Friday, March 28, 2014

Sink or swim

I have always been a writer. It's been my desire as far as back as I can remember reading. I remember getting lost between the pages of a book, becoming the main character, living their life, feeling their pain, their joy, their sadness. I knew from the first time I ever cried or laughed aloud while reading that I wanted to do the same thing that author did; move people with words, take them places, give them hope, and close a book with a satisfied sigh.

However, wanting to be something is not the same thing as actually being it. It's a bit like me wishing to be 120lbs. I can wish it, but the reality is I'm *ahem* not. Of course, it doesn't mean you can't be, but it does mean it's going to take work. And lots of it. It's going to require perseverance, effort, and discipline.

It's also a bit like learning to swim. You can dream about it, imagine it, and even "dry-ground" practice it. But until you step into the water deep enough and submerge yourself, you won't hone those skills. You might even be a "natural," but even a skill that comes naturally requires diligent attention and continuing education.

 My son's death was the springboard for my jump into the world of the writing industry. It was sink or swim. If I was going to be a published author, then I needed to dive off the "board of wishing." No more standing at the edge of the board. We all know what that does. It simply gives fear time to grow. I would either sink or learn to swim in the sea of the writing world.

I believe I'm learning to swim. Admittedly, there have been moments of panic, to be sure, and times of flailing about. But here's the secret I've learned. Fear is simply a shadow. It has no substance, and it cannot live with faith. Faith suffocates fear. It drowns it.

By faith, I jumped off the board and fell smack into the deep end. I came up gasping for air, but quickly realized that, while the surroundings were unfamiliar, I was in a big, beautiful blue sea. One stroke at a time is how it's done.

It's hard to believe, but I'm swimming. It started with first sharing my work with others, asking complete strangers to read it and give me honest feedback. The next stroke was finding and attending a writer's conference. Then, joining a critique group followed. After that, a few strokes sent me to deeper water where I found SCBWI and subsequently joined the scbwi Blueboard (message board). Carried along by a wave, I had great fun participating in #PitMad via Twitter this week, too.

This swimming writing thing takes a great deal of endurance and patience. Early on, I learned the hard way that getting ahead of myself was a bad idea and, consequently, I'm learning to pace myself. Ultimately, I believe that if it's God's will, it will happen, in His time and His way. In the meantime, I just keep swimming.

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