Thursday, April 19, 2012

The places you have come to fear the most.

I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. 
When I graduated college last May, I decided not to pursue employment, but to focus instead on my dream of writing and publishing a novel.
I expected it to be exciting, challenging and frustrating. 
I knew I would face rejection.
Lots of rejection.
But what I didn't expect to face was doubt in my decision and in my own self-worth.
Don't get me wrong - I believe I possess many worthy qualities.
I think I'm kind, creative, funny, interesting, smart and driven.
But sometimes -
when someone asks me where I work and I have to tell them that, technically, I'm unemployed,
or as I watch my friends begin their responsible, adult careers
or see Ryan leave for work each day while I stay at home, making up stories
- I start thinking about how I'm perceived by the rest of the world.
And I think about how I perceive myself.
Ten or twenty years from now,
will I be proud of the risk I'm taking in trying to "make it" as a writer,
or will I wish I'd gotten a full-time job with my English degree?
As much as I care about the opinions of other people (I care too much)
I think I can tolerate disappointing others.
What I'm deeply afraid of is feeling like I've failed myself.
Because how exactly do you measure success?
 I dedicate hours each day to my writing,
but if my writing never reaches another person's eyes, is that success?
If I never make a cent off of my stories,
will I feel like it was worthwhile to spend my life writing them?
I'm torn.
Lately, I've been struggling to articulate what it is that I want out of my life, professionally.
I know I want to contribute something meaningful to the world.
I want people to read my stories and to learn something from them.
But I have difficulty pinpointing my specific goals.
Would publishing one novel be enough for me to consider myself successful?
Would it matter to me how many people read it?
What if my work is never strong enough to be published at all?
I'm not sure what I want to achieve, specifically,
but I do know I want to play a part in the literary world.

I started writing this post two days ago, after being rejected by two graduate programs and accepted by one whose tuition was so expensive I knew I wouldn't be able to attend.
Yesterday I found out that
I've been accepted into the MFA Creative Writing program at
Antioch University Los Angeles.
Not only am I thrilled to be able to further my education and to work with other writers,
but I feel so reassured knowing that there are other people in this field
 who think my fiction is promising.
It came as a boost of confidence when I was wallowing in self-doubt.

Of course, I still have fears regarding my career path.
I'm terrified to be spending thousands of dollars on an education that
won't guarantee I get a job or get published.
I'm scared that by going to graduate school, I may be selfishly pushing back our dreams of
buying our own home and of starting a family.
Though he whole-heartedly supports my decision to be a writer and to attend grad school,
I'm afraid I'm putting too much pressure on Ryan by relying on him to be the sole provider
for us in this very expensive new state.
But new journeys are always scary, right?
And if I'm really committed to following my dream of becoming an author and a
professor of creative writing, this is a journey I need to embark upon,
no matter how scared I am.
I'm sure it will be awhile before I stop wondering if pursuing my writing was the right decision.
And I'm positive I'm going to experience many more rejections before I get published.
But writing is where I feel most in my element.
It's what makes me happy.
I think Joseph Campbell said it best in my favorite quote:

Follow your bliss.


  1. I admire your ambition and conviction for writing. It is completely understandable to have moments of uncertainty and self-doubt when you are a 'struggling artist' - not that I have any experience to draw from. You see, I took the safe route. The full-time job after college working in an office 9-5. But I have moments all the time of self-doubt because I wonder if I shouldn't have taken more time after college to chase my dreams, do something ambitious, find the job that doesn't feel like a job because I love it so much. I applaud you for taking this time to do just that. You are young and have time now to explore your options and see where this gift of writing takes you!

  2. Oh and I also applaud you for using a Dashboard Confessionals song as your post title. :)

  3. I understand your self-doubt and I also know that right now, if you were sitting at a desk doing the 9-5, you would be asking the same exact questions. I'm lucky that I got a job where I can use my English degree daily, but I want to be at home, developing the characters in my head who have become a part of me, rather than sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day writing business proposals. But at the end of the day, I feel blessed.

    My hope is that one day I will be able to do what you are doing. My fiancé and I have decided that I need to work for a few years until we get settled.

    I admire your courage to not simply follow the expected route in life. You took a risk and I believe you'll benefit from it. Self-doubt will always plague you because in this life we are given choices (usually). But if your man is standing by your side do you really need anything else?

    I wish you the best of luck with your writing!

  4. My boyfriend is an English major, and we've talked about so many of the same concerns.
    They're important things to think about, but most of it is quite subjective. If you love what you are doing, if it makes you happy...I think those are the most important things. And it's so fantastic to have a supportive partner by your side.
    I also think it's good to surround yourself with people who are doing similar things, and who can relate to the questions you have- but you'll be doing that in grad school.
    I think great things are in your future : )

  5. "What I'm deeply afraid of is feeling like I've failed myself."

