I belong to several writer groups and one thing I’ve learned is that writers have a lot in common. For us first-time authors, it’s not unusual to hear stories of a life-long desire to write, but then questioning ourselves until we get permission.
Yep, that sounds like me.
I remember saying to myself in my 20’s that I wanted to be a novelist. It shouldn’t have been such a long stretch; after all, I had just left a job as a writer and editor of a small, military newspaper. I knew I could write. I knew I had a passion for writing. Why should I have had such limiting beliefs about pursuing a dream?
But, I did — as many of us writer-want-a-be’s do. That limiting belief resulted in living the next twenty years with the pulling, nagging, pushing, yelling inside voice that kept saying, “Damn it! Get on with it!”
The experience I described above is heard time and time again in writing groups. So many of us are filled with stories we long to put on paper (or in cyberspace) but in spite of our longing, we hold ourselves back. Last week I heard an author describe needing “permission to write.” What she meant was, after writing her first book she then sought validation through the individuals she asked to review it. When I heard her statement, I recognized that I had done the same thing.
Once my novel was completed, I looked for the “one” person who could validate me as a writer. I was so nervous when I asked Jack Modell to read my story. I didn’t know Jack very well at the time, only that he was a vice president and chief medical officer in the company where we both worked. I knew that he was the executive sponsor for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee network — a group that I supported in my role as the US inclusion and diversity manager.
“I don’t normally read fiction,” he told me nicely. “And, I’m getting ready to leave the country for two weeks vacation, but let’s talk about it.”
Long story short, he was the first to read my book from beginning to end, and when he called me to set up an appointment to share his input I was scared to death. I remember taking his call in the safety of my home (so that I could hide under the covers afterward, if needed). I still have the piece of paper I used to take notes during our discussion. The first word at the top of the page is “Fabulous!”
He told me which part of my book made him cry and what part he felt I wrote most beautifully. He described the book as “gripping!” He went on to give me medical insight that would make the book more authentic. He suggested areas to expand and strengthen. I was elated — goosebumps ran up and down my arms and legs. I had been validated!
It’s sad to recognize the depth of my own insecurity, but there it is. What’s even sadder is that so many story tellers are stalled with the same self-doubt. As a writer, one of the messages I want to share is that, if I can do it, so can you!
Whether you long to write or dance or discover the cure for cancer, my hope is that you won’t let the voice of doubt stand in the way of your life’s desire. I hope you will remember that we live in an abundant universe where anything is possible.
Now that my dream has been realized, what’s yours?