Every one of us comes up to crossroads in our lives. You know those life-defining moments that determines your destiny. Or it maybe a bump in the road that in the long run doesn’t really have that much effect on your life at all, thus proving to be a lot of stress over not much. One really never knows until later.
My most recent life-defining moment was centered around going for my dream becoming a well-published and read author or choosing security. Ah, the lovely career choices.
I am getting far enough along in my writing career so that I really need to make decisions. Because if I am really going to try to make a living off of writing the cold hard facts is I am going to have to put a lot more time into it, and it is risky.
Let’s face it, making a living as a writer in the modern days isn’t for the weak-hearted. There are so many factors that have to fall in place to make it work. I have been pursuing writing actively since I graduated from college, since I currently have most of my kids in college, that was a very long time ago.
I had my rise of publishing, found my spot, milked it for as long as I could and then crashed and burned with contracts being cancelled, marriages disintegrating, and burnout baring its ugly head.
Going through all this left me jaded, hesitant, and lacking trust in the dream. It’s something to go for dreams all rosy-eyed and with idealism pumping actively in your blood. It is something completely different to have your hope shattered, your heart ripped out of your chest, and sliced into tiny bits and out of that try to scrape up a little hope.
But over the years that little hope still flickers with the idea that “maybe, this time, I could be successful,” but the stakes are higher. The first time out I had a husband who paid bills and there was no pressure on me to make a living.
This time out, I still have two young children at home, and the pressure weighs on me full court press to bring in the money. When it came to making the decision, I sat down over dinner with my current husband and asked him what he thought I should do.
He said, “Do what you want.”
Yes, not very helpful. I responded by telling him that this decision will dramatically affect both of us and that it probably should be a joint decision.
Thinking that I was making progress with this discussion, I asked, “What I should I do?”
He answered with a shrug. “Do what you want.”
Grant it felt like we weren’t making much progress. I went into a long monologue about how if I was truly going to be successful with writing I was going to have to work more at it. That I wouldn’t be able to keep up my other job as much, and I would need him to step it up and help more.
Did I mention that my husband is mostly a quiet guy? I obsessed more and pointed out that I would need him to bring X amount of money to keep the family functioning.
With my eyes large, and fear in my voice, I asked, “So, given all the facts what do you think I should do?”
He patted my arm and said, “Go for your dream.”
Wow. That was supportive. I looked at him and blinked. “You know that is going to mean that you will have to do more.”
“I know,” he said. “If you don’t go for your dream, you will never know if you could have made it. You don’t want to die with regret.”
That sounded like pure wisdom to me, so we decided that I would give the next two years a go. I would try my best to make it a go. As I started to let go of my other business ventures that were brought us money, I began trembling.
Good on Paper
Going for your dreams sounds so good on paper. It is a completely different thing when it happens in reality. To add to the fear, the job my husband thought he was going to have didn’t pan out.
This stressor had us re-look at our goals and if supporting me to try this was a good idea. Turns out that I am lucky because my husband is still encouraging me to go for my dream even though it means he is doing more cleaning around the house and that we are eating a lot of rice from the five gallon food storage that I had picked up along the years.
Each step of going for my dream has been really scary. I have to learn technology. Believe me; I have never been good at that. My poor kids have to put up with phone calls from their mom stressed about trying to figure out how to sign on to Twitter or how to get an image to appear on the blog.
So far, the only way I can keep myself moving forward is telling myself to baby-step through it. I love the movie What About Bob? My favorite scene in the movie is Bill Myer who is panicked and scared about everything. He decides he is going to baby step to the elevator to face his fear of living in general. He mutters to himself as he takes tiny steps, “Baby steps to the elevator.”
So, I mutter to myself, “Baby step to finding my password. Baby step to sign on.” It seems to be working. The proof to that is this blog post is posted. If you are reading this on my blog than I baby stepped my way through it!
If I look up and see all the things that I need to accomplish and all the gigantic mountains I need to climb, I get overwhelmed and freeze. I can get swept up into self-doubt. Like, for example, doing this blog. I am dyslexic. Not a little bit of dyslexic, but a lot. I make grammar mistakes. I write sentences that make sense to me but no one else.
When I heard the importance of writing a blog once a week that stressed me out. I can’t afford an editor every week. Besides, that would require serious speed writing. Of course, I use editor after editor in my books. That problem alone could stop me, but my whole family right now is dependent on me being successful no matter what I do. So whether there is grammar mistakes or not (I hope not!) I am publishing my blog and stepping back to see what will happen.
Therefore my other secret is if you are going to go for your dream like I am, don’t look up. Baby step. Baby step. Baby step.
All this stuff is really scary, and I have to take deep breaths. Truly I think it will be a miracle if I actually make it, but I am determined to give it my best.
Like my husband said, I don’t want to be going to my grave wondering if I could have made it. No matter how things turned out, I will at least know. Plus not to mention I do have plan B, C, and D in place if I don’t. Those plans sound so dreary versus writing it is motivating to conquer one baby step at a time.
Anastasia Alexander, author of Superstitious Romance and upcoming novel Romancing JT.