Last week I stood overlooking a lake close to my house and thought, I created this life. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in my early years that could have pointed towards this—where I live, who I have married, my career, and in particular, the outspoken and independent person I have become. Where I come from, women don’t often have a public voice. But I do.
I created it. I fought for it. I believed so hard that it had no choice but to happen because I didn’t allow not happening to even be a possibility.
I had come to the lake, as I often do, to clear my mind and to get back to clarity and focus. Back home, my husband and son were cooking dinner and watching boxing together. My agent had emailed me the night before to tell me that we were going to need one more revision on the novel. You know, the six-year novel, and that there were still some issues that needed to be fixed.
When I was fourteen, I decided that I wouldn’t learn how to cook because if I did, then I’d be “good marriage material” and I didn’t want to be that, I didn’t want to be any kind of marriage material at all. I insisted that if I did get married one day, it would be to a guy who liked cooking. Everyone thought I was mad. Now I’m married to a guy who likes cooking.
I want to give up on this novel. It’s been six years and I’m tired. I have done the very best I could and I don’t always feel like I’m going to be able to fix it or bring it to the standard that my agent seems to believe that I can. I’d like to be the person who can walk away, to say, I’ve learned some lessons here and in the next book, I will do better.
But I know I can’t. I won’t. I will stick with this book, not because that is what I must do, but because that is who I am.
I am a person who gets knocked down, gets up, gets knocked down again, gets up, gets knocked down again, gets up, and repeatedly just keeps getting up because staying knocked down just isn’t something she knows how to do.
I get up because it is who I am. It is a part of my identity. I am someone who does not give up. I am someone who says, “Is that all you’ve got? Give me all you have because I may be down right now but when I get up, my sheer power and force will blind you.”
THAT is who I am.
I am the person who keeps going when everyone else has given up. I am the person who keeps believing when everyone else thinks belief is stupid. I am the person who will go to great lengths and take immense personal risks to follow her heart again and again not because it is the sane thing to do, but because it is who I am. I am someone who follows her heart. Someone who fights for her beliefs. Someone who believes in herself when everyone else has stopped believing. Someone who has an unshakeable vision for her life, one she will keep walking towards for all of her days.
Standing up, continuing to fight, that is a natural instinct. It is who we are.
Is that not the true test of a dream, after all? If you quit when things get hard, if you quit when you just don’t want to and can’t be bothered, if you quit in the face of relentless failure and rejection, if you quit when it seems unlikely to ever work out, if you quit then, was it really a dream to begin with? Did you truly believe it the way you said you did?
No, when faced with pressure, with rejection, with defeat, you must come back harder, stronger, with all the intensity that you can. You must roll up your sleeves and say, “Give me all you’ve got because I’m ready. I’m meant to live my dreams and this one small failure is not the thing that holds me back from that.” When I look back on my life, I can assure you, I will not be saying, Oh, I was racing towards my dreams but then my agent said that my book needed more revisions and well, that was the end of that. Instead, I want to be able to say, “You remember when she just kept sending it back over and over and over again and I just couldn’t get it right but then eventually, I nailed the damn thing and it was beautiful. Remember that?”
Because that is who I am. I am relentlessly optimistic. I am relentless in my beliefs and I am relentless in my efforts. Half-arsed in not an option in my world. Dreams are not achieved with half-arsed efforts.
I am not giving up. It’s not even an option. Doing the work is the option no matter how difficult that work is and no matter how long it takes. Because my commitment wasn’t “I’ll do it for as long as it’s easy,” my commitment was, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” And right now, what it’s taking is absolute and utter belief in myself, it’s taking every ounce of self-belief I have, it’s taking a commitment to stay focused, to know that whatever I don’t know, I can learn. It is taking patience, more than I thought I had to give. It is taking faith. It is taking confidence.
None of these things are coming easy but that was not the promise. Easy is never the promise in art. I was never promised easy. I was never promised anything. It was my choice to do this. I’m doing it. And I’m not going to stop.
Because it’s not a question, it’s a choice. It’s not will I or won’t I?
I will because I’ve already decided I will.
Which brings me to something I’ve been dying to tell you about. I’ve had this idea in mind for months but I wanted to wait until the end of the year to launch this and now, here it is.
I’m launching a new course called 30 DAYS TO CREATIVE COURAGE. In it, we’ll talk about the many barriers that stand in the way of an artistic career: lack of money, lack of support, lack of belief in oneself, and all the things that make you feel trapped and stuck instead of in flow and creating. Lack of time, lack of motivation, lack of joy, lack of inspiration, lack, lack, so much lack.
In this course, we’re going to focus not on lack, but on abundance. How to create abundance in your life—of time, of joy, of space, of creative work. We’ll talk about writing and releasing, forming habits, and overcoming blocks, but more than that, we’ll talk about becoming comfortable with yourself, with who you are, and with whatever stage you’re at in your creative career.
A mind that is trapped cannot create art and that is what I want to teach you to overcome.
This course will help free your mind and give you permission to finally go create without attaching so much stress and negativity to it. You deserve the gift of creative freedom. As a writer, that is the one thing you cannot afford to lose. And that is what I will teach you how to do.
I’ll show you how to find that freedom, but also how to protect it, how to fight for it, and how to nurture it. You cannot allow yourself to go down rabbit holes of negativity, allow others to influence who you are and how you work, and most of all, you cannot allow defeat to take over.
This course will show you how to stand up for yourself and keep on standing up even when you’re being beaten down.
I want you to find your creative courage. In 30 days.
The course will have 30 daily videos along with 30 daily challenges that will shove you out of your comfort zone and help you build courage and confidence in your work and yourself.
I feel like every single one of you should take this course. And so, even though the price will go up eventually, for now it is my lowest-priced course and a fantastic deal.
Check it out here: http://writing-courses.teachable.com/p/courage
If you’ve already signed up for Finish That Damn Book, you’ll have free access to 30 DAYS TO CREATIVE COURAGE.
Buy FINISH THAT DAMN BOOK by December 31, 2016 11.59pm GMT and you’ll get this new course for free with it.
If you’ve been struggling to create, feeling the joy seep out of your writing, and finding it just too much pressure to write when you don’t know how, you need to sign up for this. It will give you the tools you need to find joy in your creativity and start making it fun again.
Because that’s why you’re doing it right?
The course will be open to take any time, but the first group will start on January 1, 2017 and if you’re looking for creative courage, what better time to start than in the New Year?
Come join us. It’s going to be fun.