Dreams and Risk

I used to think when people talked about taking risks in order to follow your dreams, they mainly meant the financial aspect of risk. I think that might be largely true, but as I’ve recently been following my dreams, I’ve discovered the risks aren’t always financial.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for literally longer than I can remember. Writing is that thing that gives me the most fulfillment. When I wake up in the morning, I think about being a writer. Likewise, when I go to sleep at night, I usually drift off dreaming about it. Even though it seems like I’m being melodramatic, I’m actually being completely serious!

Many of you know that I’ve recently been published in a magazine. It’s really quite awesome, and I think the relationship with Linux Journal might grow into something more. (I can’t really discuss details, but it’s pretty exciting stuff) I’m also trying to write at least a first draft of a fiction novel this winter. Needless to say, I’ve started down that scary road of dream fulfillment.

Here’s the part that threw me for a loop: The failure I’m worried about has nothing to do with finances. I’m not quitting my day job, and if I never make another penny writing, it won’t matter a whole lot to my family financially. We’re fine. However, if I write a book, and it sucks — then what?!?! The risk is that my dreams will crumble. I never realized just how significant that would be to me. See, a dream is exciting, but a reality is, well, pretty real. If I never try, the dream stays intact, but if I go for it, the dream might just fall apart.

The encouraging thing is that it turns out I’m actually a decent word-putter-togetherer. There is still the risk of failure, but I finally see that following any dream takes courage — because the risk of failure is always there! In my case, it’s not financial failure, but a crushed dream is almost harder to stomach than losing a job.

What a scary and exciting time in my life. Thanks for sharing it with me.

4 thoughts on “Dreams and Risk

  1. Hey – I found your site through Whateveresque. 🙂

    I, too, am trying Nanowrimo for the first time this year, and I’m definitely facing some of the same fears! I’m a solid business writer – even majored in tech writing in college, although I don’t do it for a living. I *think* I would love to write – but what if it’s painful? What if I suck? What if I have no stories to tell?

    I’m trying to smack down my inner perfectionist and do this as a step in the learning process – a way to get 50K of my “words of suck” written down.

    Best wishes to you with your effort!

  2. Thanks, Jeri. I didn’t mention in the post, but I too worry that I might run out of stuff to write! It sounds dumb, and it rarely happens in real life, but what if I just don’t have anything interesting to say!?!?

    Unfortunately, NaNoWriMo happens at a pretty busy time for me, but I’m committed to doing it regardless. I just HAVE to get over myself and start writing fiction.

  3. Go for it man.

    Crash and burn and end in a bloody toothless pile. Trade your fear for experience and afterwards you’ll still have something you love to do. You won’t care that you sucked because the doubt would be replaced by knowledge. Then try it again using what your learned from your first failure.

    There’s no doubt about it either. You first novel will suck. Maybe your second too. You’re not done until you quit trying.

    The worst part is I worked really hard and failed a lot to get to where I am today and then I hear everyone write it off as luck and keep complaining they don’t get lucky while they watch TV and play Xbox all day. Not you Shawn, but enough people that I don’t have any sympathy left for them any more.

    http://www.qwantz.com/merchandise.html#failure

    Go fail now so you can succeed later. :o)

  4. They say that you have to write a million words of suckitude before you can write something good. Here’s to your first 50,000 of them. 🙂 *clinks glass*

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