“The first thing a writer has to do is find another source of income. Then, after you have begged, borrowed, stolen, or saved up the money to give you time to write and you spend all of it staying alive while you write, and you write your heart out, after all that, maybe no one will publish it, and, if they publish it, maybe no one will read it.” ELLEN GILCHRIST
This morning — floundering, floundering — I read a post on Coffeelicious: “The First 21 Pages of Your New Journal.” I don’t have a new journal, I have a really, really old journal, and the suggestion to write down my fears was a no-brainer.
I’ve been waking up at night in a panic about having quit my job — this is also old — I left full-time teaching 2 years ago. But it was that heart-seizing, PTSD panic I sometimes feel, a fight or flight adrenaline rush when there is nothing to fight and nothing to flee. I wanted to DO something, but there was nothing to do. I had to lie there, I had to list all the things wrong in my life, I had to stop listing things wrong, I had to remind myself that nothing is wrong, I had to remember to breathe.
“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” But sometimes they scare the bejeezus out of you. And you still have to keep inching forward. Not worrying so much about results (will my daughters be okay? is my mom okay? will I ever get a novel published? where is the next poem going to come from? should I go back to teaching? should I go back to waitressing?), but simply doing the next, small, right thing.
For me that means getting up the next morning, no matter how little sleep I’ve had, and opening my journal. It means writing down my fears.
In writing, they don’t look nearly so scary.