books

On Being Brave

Well it’s all out there now! This week I have been blogging very publicly, not just on this site, but yesterday I also revealed a second site called Simply Fierce. The response has been positive so far. I’m getting lots of support from family, friends and other readers. A few people have remarked that they think I’m being very brave for putting my life out there like this, for the whole world to see. And they aren’t wrong. I have been building up to this for a long time.

It isn’t the blogging that’s brave. I have been blogging since February 2004. And it isn’t the social media that’s brave. I was an early adopter of both Twitter and Facebook and have been on social media for over a decade. But what is such a leap and has taken a lot of courage for me is the fact that I’m blogging AND telling people about it across several social media platforms. I’m self promoting. This is new. This is what has scared me so much that it has taken me over six months from the moment I decided this would be the year I went public, until I actually did it. The desire, the ideas, the creativity, have all been pushing for this much longer even than six months.

But the fear was always stronger.

And this might surprise some people who know me because I am kind of known in my circle as being impulsive and somewhat reckless. I know I have driven my family crazy sometimes when my life all of a sudden changes direction and goes off to a place nobody anticipated. I have caused my mother great stress I’m sure. But here’s what I know to be true about fear, you just gotta jump off the ledge and see what happens. It may be the best thing that ever happened to you in your life, or you might hit the pavement and break your legs, but you just have to take the leap and trust that no matter what happens you will survive.

Of course I’m not talking about truly dangerous situations, you know when you get that tightening fist in your stomach, every hair on your body raises and your ears start to ring. If the fight or flight instinct is real, I’m all about turning heel, taking flight and running . No, what I’m talking about is the things that make you feel uncomfortable. The things that are risky emotionally, mentally, spiritually, professionally, financially … but aren’t likely to cause you real bodily harm. I’m talking about the fear of rejection, the fear of failure, the fear of looking stupid, the fear of being hurt.

The reason why I sometimes come across as being impulsive and reckless is because when I come up against those kinds of fears I usually just push myself off the ledge and hope for the best. I decided a long time ago to live my life with no regrets and I feel like people regret more the things they didn’t do, than the things they did do, but failed. And that’s how the shyest most introverted quiet girl from my high school’s graduating class went to university in Toronto. That’s how I wound up living for two years in Sackville, NB despite having no real reason to be there and not knowing a soul before I went. That’s how I ended up travelling throughout the United States living like a gypsy in a camper trailer.

No regrets! Lots of living!

Except when it comes to one particular aspect of my life …

If I were to die today, my only regret in life would be that I never published a book, that I never seriously pursued my writing. I have had articles and short stories published. I’ve created newsletters and magazines. I’ve published blog posts online. I’ve taken numerous writing workshops and emceed many literary events. I’ve read my short stories and personal essays in public venues. I’ve organised literary festivals and taught writing workshops …

But I have never finished a single large writing project that I started. I’ve never submitted a manuscript to a publisher for book consideration. I’ve never self-published my own novel or collection of short stories.

So what does all this very public blogging and self promotion have to do with me writing and publishing books? Well the daily practice of writing in any form generates a creative humming in my mind, I start seeing the metaphors in everyday life and words flow through me more easily. But the words have never been enough in the past, so now that I’ve gone public I will grow accustomed to self promoting, to sharing parts of my soul with … well, everyone I know online and anyone else who wanders through. In theory, this should make sharing a book manuscript not such a big scary leap. In theory …

The bottom line is that as of today, I have a pretty major regret. And it’s no longer acceptable to me to sweep that regret under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist. Regrets just won’t do anymore.

So in response to all my close friends who think I am being brave … you’re damn right I am! This is by far one of the scariest leaps I have ever taken. I hope I don’t hit the pavement and break every bone in my body. But if I do at least I will have tried.

No regrets.

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