i'm afraid to try and i don't know why: office hours no. 1
I hear you. And I'm listening. When readers sign up for my newsletter, the monthly notebook, I send a little welcome email. Inside, I ask them to tell me what their superpower is, and what they're working on at the moment. Not everyone replies to the email, of course, but the ones who do have a running theme: I'm stuck in this mental place and I don't know how to get out of it.
I answer as many emails as I can (sometimes it takes me a bit longer than usual), and I'm always thrilled at what wonderful people all of you are...there are professors and chefs and writers and artists and psychics and retirees and manicurists and an honest-to-goodness cowgirl among you. And everyone asks me the same thing: how did you get to be so brave? How do you put it all out there?
The answer is, I'm not any braver than you.
I'm just as scared as you are.
But I don't let it stop me. I don't know everything, and I'm not afraid of admitting it. I try because the alternative is not trying, and I've done that already. I press "publish" and immediately wonder if I've said too much or said it badly. I wonder that a lot.
I read emails that tell me I'm wonderful and I don't believe a word of it. I read emails that tell me I'm a joke and I believe every syllable. I wonder if I'm as good as people say, or if I'm as bad as I believe.
But I do it all anyway. I resolve to do the very best I can at this particular moment. I look back at some old work I've done and cringe. But I know I didn't half-ass any of it. That was a snapshot of who I was at that particular moment.
I've sent newsletters with the wrong date or photo. I've posted poems with spelling errors. I published a book that I didn't realize had major formatting issues until it was too late...resulting in a crazed weekend of reformatting/resubmitting and lots of tears. I've had people read my poetry and laugh.
I've sent newsletters where readers hit reply and tell me I'm their favorite part of their Sunday afternoons. I've posted little poems with a lot of heart. I published a book that a reader, in the middle of reading it, stopped and sent me an email to say she felt as if I knew her and the inside of her heart. I had people read my poetry and cry because it touched their soul.
And I do it all, anyway. Not knowing what I'll get back in return. Because I'm not just doing this for me. I'm doing it for the cowgirl and the professor and the manicurist and the psychic and the writers and the artists and the retirees. I do it for all of you so that you know you can do it, too.
Because I know this life isn't forever. It's for now. And I want our lives to be as full of promise as possible.
Join me, when you're ready.