"What if...?" Those two little words have guided me most of my life. Depending on my mood, the "what ifs" could vary from: what if someone I love died to what if I die to what if there's another world war? The what ifs could go on at nauseam. What if, what if, what if...? Those two powerful words did little but keep me living in fear.
It was no different when I began writing my book THE PLAYLIST. I wrote 50 pages before I told anyone. What if they laughed? What if my book was no good? Even when I began sharing the first few chapters, it was like a covert operation done in complete secrecy. If I failed, I wanted as few people as possible to know. The fear of failure was a powerful force.
Then I was nominated for teacher of the year, and I had to tackle this fear head on. I was not going to apply because I was so sure I was not the kind of teacher to represent Rhode Island. If I didn't apply, then I couldn't fail. Sitting in the room at the Department of Education among dozens of stellar teachers, it was obvious to me I was different. "Maybe we need different," the chairperson whispered to me. As I typed my eighteen-page application, I told myself, "I will not let fear guide me." I was going to be myself, give it my best effort and see how far it would take me.
Based on my application, I made it to the final eight, and after the interviews, I made it to the final six. I was ecstatic to make it to the final four because members from the RI Department of Ed. would come and watch me teach. My classroom is where I could shine. I cried when I heard I made it to the last stage, the final three. Although I was not selected as the RI Teacher of the Year, I knew they had made the right choice. I never slept so soundly as I did the night I found out I hadn't won. There was no part of me that felt like a failure. I had learned so much. The journey was more than enough.
Slowly, I began telling people about this little book I was
writing. When I finished, admitting I was trying to get it published was scary. What if I failed? Would I be ridiculed, laughed at, talked about behind my back? Maybe... but I needed to speak my truth. I wanted to share my journey regardless of the outcome. I knew whether or not I landed a publishing deal did not determine my success or failure.
I wanted to scream from the rooftops when an agent was interested in my manuscript, but I also had to share when she passed. Just this past week I received an email from a second agent, but I don't have any news yet. I can't wait for the day when I hear, "I'd love to represent you", but until then, I believe the signs are showing me I'm heading in the right direction.
For the first time in my life, I am not guided by fear. This road will be filled with many rejections, but I don't quit that easily. I love my book, but I especially love the journey I took while writing it. If I never secure an agent, which is a strong possibility, I'll self-publish. I will share my book with anyone who wants to read it and talk endlessly with my friends and family about my characters and their journeys. How can that be a failure?