Why do I put myself out there?

Posted: June 2, 2013 in Writing

I happened to be relieving in a year 9 classroom recently when a student pulled out her assignment.  It was a ‘Quest Story’ task.  I’m familiar with the assignment, I used to do it with my classes too.  Essentially they need to write a short novel that conforms to the Quest Story genre.  It is never an easy challenge and many students have seriously come to grief undertaking it.  I asked her, “Do you want me to have a look at what you’ve done?”

To which she replied, “No way, I can’t show you my work, you’re a real writer.”

I suppose I was a little taken aback by this.  A real writer?  It’s not exactly like I have any formal qualifications stating that I am.  Nor do I have a string of publications to my name.  The only thing that qualifies me as a writer is that I possess a strong desire to write and (an even stronger one) to get better at it.

I explained to the student that I was no expert in the field of writing. “I’m not even published.” I told her.  I went on to explain to her the challenges ahead of me as I go about attempting to have something I have written published and the likelihood that rejection will probably emerge as a fairly strong theme during this journey.

In many ways I could relate to this student’s feeling of insecurity.  I spent the first part of my life refusing to put myself out there because I was fearful of failure and rejection.  I cringe now to think of how many opportunities were wasted, and of how many experiences I declined due to this.  What I did not understand was that failure and rejection are all part of the journey and that  what matters in this journey is how you respond to the setbacks and grow through it with persistence.

I remember the day I first realised that writing was something that I wanted to do seriously.  We had an author come to work with my year 8 English class.  He did some writing activities with the students and rather than sit back and enjoy I participated in every single activity with the rest of the class.  By the end of the lesson I had produced a very rough draft of a short story.  That night, after I had put my children to bed, I continued to work on it.  The next morning, again working with the author in residence, I took a risk.  For me it was a huge risk.  I shared my work with the class.  The students loved it and the author told me something that has stayed with me forever, “This could be the first chapter of your novel.”  And so it started.

Having overcome the first challenge of sharing my work with other people, I started doing this on a regular basis.  The feedback students have given me has been honest, frequently insightful and a powerful motivator to keep at it.  Some have even told me that they find it inspiring.  Sure I have days where the self doubt creeps in and I feel like all the thousands of hours I have wasted will come to nothing.  I am getting better now at telling my negative self to ‘bugger off’ and I keep putting myself out there and telling people about what I am doing.  I’ve also learned about the importance of not thinking too big.  No, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are successful authors.

Thomas Edison was apparently quoted as saying ‘Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.’  I must admit that I used to think that success in life was all about talent.  I suppose most of us possess a deeply rooted desire to succeed in something.  It may be to create heavenly paintings, sculpt wedding cakes  or beautify faces with makeup.  For others it is to sing, to compose music or dance.  For me it is the desire to create amazing worlds with words.  Rather than hide my dream away in some deep dark part of my heart, I have decided to nurture it, to watch it grow, for who knows then what shall become of it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s