Into The Arena
It has taken me four years to write my novel River of the Stick Wavers and another year to edit it. Whether I publish traditionally, or self-publish, I know it won’t be an easy process. In today’s society we measure success by how much money we make, or how many people like us (particularly on social media). But given the nature of the type of work I do, there’s no guarantee that the effort I put into my novel will be balanced by the outcome. And so it becomes necessary to find my own measure of success.
At first I didn’t know what this would mean for me until I read Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly. In the first few pages of her book she talks about daring to step into the arena of life, whatever the outcome. “Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose.” (p.2)
There’s no doubt about it, publishing a book is a vulnerable experience. Once my book is released into the wider world, it will be open to criticism. Of course I want it to do well based on the standards set by the publishing world. But if it doesn’t, will I be in danger of questioning my ability as a writer? It’s happened to me before when I didn’t do well in a writing competition. Years went by before I was able to write again. The question is, if my book is not well received, am I going to take it personally and feel bad about myself? I can’t let that happen this time. I have to believe that it is enough to have the courage to show up every day and do the thing that I love, despite the outcome.
And what about my clarity of purpose? I write because it’s in me to write. Writing gives my life focus and purpose. If I couldn’t write, I’d be lost. To be able to share my knowledge and experience of life in an entertaining way is what drives me. Doing something that I love is what drives me. Becoming a better writer is what drives me. If I can hold on to my clarity of purpose, it should be enough, right?
People may put me down and criticize the book I have written. Conversely, once my book is in the hands of a reading public, it will take on a life of its own. People will read it, and perhaps talk about it at book clubs, and come up with their own interpretation of the story. In all honesty, I don’t know how I’m going to feel about any of that. But I’ve studied the writing craft, done the research. I overcame my fear of driving long distances in order to visit the location of my novel. I hired an editor, and though the process challenged me and made me question my ability as a writer, I know that in the end, that I am indeed, a better writer. And now I’m ready to put it all out there and say, “I did it. I realized my dream of becoming a published author.” You can’t do that while playing it safe or waiting for the right moment. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to step into the arena and do the hard work it takes to write a novel and then put it out there. That will be the measure of my success. And I have to believe that it will be enough.