On the Brink of Disaster or Triumph or Someplace in Between

Monday, August 12, 2013

What's it like to be on the edge of something big? I wish I knew, & sometimes I even think that I do, that that time might be now. I can feel it in my bones, swelling up against the skin; I can feel it in my blood, bubbling up & pushing at my insides. It feels close, just out of reach, just beyond understanding, too far to be tangible, too close to be denied. What is it, & how do I get it out of me?

And then I think there's no such thing as "the edge of something big." You're either working on something big, making it happen, or you're not, & the truth is that I'm not.

I don't write anyplace except this blog because I don't know where to go. I learned how to craft story pitches to magazines while in college for, hey, magazine journalism - but I've long since forgotten how to do it, & even if I remembered, I don't know what I'd be qualified to write about anymore. My style has evolved, too, & I'm no longer a reporter, far from the days of being a cut-&-dry, nothing-but-the-facts-ma'am editor-type. I don't know what I'd write or if it would work or who would take it, & the thought of taking on all of that? Seems exhausting before I've gotten any further than just the thought of it.

There are other problems, too, other traditional excuses that became cliche only because they're all too true for far too many people. The big one is that I spend so much time working - so much time - & I spend the rest of the time trying to relax, trying to unwind, trying to walk away from the computer because all I ever do for work is sit in front of it & type, & type, & type. And type. When I'm not doing all that typing, I want to be traveling or spending time with my boyfriend or, hell, just watching some crappy reality TV - anything that doesn't involve a computer screen, furthering a continually worsening case of tendonitis &/or carpal tunnel.

And, of course, there's the biggest problem: that I'm scared. That one trumps them all, I suppose, because if I weren't scared, maybe I'd make the time or put in the effort to figure out how & what to write. But I'm scared, & it's paralyzing. I'm scared of rejection, I'm scared of working really hard & having no victories to show for it. I'm scared of revving up my forever-lurking anxiety issues, of having to send emails that sound needy or making phone calls to people I don't know to try to plead my case in a way that sounds professional & trustworthy instead of just desperate & full of "pick me!" undertones. I'm scared of hearing "no," scared of being told I suck, scared of being turned down by every editor under the sun, over & over & over, forever.

I'm scared of writing things that upset people, of telling the truth in the only way I'm really comfortable speaking, & of those I love responding negatively to the things it turns out that I have to say. I'm scared of being vulnerable, scared of "putting myself out there," as they say, simultaneously scared of too much rejection & too much success, because, hey, are they mutually exclusive? What if I actually do really well, & people hate me for it? That's worse, in some ways, than failing really hard, because everyone secretly sort of hates a person who goes for what she wants & actually, God forbid, achieves it. And if you think that statement is untrue, you're a better person than I am - but maybe I'm just jealous of all the people who are doing what I have thus far found myself unable to.

"Do one thing every day that scares you," Eleanor Roosevelt once said, & I do. I do things that scare me every single day, but the truth is that I'm always scared, so it's sort of a low bar. The problem is that I'm not doing things that are scary enough. I'm doing the scary little things, & I settle there, & these days, that's started to feel like it's just not enough for me. It's time to do more, dream bigger, live scarier.

But when you're scared of everything, where do you even begin?

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