I originally posted this on medium.com but it makes sense to have it here. It is about writing… and performing… and parenting… and entrepreneurship… It is about overcoming fear!
When writing was easy
The truth is, writing is pretty easy for me…. but I’m afraid, too.
My path to professional writer
It started out fearless!
I’ve been blessed with a gift. It’s been that way since I was young. I had teachers cultivate that in elementary school, Jr. High (Middle School), and High School.
Then, after high school, I mostly stopped writing. I allowed my time to be consumed with forwarding my career as a technologist and then my consulting…. and with my family.
I was mostly content… mostly.. and busy… very busy!
I’d done some writing as part of my career and my consulting — white papers and technical pieces. I’d also written a few poems and essays — for personal consumption and a few friends. Some of those resulted in people suggesting I write something professionally.
I must give credit where credit is due. My ex-wife suggested repeatedly that I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. She knew how much I love his writing.
She bought it for me and put it on my desk. I put it on the shelf! It took me awhile to finally get to it… too long. I’m stubborn, lazy, etc. Whatever!
I read it and it actually changed my life. Or, perhaps more accurately, prompted me to change my life. Either way, a special thanks to her and to Mr. King.
Then, one day, while writing a note to a friend who was asking for career advice, I realized that my somewhat lengthy and attitude driven response to his questions would make an interesting and fun article.
I formalized it, sent it to a computer magazine, and two weeks later was contacted by the editor. He told me they had 3 magazines and that they loved the piece. They were dumping their lead/cover article and using mine in all three magazines. Yes!!!! Double-fist pump!!
I was paid for that article and they asked me to write a monthly column! I was a professional writer. I was an author.
From Blogger to Book
I immediately jumped into blogging, setting up my first blog at blogger.com. I wrote essay-type pieces, political parody, life reflections, humorous news commentary, and career advice. I wrote whatever I wanted.
Many of those pieces were funny, irreverent, and inappropriate. They were so fun to write! Tangential and weird . (Vegas Bound & My Head in a Pickle Jar – don’t ask) I was completely unconcerned with who read what I wrote and their reaction to it. Agree, disagree, think I was a jerk, or weird, or funny.. it was all good.
Ultimately, my articles led to my first book deal and a relationship with a major publisher. Yay me!! (and special thanks and thoughts to my editor whom I LOVE!)
I spoke at events. I was offered additional publishing deals. I was a subject- matter expert!
And then I became fearful!!!!
It was more than my divorce and family turmoil! It was more than the flood that destroyed my home and belongings! In fact, those weren’t it at all.
It was an insidious question that entered my mind!
What if I offend someone?
What if that business organization reads my political parody or strange reflections on life and parenting or snide news story analysis, and does not want to hire me?
What if my publisher reads a piece where I say a naughty phrase like, “fuck that!” or talk about sex or respond with sarcasm to a reader or blog comment?
What if I lose readers?
Suddenly, “what if?” and what I might theoretically lose became a filter. A rather large and difficult filter to get past.
I hate that fucking filter!!! I hate how fearful I’ve become. It’s not me! It is crippling!
This past year I’ve become a little braver. I’ve become braver because I am watching a few people who help make me brave!
People who make me brave!
My oldest daughter and her blog. It seems she doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. In fact, all my kids are unconventional and spend much of their time giving the world the finger and passionately advocating their cause of choice. A bunch of hippy activists! I’m proud of that.
And my readers, mentors, coaches, and those I coach! They tell me to write what I want to write when I want to write it. They tell me to “be real!”
But often, I’m still afraid. And that’s fucked up!
What about you?