from regular, workadayjob people. If I can say I’m working on an article or preparing for a “gig” (see? even that sounds pretentious doesn’t it?) then I am doing something worthwhile, something more than simply being a stay at home mom.
In response to a failed attempt to make a tiger mask for my daughter’s school program, a dear friend gently pointed out that I can be domestic and not be crafty. WHAT?? I’m not crafty??
In the same way, I’m afraid that somewhere down the line a friend will gently pull me aside and tell me I’m more of an amateur writer than one with professional potential. That’s where the fear kicks in, when I think I’m on the road to being a writer and could discover, after I’ve worn out five pair of shoes, that I’ve been deluding myself this whole time, that I’m a dabbler not an author.
The harp thing, I can take that or lose it. I know that I was a skilled musician at one time, and in order to be one it takes a big investment of time and energy (having a pedal harp doesn’t hurt either). I don’t choose to invest my time that way now. I enjoy the music, I value music, but I don’t have to be the one playing it to benefit from it.
Is writing the same thing?
Will I look back on this time, shake my head and chuckle at my grandiose aspirations?
However, even while it is terrifying to say it out loud, I think I will always be glad I invested my time and energy in pursuing this dream. I don’t belittle the time I spent pursuing music, even though I don’t play in an orchestra or prestigious ensemble now. Why must a person continue the same activity over an entire life-span for it to count as a valid pursuit? Is it enough that a person put her whole heart into an endeavor, no matter how long that endeavor lasted?
I may be the butt of the joke, I may not realize how tiny I am or how microscopically small my chances are of being published, but isn’t it better to go after something with passion rather than sit idly by on the side-lines? What’s that phrase? Go Big or Go Home.
So even while it scares me and I think I may end up being a statistic,
I’m willing to invest time and energy in something I love doing, something that brings connection and joy, is a creative outlet and a salve for mind and soul, even if it ends up being for my own health and well-being. Even if people choose to look at my attempts as a joke,
I am willing to be the butt of that joke.
I’m going to be the biggest, best butt you ever did see.
Do you have any dreams that are taking a long time to happen? What do you do to counter-act fear in your life?