“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” Anaïs Nin
There are many people in my life that I admire. Lisa, for choosing to be a global wanderer; there are many sacrifices that go into the seeming romance of extended travel. Rebecca, for following her writing passion to blogging and even book publishing, while raising a two young boys. Kristie, for maintaining her love of diving, skiing, camping and all things outdoors and introducing her kids to it in an age of helicopter, cotton wool parenting. Mandie for refusing to get sucked into the downward spiral of her circumstances and fighting to turn her life around. You don’t know these people. They aren’t famous. They’re just people. You. Me. Anyone.
I think they’re fantastic, though, because I see the way they run toward life. I admire them because they keep doing all the scary things they need, to lead the life they want to live. Forget the Avengers or Justice League. These women are my heroes.
It’s scary to pursue what you really want in life. From the social media highlights, we imagine other people poop out success as naturally as we… you know. It’s easy to imagine that great lives drop fully formed into the laps of the lucky and even that it’s relentlessly great. We wonder, why can’t it be me? What do they have, that I don’t? The answer is nothing, probably. Only the courage to make the kind of decisions that expand and steer their lives. They’re not easy choices. Often they’re tough and terrifying risks.
Dreaming is easy. Dreams require no vulnerability or risk. I dream of being a novelist. I have since I was a child. Have I become one? No. Reality is a hot mess of what if I can’t? What if I’m not good enough? What if they laugh at me? What if it’s terrible? What if I’m deluded? What if, after all my hype, I totally and utterly tank? The only reason I haven’t done it, is because it’s totally and utterly terrifying to me.
I read an article the other day that focused on what life was really like for JK Rowling to write the Harry Potter series. Knowing that one of the most celebrated authors of our time had dumb ideas that other people fixed, doubted herself, struggled, drank, suffered hardships and kept going, was an absolute epiphany.
So, like my heroes, I’ve decided to summon the courage to expand my life, take the risk and do the thing anyway. From January next year, I’m going to access long service leave and stretch it tight at half pay to cover my bills and obligations at home (because the homeless, starving artist is NOT romantic when it’s you). Then I’m going to sequester myself away for four months and face down all my demons. I’ve chosen the icy northern wilds of Wales to be my battlefield. There, in the heart of frozen winter, I’ll stare down all the blocks, the doubts, the worries and most of all, the secret terror that maybe I’m not really the person I want to be. Writer. Author. Novelist. The all-grown-up version of the little girl with entire worlds inside, waiting to be brought to life.
If you’d like to support me, I have set up a Go Fund Me to help bridge the practicalities of creative adventure. I’ll find ways to reward anyone who participates, with your name in the book or a signed, probably vanity, copy at the end. We’ll sort something out!
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”