In college, I wanted to be seen as a prodigy...
I devoured books on everything from organizational behavior to business philosophy—desperately trying to shape myself into the perfect, business-savvy android: a woman who could really give the old boys club a run for their money. In my mind, having the grades, the experience, and the ambition was enough. More than enough. Companies would line up after graduation, vying to offer me entry-level positions to launch my professional career. My hard work would pay off.
And then I found myself caught in the headlights of reality.
It took me a while to bounce back from that.
Living in a small town didn’t afford me many opportunities and, for a while, I thought that was my problem. The truth was, I’d lost my competitive spark and no mindless, part-time gig was going to replace it. I couldn’t put myself out there again, if I was only going to end up frustrated and embarrassed. No. I was ready to accept mediocrity and the safety it promised.
That is, until I found writing.
It was something I hadn’t dabbled in for years—something I hadn’t made time for. Now that I actually had the time, it was daunting. Could I chase down the few, idle storylines that lingered? Would I still enjoy making up stories? The answer, of course, was yes.
In between applications and freelance work, I wrote constantly. I’d always been creatively minded—drawing, performing, and painting—but this was different. This, I couldn’t get enough of. It was the most free I'd felt in years.
After a while, I toyed with the notion of sharing my work. It meant putting myself out there again, but, for some reason, it wasn’t nearly as scary as it should have been. I wanted people to read my stories. I wanted to know what they thought about them and how they made them feel. With that in mind, I swallowed my nerves and posted a few things online.
The response was overwhelming. Strangers from all over the world offered constructive criticism and advice, encouragement and praise. It was amazing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those people—people I’ll probably never even meet—helped rebuild my confidence, one brick at a time.
(I’ve since pulled all of my online writing practices. My style has changed so much from those early days!)
It was during that period that I became more involved with volunteer work, joining up with a few non-profits. Now, that might not seem especially pertinent to this story, but do you know what happened? It changed me. Interacting with my community made me realize I didn’t want to be a high-powered business android anymore. I just wanted to be Carrie. If that involved business endeavors, so be it, but I was going to do it my way.
For the most part, you know the rest of this story. I became interested in pursuing writing as a serious career and decided that, this time, I was going to make my dream happen. I've thrown myself into my work and I love it. :)
Four things I try to do every day:
(I know, I know. Old habits die hard.)
(My manuscript is in its final stages of editing.)
(...With all of you awesome people. ♥)
(I'm building my online presence, using the marketing skills I've acquired over the years.)
Speaking of which...
You know all those business-ish books I talked about? Some of my favorites were written by a guy named Seth Godin. You know him, right? The bestselling author/marketing maven? I thought it'd be appropriate to share a little bit of his advice, now that we’re on the topic. :)
In this video, Seth sits down with Dan Cathy (President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A) to share a few, quick points about writer’s block, fear, and putting yourself out there.
(Don't worry. It's less than five minutes.)
I'll accept rejection, but I'll never accept defeat. ♥