This morning I went shopping with my real life BFF (YES I said BFF; what of it??). That in itself is neither strange nor alarming. As we were strolling around the town centre and browsing whichever store took our fancy, we happened upon a bookshop. This is also neither strange nor alarming, but it is rather rare these days unfortunately. Bring back my bookshops! But I digress. We went inside said bookshop to have a look, and I headed straight for the Young Adult section as I always do. You see part of my job as a future literary extraordinaire* is sussing out my competition and becoming well versed in things like which books are popular, who is representing and publishing these books, and which books can be used as comparison titles for my books. Basically** it means I need to read, and read A LOT. Sigh…SUCH a hard life, right?? So there I was in the bookshop, trying to decide if I should buy three new books or five new books, when suddenly I was completely paralysed by what I can only describe as sheer, unadulterated terror. And I actually mean terror. I was standing there in the middle of the bookshop with three books in one hand and two in the other, and all I could think as I stared at shelves upon shelves of Young Adult novels was Oh God Oh God Oh God. I can’t do this. I. Can. Not. Do. This. I’m not even really sure how long I stood there for, reading over all the titles in front of me without really seeing any of them. My heart was pounding, I felt sick, and all I wanted to do was go back two years and never share my novel or my desire to become an author with anyone. I wanted to go back to the blissful days where following my dreams was just something I said, not something I did.
I was going to write that I’m not sure where this fear came from, but that would be a lie. Truth be told, I started writing a post last week that was basically** one big SWEET BABY LAMBS, WHAT THE EFF DO I THINK I AM DOING. I didn’t end up finishing the post because it all just became too much and I was seriously freaking myself out. This whole thing is becoming far too real for me. I don’t like this. It’s scary. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am actually doing what needs to be done to pursue this dream of becoming a writer. Maybe even an author. As I’ve said before, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I even remember the first phrase I wrote that I was truly proud of, the first phrase that made me go hey look, I know how to do this. It went ‘the glass slipped silently from her hand, shattering on the floor beneath her.’ It’s not brilliant, but my eleven year old self thought it was the greatest literary phrase since ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Yes, I was reading Jane Austen at age eleven. No, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.
The phrase, and in fact the entire story – which ended up filling a 96 page exercise book; quite an achievement for an eleven year old – was written in a code made up of symbols because earlier in the year my mother had found a story I’d written, read it, and laughed at me. Not in a vicious way, just in a ‘you’re eleven and writing love stories’ kind of way. Still, it pretty much scarred me for life so thanks MUM.*** I still remember the code (vaguely), as between the ages of eleven and thirteen I was perfectly fluent in gibberish. Or should that be between the ages of
Before I was writing about Astrid and Peter (the stars of my 96 page exercise book), I was writing wannabe Goosebumps stories, and before that I was writing wannabe ‘The Naughtiest Girl in the School’ stories. My point is, I’ve never not been writing something. I’ll always write, even if I get rejected by every single agent and publisher from here to Mars. I’ll always write because I don’t know how to stop. I even write in the car on my way to work – in my head, of course. It’s all I want to do, one hundred precent of the time. And that was fine when it was just something that I did for me, something I did when I was sixteen and lying to my parents that I had homework to do so I could use the computer to write Alias fan-fiction. YES I DID THAT. I’M NOT ASHAMED. No one read my work then. It was private so I could write whatever I wanted without fear of judgement or ridicule, or fear of being told that it wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t good enough. That’s all changed now. Now I catch myself wanting to censor what I write, or wanting to delete whole scenes or stories because it’s mortifying to think about people actually reading them. Which is completely ridiculous, because the whole purpose of being a published writer -slash-author is for people read and connect with your words. My brain is a complicated and irrational place.
Honestly, dear readers, I don’t even know what to do right now. I feel like I’m still stuck in that bookshop, staring at the names of hundreds people who fill me with a desperate kind of envy. People who sucked up the fear and the self-doubt and just bet on themselves. I’m paralysed by the fear of moving forward and the fear of standing still. I have written a novel that might possibly be enjoyed by other people. I have. It’s ready to be sent out into the big bad publishing world, and that thought never fails to make my heart pound erratically inside my chest (but not inside my elbow****). I know it’s time to make time to make a decision: Either move forward and take the next step, or continue living life in the in-betweens. I’ve been living in the in-betweens all year. Between this and that. Trying or quitting. Writing or teaching. Success or failure. I feel like I’m on the precipice of something big. Something life-changing. Don’t get me wrong; I know I will be rejected a thousand times before I get that elusive yes, and I know that I may not even get that yes on this novel, or the next fifty novels that I write. I know I may fail. But if I never start trying, it’s like I already failed. Try and fail but never fail to try, right? It’s so much easy to say it than it is to do it.
I wish I could end this post by saying ‘I’ve just sent out my first query letter!’ but I haven’t. I will, though. I promise you – and more importantly, I promise myself – that I will. Soon. I have an endless source of inspiration and motivation who will never ever let me stop fighting for dreams, even though he doesn’t know it. His words are the reason I have courage to share my words. I’ll leave you with what he said just this morning on VyRT Violet (kind of like a livestream where he is just hanging out with us all, because he is awesome and wonderful and I love him. Yes. I just said that.) I’ve said it before I’ll say it again: I am grateful every single day that I have this band and this family in my life. I know not everyone can understand that and that’s okay, but really, they motivate me and inspire me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s completely amazing. They make me feel like I can fly.
“Sometimes in your most challenging moments and your darkest moments, the breakthrough is right around the corner. We all have to remember that. And if there are people out there who are dreamers like me; people out there who want to do something really special with their lives…Sometimes it’s a challenging thing. The people who aren’t dreamers, the people who don’t try to walk that less beaten path, they don’t understand. They don’t understand. But I do. And I know what you’re going through. And sometimes that gets…Sometimes you just have to keep marching forward, even when you doubt, even when you think it’s impossible, you keep doing the work, you keep showing up, you keep focusing, you keep doing and fighting for what you believe in. And that’s the most important thing. Stick around...and have faith.
Okay, Jared. I’ll have faith.
TITLE LYRICS: ‘End Of All Days’ by Thirty Seconds To What Would I Do Without You?
** DOUBLE DING! ‘Basically’ count is up to four.
***Despite this deeply traumatic incident, my mum is the only person I have let read my novel in full so far, and she proof reads every single blog post for me before I post it. I love you, Mummy-kins.
****I hate it when people write painfully obvious things like this. Really? You feel like if you didn’t tell me that your heart was pounding inside your chest I’d think it was inside your elbow? Trust your readers! That been said, I know I’ve done it before, and will probably do it again. But I always cut it out if I notice it!
If you want to watch today’s VyRT Violet (September 23) and get motivated to LIVE YOUR DREAMS, you can do it here.
Ps, That would be a REAL soon. Not a Jared soon.
Well…Maybe just a little bit of a Jared soon.