One of the pieces of advice I remember most was given by my college dance instructor,”Laney, you’re one of those dancers who has all this talent but never comes to class.” She shook her head, I remember, as if I were driving her crazy and went on to say that I could do so much with my talent if I just put the time in.
Thing was, I’d been dancing my entire life. I’d put the time in. I’d busted my ass and now all I wanted to do was show it. I wanted to perform. And so I did. I put in hours and hours of rehearsal time every week, performed a few times a year and I loved it. I wasn’t interested in going to class. I knew the drill. I was happy in the now. I was performing and performing well and wasn’t THAT the point??
For Ms. Alora, there was so much more that I was capable of. So much more I was losing out on. I was a good dancer. But in my instructors eyes, I could’ve been great. I was wasting my talent by not coming to class.
Sure I could’ve gone much further than I did. Busted my ass a little harder, hung in there a little longer. But, I was happy doing what I was doing.
Now, as I read everything under the sun in regard to publishing and honing the craft as a writer, I wonder, have I put in the time? Would my dance instructor say, “Laney, you need to keep studying. Don’t publish yet.”
After dancing for close to 16 years at the time of her first bit of advice, she still wanted more. I continued to dance for many years after that and I never forgot her words.
As I look at my completed novel, I wonder, should I study for a little longer? Bust my ass for a few more years?
Was Ms. Alora right?
I put in my time as a dancer. Years and years of it. And at the end of the day, I did what made me happy. That should count for something. When is it ok to trust that you’re on the right path for you?
No one can say whether or not I should have showed up for class more. Or that going along with what someone else thought was the right way to go–was indeed the right way. It was my way. I get to choose. And if I fail, then I fail–but at least I tried. At least I chose the road to travel–it wasn’t chosen for me.
I didn’t fail as a dancer because my path was different from what was expected–I excelled because I listened to what I thought was right.
All this second guessing surrounding the publishing industry is enough to drown new writers. Which way is up or down? Will people like my work? Will they destroy it with reviews?
But here’s the real question–Will you be happy or even content if you don’t publish your work? If it stays hidden in a drawer?
Why put in all that time and effort if you don’t plan to perform?
I mean, that’s the whole point. Isn’t it?
I accomplished what I set out to do: I finished my novel. YAY ME!
Truly, I’m thrilled. On so many levels. There were several times I considered walking away, considered I was totally wasting my time, considered I wasn’t any good. I’ll say right now with full gumption, that it’s been a long time since I have been so proud of myself. I’m almost giddy. Even if it sucks–I love that I wrote it, love that I had the courage to finish it and love that I put myself out there.
I am so relieved to say and so I have to say it out loud, “I’M DONE!” Ok. I realize that once I’m brave enough to send it off for editing, I’ll be on pins and needles, likely vomiting from anxiety. And yes, I realize to that I will likely, no, I will most definitely, have a lot to fix and scrap. I also know that the story itself might suck.
BUT…! In spite of all of theses factors, I am thrilled that I completed what I started. An 80,000 word novel. A novel that, regardless of where it goes, or the response it receives, I am proud of.
What was many times a hair pulling, pacing and screaming affair, has in the end, been completely worth every doubt I had about whether to keep going or walk away. In the end, I was too ingrained to leave it.
So now, I have begun #2 in the series and will allow #1 to sit tucked away unseen and untouched to stew before facing judgement day. Then I shall bow it down to the editors feet and allow the fear and loathing phase to commence;)