Why does putting yourself out there feel so awkward and downright scary? I entered a short story competition, and during the submission, and even after I hit the “Submit” button, I felt like puking. What would happen if I never heard from the organizers again? Except for them to say “thanks for your $25 entry fee and have a nice life.” Nothing, nothing would happen. I would go on living, breathing and dreaming. And if I never told anyone that I entered, no one would even know that I… FAILED. Ah, here we go, that’s where that gross feeling in my stomach is coming from. Because what if I’m not as great as I think I am, what if my story is not as good as I think it is? Or what if the story is really good but I just entered the same competition as some Hemingway-esque genius that wrote the next Hills Like White Elephants?
Well then, obviously that savant is winning the competition and I’ll stick to the pulp fiction I’m good at. But why do I doubt and twist and torture myself anyway? I did something. I wrote something. I edited it, and I submitted it humbly, hoping that it provides some entertainment. Why should I feel shame if a room full of New York coffee-slugging, black-sweater wearing, literature aficionados don’t like my work? I apologize in advance to New Yorkers, but this is how I imagine your publishing elite. Maybe I just didn’t write for the right audience. Sure, there is a chance what I wrote is a big pile of steaming crap, but given you keep coming back here to read what I wrote, I’m guessing that’s not it.
I’m analytical by nature; my bachelor’s degree is in human physiology. So when I think of the anxiety I get from inching out further and further on the ledge, I think of the useless adrenaline my brain is telling my body to pump into my veins. Why the hell my brain thinks we should be getting ready to fight or flee, just by trying something new, is beyond me.
A few months ago I reached out to a regional horse publication, Northwest Horse Source, to see if there was any possibility of doing an article or guest post. After the editor reviewed the sample blog posts I submitted, I was invited to post a monthly column for 2016. I saw the January column posted for the first time today, in all its official looking glory, a bio section on me and everything. I’m not doing groundbreaking work here, but I’m doing something. If I never would have asked if I could write something for them, I never would have been invited to do a monthly column. If I never submitted my short story into the competition, I would never even have a chance at winning. I still may not win, but you can’t win the lottery if you don’t play.
So here I go, taking little baby steps toward a larger goal, publishing my book (which by the way it turns out is a huge pain in the ass to edit), getting doses of adrenaline dumped in my body by my instinctual brain. But I’m going to keep doing it. It’s terrifying and electrifying. Life is short; I’m not going to let a little adrenaline keep me from pushing the envelope.
Oh and go buy a lottery ticket, I hear it’s getting big.