If someone asked you the question, "Are you brave?" what would your answer be?
I used to think I wasn't brave. I'm not the type to sign up for bungee-jumping off large cliffs or skydiving out of airplanes, but bravery doesn't always consist of endeavors that push my physical limits. Being brave sometimes involves the mental challenge of just getting out of my comfort zone. Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama and the popular ezine, The Prosperous Writer, writes in her ezine about the 52 Qualities of Prosperous Writers. Number 15 just happened to be bravery.
After reading Christina's take on bravery, I reminded myself that I am brave. Crossing a huge threshold of comfort to start and continue this blog requires courage. Submitting essays to local, regional and national publications requires guts. My fear of rejection and ridicule is paralyzing but I continue anyway. Why? Because every other writer I know has the same paralyzing fears.
Christina says, "You have to be brave in your writing to say what you mean, not what you think others want to hear" and "It takes some serious chutzpah to present your work to industry gatekeepers like agents and editors." If a successful author like Christina says it takes bravery and chutzpah, well, then, I guess my timidity has merit. I also hear from every writer I follow that at one time or another (or even continually for some) they felt fear. I can't read a book or a blog by a respected writer without discovering how they pushed through that fear. When I realized that I didn't corner the market on "anxious new writer," I started writing.
I am still nervous when I hit the submit button. What if the editor didn't get my analogy? What if she thinks I'm too vain? Did I follow a narrative arc or add enough dialogue? The questions go on and on and on. But, whenever a question about my ability pops into my head I recall past accomplishments in which I was called upon to be brave. I remind myself that I have already tackled fear. And won. Like the time I backpacked through Europe by myself. Or, the time I interviewed for a new job and negotiated a salary almost three times what I was currently making. Or, becoming a mother. If being a mother doesn't require bravery, what does?
So, I keep writing and I keep submitting. The only way to become a published writer is to write. The only way to get better is to keep practicing. The only way to combat fear is to read ezines, like Christina's, to learn about the industry and other writers' experiences. To belong to writers' forums to develop a camaraderie and gain insight from like-minded people. I learn. And I learn some more. And with each learning process the fear becomes less like Mt. Everest and more like a sand dune. It still exists, but it's slightly more manageable.
If you think you aren't brave, think again.