I have set a goal for myself that I have to admit I’m afraid of achieving. Because if I achieve it I might find out I’m not good enough. Yet. And that’s always a hard thing.
There is a writing competition hosted by a website that has been instrumental in my development as a writer. It’s a brand new competition and they will only accept 75 entries for a women’s fiction novel. Not only is it a competition hosted by a site I trust, every entry gets feedback from editors in the field.
Which is huge for a writer to be able to put their book in front of people who make decisions.
So I opened up the file on my computer I have been avoiding for the past month, and got to work. As I get deeper in revisions, I slip easily into the cone of shame. I have 5 weeks to polish my work into something worthy of being judged. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of my writing. It has morphed and grown over the past 2 years I have been working on it. I understand way more about the writing process and story construction than I did when all I had was an idea on a napkin.
But in order to get the story submission ready it will take a lot of work. A lot of late nights, early mornings, and missed blog posts. A lot of time away from the kids, locked in my office while they beat on the door asking me “WHERE IS MY TOOTHBRUSH?”
And sometimes I doubt what I’m attempting to do. And whether its worth it. Just like every hard thing requires us to ask.
I spent a lot of time in my life avoiding hard decisions, hard jobs, difficult classes, or impossible tasks. And once I lived through the most difficult time of my life and came through on the other side, I now preach to my kids: do the hard things. Tell the hard truth, pick the hard math problem, and do something you don’t think you can do. I try to live what I tell them. I’m training for the marathon I always told myself I should run, but never signed up for. And I’m not just going to finish that book I’ve been playing around with for the last couple of years, I’m going to let someone else read it.
It’s hard to let go and do the hard thing. Writing is something I told myself for a long time I couldn’t do. I had all the reasons and they made a lot of sense. It wasn’t practical, it wasn’t a job, and who did I think I was? Margaret Atwood? Submitting this book proves to myself I can do something hard. I can do something I thought was impossible. Even if I fail. Even if my book doesn’t get picked for a second look. Even if I don’t make the cut-off and I am the 76th entrant. I want the letter back saying please try next year.
Because that means I took the first step over the gulf of who I was and who I intend to be. And one failure is one small part on the road to success. It’s the difference between growing or staying stagnant. Come May 1st I don’t want to ask what could have been if I only sent in my book. The only feeling I want is stomach churning thrill that happens when I step into the unknown. And through that, I hope I will have shown my kids and myself that I’m not too scared to do the hard thing.
How do you keep doubt from stopping you doing hard things?