The moment finally arrived for me. Today.
I got to hold the first final copy of my book in my hands.
I have heard of this feeling from other authors who have published before me: the feeling of holding your first copy of your completed book, especially your first completed book, in your hands, and being the first person to be able to rifle through it, to be the first person to read it.
I just came back from the UPS store where I was getting it double-sided printed and bound in preparation for the Library of Congress registration. The feeling I had when I saw the black and white copy with the spiral bound setting was overwhelming. I was turning page by page of a loose-leaf copy checking for errors that need to be edited before the absolute final printing, when it is released to Amazon. Of course, I need it to be perfect before it hits stores in time for Christmas.
As I was turning the pages with a highlighter in my hand, making precious few marks on the copy I had, I didn’t even notice the UPS employee walk up to me from the other side of the desk.
“Here you go.”
The Empowerment and Achievement Journal was literally thrust into my face. The could-care-less-I’m-just-doing-my-job attitude of the employee just made the moment that much sweeter for me.
He had no idea what he was holding, and he had no idea the meaning of it for me.
This step is huge for me for a lot of reasons, and overcoming procrastination is not the only one. Since I have been a kid, I have been afraid of people reading my writing. Even though this book has very little of my own actual writing in it, it is there, and it gives me a lot of anxiety.
I write because I love it. I think the idea of grades and marks in school growing up really spoiled this art for me, or at least my perception of it. Which is silly, because I consistently set the curve for the grade whenever that applied to turning in an essay or some other writing assignment.
I just love to write.
I hate knowing people read my writing.
It terrifies me.
It’s irrational, it doesn’t make sense.
But a couple things have been helping me a lot lately.
The first one is that I chose to actually sit down and start writing. I started out writing privately, in a journal. Years ago I had started my blog, this blog, and every time I sat down to write I believed in my egotistical, writer’s-block inducing way that I had to outdo myself every time I sat down to compose.
Well, that’s not fair.
Not only to myself, but to others, too.
What kind of example am I setting, albeit an energetic one, if I am not allowing myself to express myself for fear of not being great every time?
Life isn’t about that. The most simple and mundane things in life are what is the greatest. The time is past for doing things for awards. What do awards do? In the form of actual trophies, they collect dust and take up space. In the form of compliments, they are transitory.
By not writing, I wasn’t being true to myself. By not writing, I was blocking my own creative energy, and outlet I desperately needed to give in to and help flourish.
Blogging is actually the second thing I took to. Valerie Gangas, author of Enlightenment Is Sexy, became my friend after I won her book on Instagram. I read it, loved it, and she was instrumental in helping me get my Journal published. She told me over the phone I should start writing every day. At this point I was doing all my writing for myself, handwritten, in a prompt journal I got at Barnes and Noble months ago. I still use that journal for fun, but I knew sharing is something I needed to commit to. That’s the beauty of today’s world, and that’s the beauty of what technology has to offer us.
I am so grateful to technology and the demonetization of writing to help me conquer this fear. For months now I have been writing and posting on my blog, not caring who or if anyone reads it. Just yesterday when I went in for acupuncture, my acupuncturist thanked me from the depth of his heart how much my post on his office meant to him. My acupuncturist’s work has really helped me a lot, even after only two sessions. I was shocked that he even knew about it: I don’t speak about my blog, I don’t tell anyone about it. I just post it up and see what happens. I am not even sure how they found it, but I am so glad they did.
Here is what has been going on in my brain since I was a kid and I knew I wanted ot be a writer: in school, you write for grades. The better your writing, the better your grades. Luckily, I read a lot, so my writing was pretty good because I loved reading and I would write stories, fairy tales and horror stories, for fun.
When you become an adult, in the days before blogging the world of writing was tougher: you had to get an agent and you had to get approval from a company to sign you and then print your work. The idea of this stressed me out completely, as I heard so many stories of authors having to change things they didn’t want to, or having to go from publisher to publisher to get any print time (Dr. Suess famously went to over 100 publishers before he was picked up).
To me, this sounded like not only an incredible waste of time, but also very daunting, and incited a lack of any kind of inspiration to do the work.
Blogging has helped me come out of my shell. To have people come up to me and thank me for my posts, to tell me they like what I write, and to keep doing it, well, yes, I’m going to keep doing it! I supposed I could just be another part of the instant-gratification crowd that is Western society, but, you know what? It got me there. It’s getting me to where I see myself going.
Sitting down and committing to writing every day, like how I have committed to meditating every day, journaling every day, exercising every day, making company posts on Instagram every day, are all tiny actions that lead up to great things eventually. I also make sure to surround myself with like-minded people on the daily who believe in their own success, simply as a reminder for me to believe in mine.
Today’s accomplishment brought me back to that scene in Finding Forrester when Sean Connery meets the gifted boy and he is telling him about what he feels when he sits down and reads his completed work for the first time by himself.
“The words we write for ourselves are always so much better than the words we write for others,” Sean Connery’s character states.
Writers do not write for others. They write for themselves. Luckily for writers, there are such things as readers who love to read. The first draft is always written from the heart, then the subsequent drafts are with your head. Thought is given up when writing, you create only form your heart.
Sean Connery later calls the critics of writing “assholes”, because who are they to judge someone’s work? Herman Mellville didn’t join the ranks of literary greats until after he passed away.
This entire exercise, from daily blogging to publishing this first book, is all work in overcoming my fear of being recognized by others. My fear of being recognized as a good writer, because I do not write because I am good, or because I want recognition. I write because I enjoy it, and because it fulfills me. I like telling stories, and I like the artistry of words.
I also love the power of the written word, and how, when applied well and properly, it can truly create the life you want and desire, all we need to do is ask for it by putting pen to paper, and the universe has already been set in motion to make those words come true.
I know this because when I did my first version of this journal in high school I had my most successful track career ever; it made me realize how far I could really go when I got out o my head. Writing down my goals and seeing them exist in black and white helped me shut out everything else going on around me that existed to distract me. Especially the distraction of my irrational belief of people hating what I write, or even loving what I write. Using a journal like this one made me realize that when I write down a goal, it does come true. My experiences were so profound, I had to update it and share it with the entire world, in the way I know is going to work the best for everyone.
Because it is only when we all do our best, when the planet is doing it’s best, too.
Get over your fears, believe you can achieve everything you want in life. I work on it every day in the form of writing in a blog and knowing other people are reading it, and it’s working for me.
On the other side of every fear, is a freedom.
What can you overcome today?