I’ve spent the last decade convinced that I didn’t have what it takes to become a published novelist.
After growing up with this dream – my only dream – to be a famous author who wrote fun romances, I suddenly came to a full stop when I realized just how damn hard breaking into the publishing world is.
I stopped writing, and essentially stopped dreaming, around the time I finished high school.
I declared an education major in college. And then that was a disaster so when it was time to change majors and my options were English or journalism, I chose journalism.
And now here I am. Nearly five years removed from college, my thirties looming in the distance, still holding on to that dream that just won’t die.
No matter how many times I shove it down, or box it up, or laugh it off, I still want nothing more than to be a published novelist.
More than marriage, more than babies, more than my goal weight, more than a corner office.
I want my name on the spine of the book. I want my words on crisp, opaque pages. I want my heart out in the world.
And after a decade of telling myself I don’t have what it takes, I decided to stop that negative talk.
I do have what it takes. I am good enough.
What is the point of a dream if I don’t chase after it?
There’s been no other path for me than published novelist. After college, I struggled with figuring out my career and what I wanted out of it because a traditional corporate job isn’t what fits me. Writing is what fits me.
Shattering glass ceilings and attending conferences and leading meetings and taking initiative… none of that excites me as much as writing does. Nothing fuels my fire as much as dreaming about publishing that novel.
Dreaming big is scary, and I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve been so hesitant to put in the work to write my novel. It’s why I let procrastination take a front-row seat and allow the negative thoughts their place in my heart.
I am terrified.
I am terrified that I don’t have what it takes, that I’ll never sell a novel, that I’ll put in hours and hours of work and nothing will come of it.
There’s a quote that says, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown talked about that quote on one episode of her Magic Lessons podcast, and instead turned this quote on its head and suggested we start thinking about it differently. As in, “What is worth doing even if I fail?”
In essence, why is success a condition for why we should go after our dreams?
What makes me more of a success: not writing because I’m scared I’ll never get a publishing deal thus rendering all my hard work meaningless? Or writing and working hard and chasing after that dream and living life full-out, knowing that it is all too possible that I’ll never get the publishing deal I want?
Success and being recognized for my craft are not what make me a writer. What makes me a writer is putting in the work.
I want to put in the work. I want to spend hours and hours and hours working on this novel of mine. I want to do it because this is what I love and this is what I was born to do. I don’t want to hold myself back from something that brings me so much joy because I’m fearful it won’t be put out into the world. I don’t want to stop chasing my dream because there’s the potential for failure.
This year, this is my creative year. I am going to work on this novel. Tirelessly. Ceaselessly. With joy. With fulfillment. And probably with some pain and heartache along the way because isn’t that what creation is? Ripping out your heart and slapping it onto the page?
No longer am I going to let fear hold me back from something I’ve wanted for my entire life.
No longer am I going to accept defeat just because success might not be the end result.
My name being on the spine of the book is not the reason why I write.
I write because there’s nothing else I’d rather do.