It’s been an interesting few weeks. At some point before Christmas, I made the decision to work with a freelance editor on a manuscript my agent has been trying to sell for….well…a while. Truth is, I was happy with the decision, ready to get in the boat. I’ve worked with a couple freelancers before, and it was a good experience. Actually, the book we worked on back then, (Yesterday’s Tomorrow) sold, so the time, effort and money paid off. While I was excited to get my writing in front of someone who’s worked in the industry for years and knows his stuff, part of me was…okay…a little intimidated. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and frankly I figured it might be a lot more work than anticipated. And a fearful voice somewhere deep inside said something like this; “This is totally stupid. You are not a writer. Give it up already.”
Oh, you’ve heard that before?
Yeah. Me too. Not as much as before I had an agent. Before I was published. But yeah, sometimes. And sometimes it’s real easy to get sucked in. To nod and hang your head and mutter words your mother wouldn’t want you using. Words you used to tell your kids off for repeating.
You’re better than you think you are.
I’ve heard this before too. Repeatedly, actually, growing up. Self-esteem is a tricky thing. You’re either born with far too much and everybody hates you or you have none at all and pretty soon you’re the proverbial walking doormat. I have tread marks. Imprints so deep that they won’t ever go away. Not really. Memories of failing. Of trying to achieve more than I was capable of. Of letting myself down and believing I’d let everyone else down too.
There are things we are good at. Things we are not. And I’ve learned I don’t have to be good at everything. But by the time I discovered what I really was good at, writing, I’d left a trail of failed efforts in my wake. Put expectations upon myself I could never live up to. To this day I cannot do even simple math. Not being able to help your first grader with math…not fun…the wave of shame hit hard at that point. But it wasn’t the end of the world. My kids soon learned there were things I could not do. They also learned there were a lot of things I could. Things I was good at. Things, in turn, they were good at.
It’s a scary thing to see your old self-defeatest habits manifesting themselves in your children. I nipped that sucker in the bud from the first time they said, “I can’t.” But, rather than saying, “Yes, you can, and you’ll be the best darn finger painter in the world…” I went with, “You can. You can try. You might succeed. You might not. But you will try.” You see, I don’t believe every race must be won. Sometimes, it’s good to lose. Sometimes, it’s good to hurt. There are lessons to be learned through failure.
All that being said, through the first communications with this fabulous editor, I realized he actually liked my work. Liked my writing, my story, my style. And I was a little gobsmacked. Because he’s read a lot of books. Worked with a ton of big name authors and…well, he wouldn’t just say nice stuff, right? Of course I mentioned the kind things he said to my agent. I think I heard her laughing in Colorado all the way in Bermuda. She sent me a very lovely encouraging email which I have printed and saved in my little box of treasures that contain things like the letter from my first publisher telling me how much they loved my book and wanted to publish it, letters of congratulations, first copies of my two books and a few royalty statements that amount to a few cups of coffee at Starbucks…but the gist of her email said something like this – “Well. DUH.”
You’re better than you think you are.
All I need to do, all you need to do, is believe it.
I’ve never jumped on the wagon of the one word thing – but this year, as I write this, right here, right now, I am claiming one word. Claiming it. Clinging to it for all it’s worth. And believing that I have it.
I can do this. I am doing this. I will do this. And I will not give up. Because I’ve come too far for that now. Worked too hard. Woven threads of hope and faith and perseverance together and tried to create something beautiful. It’s coming. I can’t see the full picture yet, but it’s coming. And whatever it looks like, whenever it is revealed, I do know this. It’s going to be pretty darn amazing. And if it doesn’t come together in exactly the way I hoped and prayed…that’s okay too. Because I’ll be able to say I did my best. Which is better than doing nothing at all.