Finding the Courage

Finding courage to face the unknown, to take a chance, can be excruciatingly difficult. It seems I find myself at a crossroads right now in my life.

Do I have the courage to take a step? One simple step. In my reluctance to move forward I think I might have actually taken about 10 steps back. Circled around that very thing I want to do, analyzing it from every side. On my hands and knees, peering at its underbelly. On tiptoe peeking at the very top of it. And found a million reasons that I’m not ready to move forward.

And now I’m tormented by this project.  It taunts me day and night. “I’m here,” it says. “Maybe the most intense, powerful piece you’ll ever write,” it teases.

“Or the worst,” I groan. “Maybe I’m not up to the project,” I add agonizing as I curl up, hiding under the covers. But the simple reality is that I can’t ignore it.

This concept came to me well over 3 years ago and has danced on the perimeter of my brain ever since. Little snippets sing to me in the shower. Of course – no pen and paper there! And while I’m driving, I have a flash of clarity. An entire conversation writes itself in my mind, but there’s no place to pull over. By the next stoplight the words fade and I berate myself the rest of the drive that I couldn’t remember them for a mere 10 minutes.

The greatest story never written.

And maybe the worst story ever conceived? Maybe this is my self-defense, my salvation from ridicule? I can’t know until I take the first step. And the next. And the next. Baby steps would even work. At least they would be moving me forward even if I was unsteady on my feet, teetering and tottering drunkenly forward. I have support to hold on to, to help steady me and guide me towards really walking. Then sprinting. Running full speed, head-first arms flaying towards the finish line.

So, why the fear? Failure. A feeling I’m not completely accustomed to and want to avoid at any cost. But, avoiding failure – doesn’t that mean I avoid real success as well? Float along in a sea of mediocrity? Just good enough to stay afloat but never discovering the new land filled with exotic sights and smells lurking in the mist?

“Set sail for the high seas!” My characters taunt me, begging to be brought alive. Writing the story isn’t about me. It is about them. They plead again for life. And I realize that my sanity hinges on setting them free. Today. One step. One simple small step.



  1. This is a great piece. You capture the essence of writers fear oh, so well.


  2. You’ve said almost everything I’ve felt for most of my life. I like to ‘sidle up’ to projects and flirt, then I find that they’re not deserving of me and my ‘talents’. You know fear of failure and the other attractive things you mention don’t bother me, it’s the isolation and people looking at me as if I’ve left the planet. Fortunately I have good friends and sisters who’ve always encouraged me, so ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’. Trite yes I know.
    Thank you for saying it the way I’d like to say it.

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