Failing...Again and Again
I've wanted to be an author for many, many years. Telling stories is one of the few things I feel good at.
While my dream of becoming a published author came true in 2013 and I've written/published several more books since then (under a pen name), the success that I just knew would follow hasn't. But surely, if I'm doing the work that I was called to then it should.
I don't know anymore. Every time a book comes out I think, "Now, this one. Surely this is the one that will launch my name into the greater reading circles." I don't expect a bestseller (but I really want one). I don't believe that because I'm called to write, it should be easy or that doors should fly open at my approach. I don't believe that I will become an overnight success.
But does it have to be quite so hard?
The degradation of my mental state goes something like this:
"I'm so excited to write today! This new manuscript is great. I'm really going to make it this time. This is the book that will connect with readers near and far."
(Type, type, type. Write, write, write. Then checks Google Analytics)
"Wow. That can't be right, can it? Eight visitors to my website? Eight? And two of those were me, checking things over."
"I must be doing something wrong."
(Sick, squeezing feeling in belly)
"God must not have really called me to write this. Maybe I'm supposed to be writing that."
"I suck at writing."
"Maybe I need a little inspiration."
(Reads popular author's blog post/Twitter post)
"I'll never write like her/him. Why do I even bother trying?"
Honestly? I want the career that Joanna Penn has. I think she's a super-smart and savvy business woman. I love her nonfiction books. I like her podcast...though I have to listen only occasionally, as it makes me feel a little frantic. Like I'm crawling along while she and her guests are sprinting miles ahead of me.
“The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling, or changing, or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo – even when it's not working. It attaches to past and present and fears the future.”Boiling things down to the basics, I have two choices.
― Richard Rohr,
Choice A: Give up
Choice B: Keep going
I've tried giving up. For over a year after getting a full-time, corporate job, I resisted writing anything except in my journal. I told myself over and over again that I was free from that burden, that I didn't need to do anything above and beyond my regular, everyday life. That I was a "regular person," now, and could just rest and relax when I wasn't at work.
And then I got really depressed.
Instead of freedom, I felt deep sadness and emptiness. Instead of lightness in my spirit, I felt haunted. Instead of restfulness, I felt dull and half-asleep.
It was like I was on a treadmill: going through the motions of life, but not really open and present, not really aware of everything around me. Head down. Nose to the grindstone. Don't look up.
But when I'm doing the writing work I'm meant to? When I'm writing and living my dream (albeit without the accompanying success)? I feel fulfilled. My spirit is more at ease, sparks fly and my world feels right.
Creativity is ingrained in me. Creativity is what I'm here on earth to share. Keeping it bottled up and on the shelf hurts me...and others who might have gotten something from whatever it was I refused to share.
It still hurts though. It hurts to spend hours and hours of time on something, only to have it fall flat. It hurts to have others refer to my work as a "little hobby," when it is something so much more to me. It hurts to constantly try to affirm my worth as a writer in a very noisy, very crowded world of creatives.
What is the alternative though? To tamp it down. To deny my dream. To be untrue to myself and my creative spirit. Those aren't alternatives that I'm willing to explore anymore.
Better to keep failing and failing again, then to give up.