Out on a Limb

Announcing to the world I had written a novel was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. My kids would verify how I stressed over the decision. My original intention was to use my pen name and never announce this milestone to anyone, to remain anonymous with no actual author pictures or links back to me.

Some of you are probably wondering why I would consider keeping this achievement to myself. To be honest, I’ve spent most of my life overwhelmed with anxiety over what other people thought of me. I invested inordinate amounts of time considering every action, every clothing choice, every word, and more wanting everyone’s acceptance and approval.

As I considered whether to announce Thirteen Scars to friends, family, and my local community, so many questions ran through my mind. What will they think? What if they don’t like it? Will they judge me because of the genre I chose or because of the genres I didn’t choose? If my characters are flawed and imperfect or act in ways they don’t approve of or if my villains are truly vile, will they assume I condone those actions? Will they make assumptions about my character based on fiction?

In the end, it just seemed safer not to take the risk. Putting myself out there to the world anonymously would be easier. I had made my decision—or so I thought. As work progressed on my website and marketing, conversations with my kids and a few very close family and friends changed my mind. I thought about how many times I had refused to allow my picture to be taken, how many activities I was too self-conscious to try, how many opportunities I passed up throughout my life because of worry about the judgements and critiques of others. I wondered if I could be brave enough to step out on a limb and allow myself to be seen.

Now, here I am. I took the risk. My feelings run the gamut of excited, scared, encouraged, nervous, and everything in between, but overall, I’m glad I took a step toward breaking the bondage I had allowed myself to sink into.

Since I announced my book, I’ve been surprised by how many people have told me of their own dreams of writing or trying something new. I think in some ways we all have dreams that we refuse to allow ourselves to believe can become realities. Thirteen Scars was my dream. What’s yours? Trust me, you’re not too old, too young, too overweight, too financially limited, too shy, too busy being a parent/grandparent/caregiver/husband/wife/etc., to have and pursue a dream. Maybe it will happen fast, or maybe it will happen one slow step at a time, but wouldn’t you love to be able to say you at least stepped out on that limb and gave it a try?

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