Save for a handful of spectacularly notable exceptions, I was never one to just jump into a body of water. I preferred to wade. It didn’t matter if it was a pool, a lake, a river, or the ocean, I always liked to take my time and let the water inch up as I moved further and further from shore.
When it comes to life experiences, however, I tend to favour the opposite approach. When I try a new thing, I generally don’t dip my toe in, try something out casually, and then decide it’s for me. For example, after maybe one trip to Lloyd’s roller rink after seeing ‘Whip It’, I decided to “put on some skates and be [my] own hero.” It led to the first of two aborted attempts to throw myself into roller derby. I didn’t watch some games or research the sport before deciding that it was for me. I saw it and said “Yeah, I’m doing that.”
(Ask most of my friends and they will tell you that not only do I throw myself in, I pull other people in with me. I am the “Instigator Friend”.)
Writing is the exception to my ‘jump right in’ philosophy of hobbies and activities. I’ve been doing it since I could hold a pencil. Over my lifetime, I’ve flirted with pursuing my passion, with college classes, (rejected) publication submissions, piles of ‘transformative works’, and stints as a writer for Sweet Lemon Magazine and a contributor for Nerd HQ, but I’ve never really jumped in and committed to making it happen for myself, because I rarely believe my work is good enough or ‘ready’ for consumption.
Yesterday, I changed that. I jumped in. I took a story I wrote when I was nineteen and revised it, for the first time ever, because at nineteen I wasn’t ready to take my peers’ criticisms or do the workshopping necessary to make my stories better. After I revised it, I submitted it to a short story contest. I won’t say which, since, if I do hear back, it won’t be for a good, long while, but I did it. That’s the important part. I uploaded it to Submittable and I hit ‘submit’. I achieved my goal of submitting work for publication.
It was terrifying. I kept thinking about the last time I submitted a story for consideration and the form rejection letter I received in return. Nineteen year old me was heartbroken by it. What writer isn’t at least a little heartbroken by their first rejection, though? I let that heartbreak dry up the ink in my pen for over a decade. I’m proud of myself for submitting my story, even though I was scared, because it meant that I wasn’t allowing that rejection letter to have power over me anymore.
It meant that I was finally jumping in.
(The water’s great, by the way.)