    I know this very well. Such an honestly written fear that so many of us have I think.

    I could be wrong, but I don't think you will look back and regret pursuing this. Of spending hours writing and going after this dream and desire of who you are and what you know you want to do.

    I'm the same but different. Writing is my biggest passion and I badly want to pursue it like you are doing now, yet I have to work and pay bills and do things every day that are so uninspiring.

    Embrace your fear. Because it sounds like being an author and contributing your stories to the world, is something that you were born to do. All of this spoken from one scared hopeful writer to another!

    "If you find yourself asking yourself, Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist? Chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self confident. The real one is scared to death." - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

  6. First of all: Congratulations! :)
    I admire you for your decision and I am sure you will succeed. I love the way you write! I am sure it was a hard decision because there are so many unknown things. It must be scary too. But I am sure that you can make it as a writer! I am thinking of you!
    By the way, your blog is lovely! I am your newest reader!

  7. Congratulations!!! Rejection, even if you are well prepared for it in your mind, still burns like crazy.

    You will do great things with your career, whatever path you decide to take.

    I applaud you for sticking to your guts and being an author. Not everyone can put their soul into their writing.


  8. Congrats on getting accepted! I sometimes feel the same way about measuring my worth when I see my friends with their jobs and my husband going to class, I was working on my degree in my senior year when I found out I was pregnant. Long story short my then boyfriend and love of my life and I are now married with a beautiful baby boy and although I was terrified of the path I chose I can now say I have never been more proud of myself and what I have done with my life. You will end up where you are supposed to be :) congrats again:)
    Brooke @ what2wear,

  9. Congratulations!

    I think you're doing exactly what you should be. It takes a while to become successful, and you're on the right track!

  10. Congratulations! I love the quote you ended the post with, "Follow your bliss." Just make sure to always do what makes you happy and the rest will fall in to place. You will live a far more fulfilling life by following your dreams and pursuing a career as a writer than you ever would by taking a "regular" job. Do not give in to the temptation of security which society has taught comes from a 9-5 job-- this will lead to being dissatisfied and ultimately unhappy. You have a strong support group and an encouraging husband. So go get em!!

  11. This is the first time that I've visited your blog and I already admire your passion & ambition! Those are two of my favorite qualities in people and I think that it's incredible that you are pursuing you dream...don't ever relent girl!

    Happy to be a new follower :)

  12. If I could just show you my face, you would see just how much I am smiling.. I dare say beaming.

    It takes courage to pursue your greatest dream, it's easy to work a 9-5, but to pursue that one wild dream.. oh it gets me. I have so much to learn from you, thank you for teaching me.

    It's like my best friend who has a college degree, and the freedom to work wherever, and yet she now paints and takes photos.. now.. living her dream. one day I will, if I keep getting blown away by your world, I will.

  13. Jat found your blog and it is so cute! Congrats on getting accepted. There is nothing better than learning about what you are passionate. Best of luck!

  14. Congrats on the acceptance.
    Your writing does have worth,
    and YOU are worth it!

    You don't want to look back and think of what could have been--
    go out there and LIVE it!

    You have success in your future- I know it!


  15. You can do it! As a writer myself, it'll happen when it's supposed to happen. Congratulations on your acceptance into the program! That's wonderful news :)

  16. Well, after reading this post it reminded me of so many feeling I had when I was in a similar position as yourself.

    During the first semester of my senior year I did all my research and applied to 2 schools.

    I got rejected by one school and accepted by the other. The school I was accepted to also offered me a TA-ship (teacher's assistant)... meaning I would tutor for the school and teach comp 1 and comp 2...
    Man I was PSYCHED. I had decided to go to graduate school and become a creative writing professor during my 2nd year in college.

    I got there and I enjoyed the teaching aspect of the whole situation more than I could have ever imagined. I decided to drop out (crazy right?) and go to grad school for Secondary Education. I felt like I needed to stop paying so much money for my audience and spend my time working toward something I enjoyed equally (teaching English and helping people).

    I can't say that I regret going to grad school for my MFA originally,but sometimes I regret leaving grad school. I miss writing. I miss it so much sometimes that I get depressed. The 9-5 work days, my now graduate program, interning, homework... all of this leaves no time for putting the pen to the page.

    Maybe you are delaying plans with your husband, but isn't what you're doing now, and how your living now always the plan?

    Stop worrying about disappointing yourself! And revel in the fact that you have the most amazing opportunity to devote time to your greatest passion.

    Trust me I plan to write, and be published, but what I am doing now, and how I am living now is what will lead me to that point in the future.

    And seriously, congrats, you should be SO PROUD of yourself.

