Go Forward... It's not as easy as it sounds. For some it means putting down a manuscript we've revised (until even we're sick of our characters) and beginning something new. For others it means stepping out of the familiar (for example changing from the historical to the contemporary genre or visa versa). For all of us there is nothing simple about moving ahead because it means facing both our fears and the unknown. Facing reaction (reader, reviewer or critique), rejection or failure.
Go Forward... I've never given much thought to the concept, rather I've always just taken a deep breath and plowed ahead. Recently, I heard a wise man speak. He was talking about the Jewish Exodus out of Egypt (this article is not about religious belief, so bear with me please!), and how the Red Sea never would have parted if the people hadn't had the courage to move forward. He went on to equate the situation to a young girl's experience -- how hard it was for her to make friends and how ingenuous she was in accomplishing her goal. In moving forward and not sitting by herself. Having two daughters, my ears perked up and I began listening attentively. But the funny thing is, I found myself relating his thoughts and feelings on the subject, not to my daughters, but to myself and my craft. I'm shy by nature. My feelings are easily hurt and I'm more comfortable in front of the computer than an audience. And yet in the last eight years, I've amazed myself. I walked into a stranger's house and was embraced by the members of HVRWA. I wrote over ten completed manuscripts, had them all rejected (I can't count how many times) and I sat through editor appointments where I nearly cried from fear. And then the miraculous occurred.
Go Forward... In the last almost three years I've sold fifteen books and two anthologies (let's not discuss how many of those still have to be written!) and I've spoken in front of an audience at RWA conferences. I can't say if I've done those speaking engagements well, but I've accomplished them and I'm proud. I wish I could say I've conquered all my fears. I haven't. I still want to be sick each time I face an audience and every time a review comes in. And let'snot mention the times I sit in front of a blank screen, deadline looming and words won't come. But I plow forward. Why? Because I know I couldn't have met my personal goals or desires if I'd languished on that first manuscript. Or if I'd given up in the face of rejection or difficulty.
Go Forward... Being a writer and a sensitive one at that, (is there any other kind?) I know there are many more bumps ahead. Many more failures and rejections to be had. But in my heart, the place where hope springs eternal (sorry for the clich?, folks) I have more goals to be met and I know I can't rise to the challenge if I sit and stare at a blank screen. If I stay home where it's safe and secure instead of attending a conference. Or if I'm too afraid to ask for what I want. Editors may say no thank you, audiences may laugh, a friend I thought was true-blue may turn out not to be the person I'd hoped. BUT my heart tells me there's a reason for every failure (besides making me stronger!) and for every brick wall I hit, there may be something far better down the road. If I don't move forward, I'll never know.
And neither will you. Go Forward. You won't regret it.