I’ve never thought of myself as a risk-taker. In fact, I’m much more of a worrier, someone who’s often too cautious. I tried skiing once but that was enough. Strapping two wooden sticks to my feet so I can careen down a mountain strikes me as crazy. It was years before I drove my husband’s pick-up truck, and then only because I was forced to drive it. My car was in the garage and I had to get to work. You can forget about me ever jumping out of a plane with nothing but a sheet to slow my fall. Yet, I realize I take risks every day with my writing.
Every word I type puts me out there for others to see. Even if I never send a single manuscript for publication, there’s a good chance one day my children will read them. And every time I do send one of my stories to an editor or agent I risk being rejected. Some will do so kindly, some will use a form rejection that leaves me wondering if they even bothered to read my work, and some won’t respond at all.
I also share my writing with my peers. I’ve belonged to several critique groups over the years and if I want honest feedback, and I do, then sometimes I have to hear some not so glowing comments.
One day I hope to publish novels and, just because my publisher likes them, and just because some other people like them, it doesn’t mean everyone is going to like them. I expect I will have reviews on sites like Amazon that range from five stars to one.
So, why do I put myself though this over and over? Why do I spend so much of my time creating worlds and characters on paper when more often than not I will face some form of rejection? You got me! I frequently wonder myself. Perhaps I am a risk-taker at heart.
You see, I can’t help myself. I need to write just like I need to breathe and eat and sleep. When I don’t write for a while I feel lost and the voices in my head begin to pester me ever louder, insisting I put their stories on paper. So I keep writing and I keep sharing my stories with others and I keep pushing aside the rejections while paying attention to the successes. Some of you may never understand, but I know many of you will. Replace my need to write with your need to quilt or paint. Perhaps you’re never happier than when you’re in the woods or out on the lake, even if you don’t get off a single shot or hook a single fish. And, yes, I understand that some of you probably think skiing is exhilarating and can’t wait for winter, even though you know you might spend more time picking yourself up than successfully completing a run. And one of these times you’re going to break something other than a ski or the cell phone in your pocket.
We are all risk-takers in some form or another. Embrace it. Accept it. Own it.