  17. i think we all feel these feelings once in a while, regardless of the career we have. its awesome for you to open up about it. if you ever need someone to read part of what you're writing, im sure many of us would love to. i would definitely. i cant seem to find a good book recently, its so frustrating!!
    amber Easy Petite Looks

  18. so beautifully written!! congratulations on this new journey. so glad you stopped by my blog...i just cracked up reading your blog absolutely true...if i could just figure out that crazy brain of theirs.

  19. sorry, pressed enter by accident. So, I was going to say is that I randomly stumbled upon your blog on day a few months ago. I love it so much. In fact each day, after I accomplish something I reward myself by reading your blog. I am a student and currently in exams write now so after a long day of studying I love coming home and sitting down to read and enjoy your blog for a few minutes. You are extremely talented and I know that one day all your hard work will pay off.

  20. you're inspiring! don't look back and remember to dream big :)
    xoxo, great little day

  21. Hi there, I found your blog when you left a comment on my blog to my daughter. Let me say, that writing isn't something you can achieve. You either have it or you don't. Of course you can go to school for it and try, but good writers, they are born with that skill. You my dear, were born with it, go after it. I have never been to college. I wanted to go for screen writing or directing but never did. Now, I am writing because I love to. Im guessing you do to. Congrats on MFA! I am now following you. Come stop by my personal blog sometime...

    Glad to have met you!

  22. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I too graduated in May, and I think everyone feels those same fears out of college... do I choose a quick job over my dreams? what are my dreams? how will i get there... ya get my drift haha. However, I too decided to pursue my creative dreams. I love interior design, writing, and fashion... so I started a blog and am working for a design company. I believe that if you pursue what you love, there is no room for regret... and 20 years from now you will be right where you need to be in your dream career because you decided to pursue NOW! All is takes is 100% belief in yourself, confidence, and determination... and whallah.. your dream will come true :) I look forward to reading more and think your a wonderful writer... and another brave soul for pursuing what you LOVE! you go get em girl! x0x0
    The Golden Girls

  23. yea for you!! congrats on your acceptance...and how exciting! i am still in the dreaming about writing stages...
    i am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

  24. Girl, I just stopped in to say hello since you've been leaving me such nice comments lately, and I was blown away by this... I totally relate. I think each and every writer goes through this, but you absolutely must believe in yourself and not be intimidated by other writers out there. (I need to take my own advice on this one) You were given a gift, and I can tell from just one post! Make it happen girl! Follow that bliss. :)

    PS- you're adorable!

  25. I'm really kind of glad I came across your blog. I typed a blog indentical and I mean IDENTICAL to this the other day and just saved it as a draft because I guess I was too ashamed to post it. But knowing that someone else (especially with a husband who works hard) is struggling with the same thing I am is encouraging. I want to follow my dreams but right now my dreams aren't taking me far. And they may not for a while. Or ever. It's scary! But I totally get you and totally support you! Love your blog and I will definitely be following.

    PS. When you do write a book (because you totally will) I'll definitely buy it! =)

    Your newest follower, Stephanie!

  26. CONGRATS! I totally understand the fears and anxieties you've gone through, though. I've wanted to write for as long as I can remember, and although recently I've been also considering working towards yet another passion (international human rights), writing fiction has just always been one of my "things" .. but as an English major I can't tell you how many times I've been told that's not a real job, or a dependable way of making an income, or a good major, etc. etc. BUT, I say.... push all of that aside and pursue what makes you happy and what you love! In the end, that's all that really matters.

  27. Wow, I love the conviction and emotion and dedication you have to your craft...I hope you do really, really well at Antioch...congratulations! I'm also a writer (poetry mainly) and have struggled through many of the same I feel you :)

    <3 Cambria

  28. love me some dashboard! ok, that is AWESOME you got accepted. i am wishing so badly I would have done creative writing and i went with a 'safer' route of teaching, and I regret it- go girl! live your dreams! cant wait to read more about it :)

  29. AH! Congratulations! I am soooo happy for you! No one deserves this more than YOU DO!

  30. Boy am I in a similar situation! I graduated with my BA in English almost four years ago, and due to moving around with Will and his Army career- I am still serving/bartending. I'm ok with that for now, but I honestly don't know where I want to go from here. He is supportive of whatever I decide, and he tells me that I just need to go ahead and get published. I'm definitely not in a hurry to make a decision, but would love to stumble upon some direction soon!

  31. try not to compare yourself to others. everyone has a different path and that's ok, that's good even! if you want to be an author, then do everything you can to be an author.


This is the part where you tell the pups how cute they are.
...but seriously, thank you so much for stopping by and for your wonderful comment! I read them all and try to respond as often as I can. We hope you visit again soon :)