You know how sometimes something in your life happens and it’s kind of an a-ha! moment, both for your life and for writing? Yeah, that.
A few days ago my husband decided we needed to relandscape our yard. This was true. We had a dead bush in front of our house and some pretty ugly stuff the builder had cheaply put there. And still, I balked. I did not want to do this.
Which of course caused a bit of an argument in which my husband was completely baffled by my complete reluctance to make our house less of the neighborhood eyesore. And, honestly, I was having a hard time understanding my own thoughts.
After my husband forced me into picking some plants and planting them, I didn’t feel any better about it. But… I didn’t have a dead bush in my front yard anymore, so it was probably better off. Then we started talking about a lilac bush my Mom bought me. Actually, she bought it for me two+ years ago… and two years ago there were three. But, as I kept putting off where to plant them, they began to… die. So, now I’m down to one potted lilac bush which I would love in my yard, but WHERE to put it?
I went through a list of all the possible places and what was wrong with those places (too close to the house, not enough sun, neighbor kids will destroy it), and my husband finally looked at me and said: it’s going to die if you don’t plant it, so who cares? Just pick a spot and if it dies, it dies.
When I really got to thinking about it… I was afraid. Afraid whatever I picked would look stupid. Afraid it was the wrong plant in the wrong place, etc. And this is not a new fear. Hello, my whole life. A fear of looking stupid, of embarrassing myself. But my husband’s simple advice was right for most of those places where I am afraid.
Bottom line: the ignoring the problem didn’t make it any less of a problem, and oftentimes if I had tried to do something and failed, I would be no worse off than if I had never tried.
I don’t have this problem so much in my writing life because writing is such a fluid thing. Until you get published, you can always fix your mistakes, improve upon your failures. It’s not permanent and mostly your failure isn’t public.
But sometimes I talk myself out of things. Or ignore things if I don’t know what to do about them. And usually, I’m not doing myself any favors by not going out on a limb, trying something new, submitting something different.