Have you ever had one of those dreams where you’re running from something, and all of a sudden you just take flight? If you have, then you know that feeling of utter exhilaration – the freedom that comes from no longer being tethered to the ground.
But if you’re anything like me, that dream will sometimes continue, and you learn very quickly that once you figure out that you’re flying, reality invades and you no longer understand the mechanics of human air travel. What comes next is that feeling of abject terror when you begin to fall. You know the ground is rushing up to meet you, and you know it’s going to hurt. The falling isn’t what’s frightening – it’s knowing that you will eventually come to that sudden stop, and there isn’t a thing you can do about it.
Writing is a little bit like that. When you’re in the middle of the story and the words are flowing, it’s exciting. But then it’s over and you ship it off to a publisher. Whether you get the contract or not, there is always going to be that fear of falling – of failure. Even with contract in hand, there will come the moments of self-doubt. The inferiority complex. The absolute belief that nobody will buy it, and even if they do they’ll hate it.
It happens to all of us.
The rewarding part, however, is being able to keep your head up and move beyond it. I use the flight metaphor because it, like a career in the literary world, is a nearly unattainable goal. Some of us work for years and years and years without recognition. And then some – the lucky few – become household names. We all want to be one of those lucky few, but to get there we have to learn our craft.
I am by no means a fabulous writer – I know that. And no, this is not a lame attempt at humility. I know there are others much better than me. I understand and accept that fact. But it is not going to stop me from doing what I love. Who knows? One day after I’ve finally figured out exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing, I might end up among those lucky ones.
But I’m not going to push it too hard yet. Icarus was young and stupid when he learned to fly, and look what happened to him.