Me: Guess what I bought with the Mother’s Day money you sent me.
Me: Roller skates!
Mom: Are you sure that’s a good idea?
Me: I’ve been wanting some for a long time. I get bored walking, but I love to skate.
Mom: But what if you fall?
What if. Those two words keep us away from too many adventures.
What if the editor hates my story? What if the agent reads my query to her cool agent friends and they cackle loudly over wine and cupcakes? What if my husband’s grandmother is so offended by my YA that my descendants and I are permanently banished from all family events? What if I agree to do a school visit and the kids hate me?
Sound familiar? The scary thing about the “what ifs” is that the awful scenarios we come up with can happen. So what do we do to keep them from handicapping us? I have two ideas about this. The first is to focus on the better possibilities.
What if I am the disco queen on my new roller skates? What if the editor loves my story? What if the agent posts my query on her blog as a how to guide for other writers? What if my husband’s grandmother chooses not to read my book—but is proud of me for writing it? Let’s face it, most grandmothers would be offended by most YA. What if the kids at the school visit love me and commit to buying every book I ever write?
Those things could happen too, you know.
But if the happy thoughts get overwhelmed by the terrified ones, remember this: Courage is not being without fear. Courage is acting in spite of fear. Picture Peter, from THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. His sister Susan is trapped in a tree with a leg dangling down in front of a snarling, snapping wolf:
“Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do. He rushed straight up to the monster and aimed a slash of his sword at its side. (Lewis 127)”
So be brave, friends. Focus on the great things that can happen if you’re willing to risk the falls. And if you do fall? Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off and try again. I’m rooting for you.
Lewis, C.S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1970.