Am I willing to face disappointment?
The long and short answer to that question is…YES!
Although, how I got the answer to that question may be a little more complicated.
My story as an author is not unique, in fact, it is almost cliché. I have been an avid reader since I learned how to read. I was a rockstar in English class and in my mind, every story that I wrote was going to be the next New York Times Bestseller. I went to college and got further confirmation that I was indeed on the path to greatness.
Fast forward to finally graduating from college with a degree in words and attempting to write my first book. I left the safety of my liberal arts program where professors embraced my wild and crazy ideas and nurtured my creativity, and I found the real world to be daunting.
I was f*ing terrified!
I was scared to pursue a career writing in a genre that the media, literary community, hell even my family and friends viewed as smut or trash. I was afraid that as a Black author my voice and tone were not viable in a community dominated by people that don’t look like me, share my background or views. (SIDE NOTE: I’m not just addressing ethnicity. I’m talking about socioeconomics, education, religion, etc.)
I’ve lost count of how many books that I started and trashed because I was so focused on how they would be perceived or because halfway through a manuscript I attempted to change my voice and tone so that I didn’t come across as too Black, too dirty, too liberal…TOO MUCH of the wrong thing. Not only was I afraid. I was insecure about my ability to do the one thing that I’d trained for and had dreamed about for years.
So I held on to my words. I buried them under the guise of being an adult. I shelved the idea that writing was my vocation and opted instead to get a “responsible” job. One that offered access to benefits and a solid retirement plan. Something that paid my bills but drained my creativity. But hey when I’m sixty-five and that pension kicks in I’ll have it made, right? Yeah…not so much.
I was miserable. For those of you in the back row that didn’t quite get that let me repeat…I WAS F*ING MISERABLE. It became a struggle to get up every morning and go into a job that paid my bills but made me physically ill. I could barely tolerate my coworkers (it was entirely me not them), and my job performance was subpar on the best of days which made me feel even worse.
At thirty-five years old life picked me up by the collar and b*tch slapped me. All the things, other than writing that I poured myself into fell by the wayside. I was broken-hearted and achingly empty.
Then I became a fan of Super Soul Sunday (Love me some Oprah), and I found my spiritual center (It didn’t look like the religion I was raised with, whole different story). I began to critically look at my life and my goals in an attempt to figure out why I was so unhappy.
And I began to ask myself these questions:
- What do you believe?
- What do you want?
- Who/what do you love?
- What do you need to be happy?
One of the answers that kept surfacing as I worked my way through what amounted to a mound of bullshit was writing. At my core, I have always wanted to tell stories, to express my thoughts in flowery verbiage, and to make a reader feel something.
Late one night I opened a word document on my laptop and began to write. I wrote about heartbreak and uncertainty. I wrote about things that are viewed as a faux pas in the romance genre like cheating. I wrote about a Black couple that wasn’t “urban” or “street,” and the audience I wrote for were women like me. Black, White, or indifferent that could see themselves and their friends in the world that I penned. And most importantly, I wrote because after all this time it is the one thing that makes me smile. Every. Single. Time.
It took long nights and hard work, but I finished it! I completed my first novel. WooHoo! Now I had to release it into the world.
A world where I would be subjected to people who have unlimited boldness behind the computer screen and I came full circle. Once again terrified of things outside of my control.
I’m not twenty-two anymore and I’ve weathered a storm or ten.
What is the worst that could happen when I finally published my book? A bad review? I’m not going to lie. Although a lousy review hurts, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe it’s that I make like no money, and my book baby falls into obscurity? Once again, just the thought gives me chills. It’s also a super sucky alternative.
However, when I strip everything bare all my rumination boils down to one question: Am I willing to face disappointment?
There was a time when my answer may have been different, but today my answer is resounding YES. For me, the risk of disappointment and the fear of failure is not worth giving up on my dream.