Back in January I wrote about how I’d come up with a new way to figure out what Goals I should be setting myself for the coming year. I called it my ‘vision exercise‘ and I like to think of it as a sneaky way of by passing all that usual wish-list malarkey whilst at the same time delving around in the sub-conscious to find out what’s really important to us.
My ‘vision exercise’ resulted in three rather ambitious goals one of which was this:
I am writing FICTION
(rather than NON-FICTION)
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed writing every one of my self-help books BUT they rather came about by accident – my first love has always been fiction.
Now obviously, if you’ve read ‘Happy‘, you’ll know that for that to be a proper goal it should have a deadline attached to it, and perhaps even a penalty, but as I started the year I realised that a really good first step on the path to achieving this goal would be to actually finish the novel that I’d been fiddling with for the previous ten years.
Followers of my author blog already know that I’ve claimed my novel was ‘finished’, or ‘almost finished’, several times. Here in 2011 for instance. And here. And, oh dear, here too. But the truth is I knew I could never claim it was actually finished until it was out there and in print. So I set myself the following goal:
Well I’m sure you know what happened next.
Easter came and went and the novel was nowhere to be seen.
People asked me where was it, and I told them that
- it was with my agent, or
- another publisher was taking a look at it
And whilst all those things were true, it wasn’t quite the whole truth, because I actually could have made the Easter deadline. If I’d put my mind to it. If I’d really wanted to. But I didn’t.
Because I was scared.
This novel has been a long time in the making. It was a journey that Kate set me off on just after we’d met. She believed in me. She believed in the story. She thought the book would do really really well. Basically there’s an entire decade of hopes and dreams wrapped up in those words.
But if I publish it…
- maybe no one will buy it?
- maybe people will buy it but maybe they won’t like it!
- maybe they will like it, but not that much.
- maybe this will be the first and last novel I ever write!!
- maybe this will be the last book I ever write.
- maybe this will herald the end of my writing career.
People often think that I left credit card banking because my first book, How To Do Everything And Be Happy, took off. That wasn’t the reason at all. I left a well paid career behind because I realised, yet again, that life’s too short to be doing things that don’t make you happy!
I had a half finished novel on my desk, a half finished self help book, some money in the bank, and dreams of what life could be like – if I put some effort in – I took it all and made the most crazy decision of my life. In short I took a leap of faith.
I only realised recently that I’m still mid-leap. I’m still terrified to see it through.
I’ve spent my life being terrified.
When I was younger
- I was terrified of asking girls out
- I was terrified of failing my exams
- I was terrified of youth club
- I was terrified of travelling, of going places where I didn’t know anyone, of being vulnerable.
Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time and tell that kid a few things! I’d say…
- Ask that girl out!
- Forget about studying!!
- Go to flippin youth club!!!
- Travel the world!!!!
I was telling Della this just the other day and she suggested that whilst it is too late to go back and change the past (and more to the point, impossible) it’s not too late for the future to come back and change the present.
I got to wondering what future me might say were he to appear right now. And I came to the conclusion that he would tell me the following:
Publish the damn book!
“But what if no one buys it?” I’d squeak.
“They will,” he’d reply.
“But what if only a few people buy it?” I’d counter
“Then tell more people,” he’d say.
“But what if no one likes it!!” I’d roar.
“Well, some will, some won’t – publish it anyway…”
And I think he’d go on to tell me to write more books, take more risks, throw myself out there even more, try even harder, to reach for the blinkin’ stars.
Then I got to wondering, is this ‘future me’ …successful?
Maybe this is advice from a successful ‘future me’. Maybe a less than successful future me would tell me something different? But when I thought about it some more I suddenly realised, no, unsuccessful me would probably say exactly the same thing!!! Unsuccessful me would be thinking “if only I’d taken more risks, tried harder, pushed myself….”
The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl is here. In two formats. And if you happen to be reading this before the 19th of September 2014 then it’s currently less than a quid for your kindle enabled tablet or smart phone! That’s got to be worth a punt, surely. Click here to visit your favourite online bookseller.
I’m still terrified of course. I have no idea what people are going to make of it. I have no idea whether I’ve lived up to the high expectations Kate had of me. And I have absolutely no idea whether this will herald the start of my career as a novelist, or the end of my career as an author. But at least now I’ll get to find out.
What about you…
Are you being held back by fear? Why not share your thoughts with the class in the comments box below, or on facebook. Be great to hear from you.