Fear can either hold us back from what we are destined to become or propel us into the unknown, writers and fellow artists coming out stronger and better for the experience. There are several things I am afraid of, one of them being failure. What if I’m actually not as good as I want to believe I am? What if, after all of this preparation, I find myself just fading into the background? Another grunt at some large company shrouded by an endless sea of cubicles? As a 30 day writing challenge I participated in throughout the month of February, I was asked to record my worst case scenario. To describe my worst fear and try to embrace it. I’m pasting what I wrote for that challenge in this post because my fears are still the same and, if this is meant to be my reality, I’m still unsure if I would be able to survive it or not.
My worst case scenario as a creator is falling into the plan my father has made for me. He loves me and is naturally concerned about my future. We still argue about having a career in writing and how even being an English teacher doesn’t promise financial success. This is coming from a man who was the first in his family to graduate with a college degree, worked hard all his life and eventually reached the top of his career working for the government. It’s all he knows, which I understand, but having such a logical thinker, who calculates salary and achievements above overall happiness is a struggle. Especially when others applaud my creativity and he still dismisses it as a hobby.
So my “horror” story would be to wake up every day, wear the same suit to work, flash a badge and sit behind a desk analyzing records whether criminal, political or concerning mail fraud. That’s what he hears when I mention editing, proofreading or publicity. Me, sitting behind a desk, staring at a screen and reading information that I don’t understand.
Could I survive this? No. not after everything I’ve done and continue to do in order to erase this future. I just remind myself of all my accomplishments:
- Working towards my second masters, an MFA
- Receiving a GA position at the school and getting “promoted” next semester
- Immersing myself in conferences, one of which is the Iowa Writers Festival this Summer
- Two published authors have told me I have what it takes
- I’m beginning to write everyday and reading a lot more then I used to
- I’m happy with the person, the writer, I’m becoming
Now please understand that my father is not a bad person. Note he thinks in numbers and calculations while I think in words and pretty pictures. Despite mentioning working for the government he is showing more signs of joining me on a more creative journey. For example, we will both be attending the Writers Festival in Iowa and he even wants to sit in on a couple of panel discussions. He also reads the stories I write and is amazed with the ideas I come up with and how I apply them to the page. We also sit around my IPad and watch the Random House #AskanEditor live chat on Periscope every other Friday together.
So I’ve taken control of my worse fear because, while it worked for my father, that career would suffocate me in misery. My dad continues to be supportive but the final step is to prove that writing can be my life, working for a publishing company while writing flash fiction, short stories and novels.
Am I still afraid of failure? Yes. I can’t imagine living the life my father did because it was not my life to live. Being a writer is scary, especially since you never know if you are meant to be as big as Toni Morrison or Stephen King. Our track record for sanity and longevity is not very good either. So imagine being the parent of someone who wants to be a writer, listening to all the statistics about the salaries of editors, publicists and agents.Though I have my father’s support, I can’t imagine how he looks at me when I’m writing, calculating how much I might make per page if someone is willing to pay for my short stories.
We are logic and creativity, calculations and carefree thought, reality and dreams. Together, my father and I are both realizing that we have something in common:
We are both afraid of seeing me fail so we do whatever it takes to ensure that does not happen.