In several venues lately I've been a party to discussions about starting to write, writing, fear of failure if you finish, submit and publish a book and, in some cases, even more frightening, the fear of success because someone may expect you to do it again.
Not a week goes by it seems that someone doesn't tell me they wish they could write or they always wanted to write or that some day they plan to write. They have any number of reasons why now isn't the time. I know those reasons well because I certainly used my fair share of them before I went back to school to complete my masters. Once I got there one degree didn't cut it for me and I did a double masters--as long as I was there I figured I might as well get it all out of my system in one shot. While I've never directly used that piece of paper, I have used the skills I learned in that four year process.
Years ago there was a diet program called Thin Within. It may still be around. The philosophy was similar to what Weight Watchers speaks about these days where if you want something, you crave something, if you don't give yourself a sample of it, you'll go overboard and eat many large portions of it and then beat yourself up with guilt after the fact.
Of course sating our desires doesn't apply to everything. Killing off your real life nemisis, unless it's in a book that is purely fictional, probably isn't a good idea. But for things that might make your life happier (okay, so killing off your nemisis might do that for you) like writing, maybe those reasons need to be re-examined.
I have a close friend who is unable to travel. In the past year or so she sat down and thought about the direction she wants her life to go. She thought about if time and money was not an issue, what would she most like to do. Instead of being frustrated that she couldn't travel to and study at different places like the pyramids or the Monroe Institute or spending time at any number of historic and spiritual places, she made a list of where she'd go and what she'd study. She then began to buy or borrow the books that would take her there, at least in her mind. She's pursuing those dreams, if only in her living room, but she's achieving those goals in a way she can.
I thought about this after an event at work this week and it hit home tonight talking with someone who plans to one day write. He has ideas, he has the goal...and he has reasons for not doing it just yet. And sometimes those reasons are valid.
One of my co-workers was planning to participate in an arduous hike in South America. She'd been training for it for quite some time and last weekend she went on what was supposed to be a day hike. She was an experienced hiker/mountain/ice climber. For whatever reason she left her cell phone in her car and ascended the mountain. The weather took a turn for the worse and while no one knows what happened, some how, she fell 2100 feet. A wrong turn, a mis-step, a slip on a patch of ice, a heavy gust of wind and in a heartbeat, she died. What little consolation we have is that she was doing something she loved. She embraced life, lived it to the fullest and pursued the things she loved, like climbing that mountain. It is those of us left behind that have the gaping hole of unfilled thoughts, desires, needs and the wish to hug her just one more time.
Her closest friend said that she grabbed life with both hands and lived it fully. When she reached the unexpected end of her life, I don't think there was regret that she hadn't done the things she wanted to.
For me she left behind inspiration, the inspiration to pursue my dreams. To make them happen. That when the time comes for me to take stock of my life, I will have at least tried to accomplish the things I wanted most to do.
I've met any number of "want to be" writers. They've got half a book written and spend weeks upon weeks revising those beginning chapters, never to finish the book. I've met any number of people who "wish" they could write, but the time never seems to be there to begin. There are kids, animals, the day job, shopping, cleaning and a host of other good reasons. I always tell the people who tell me they want to write to go for it. Try it.
Reflecting on my co-workers life I say give yourself time each day or 1,000 words a day as a gift to yourself. Don't worry about what you'll do when you finish it or that it may not be "good" or that an editor will find errors or that your family will either knock you or push for another one. Take it one step at a time, but take the step. I think my co-worker would say you won't regret pursuing your dream.