I had the opportunity of attending a workshop led by Gordon Liddy, and I must say… it was amazing!
He called it the Hero’s Journey, using material from A Writer’s Journey by C. Vogel. As I looked at the hero’s arc, I could see so many points of my own life reflected in those very stages. I could also see what is ahead for our journey to become owners of our own shop in the next few years. I could see obstacles and hard times, but seeing them and knowing they’ll be coming makes them easier to face. Mainly because there is the other side to all the unpleasantness, and that is the “elixir” or result of all those trials and travails.
It also got me talking to myself about a certain subject that has been driving me crazy for a while. Something I don’t really talk about because it sounds so… whiny. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the whining and worrying and carrying on when the situation merits it, but really, some things just kind of max out that whole pity/stupidity spectrum. And yet, I whine.
One of the things mentioned in the workshop was the importance of having a life coach or a mentor to get you over obstacles. Well, I don’t really have a life coach, although I do have friends who will listen and offer advice, so I guess that fits the mentor bill. However, this subject is one that is hard enough for me to talk to myself about, telling someone else would be impossible. So I figured I’d write it out.
Life Coach: You’ve done the work, now it’s time to take it to the next step.
Pupil ID: I can’t. It’s not ready.
L.C.: You said it was done. You said you’d done all you can with it, now it’s time to do something with it. Send it out.
I.D.: I can’t. I’m afraid.
L.C.: Are you afraid of failure?
I.D.: No, not exactly. I rather expect that.
L.C.: Then do you worry about rejection?
I.D.: No, I expect that in spades, but it is not something that worries me.
L.C.: What exactly is it that keeps you from stepping out of this comfort zone?
I.D.: Success. What if I’m successful? What if all my dreams come true and I join the ranks of the big kids, the famous ones? The rich ones?
L.C.: You’re kidding, right?
I.D.: No…not really.
L.C.: Why do you fear success?
I.D.: It’s a hell of a drop from way up there. I’m afraid of heights.
L.C.: It is a long drop, but one you would be able to see coming if you’re paying attention. Then you could do something to prepare yourself: strap on a parachute or pile mattresses at the bottom to land on, call your friends or your mother and cry on their shoulders for a while…
I.D.: I’m afraid of what people will say while I’m up there.
L.C.: What? What would they say that could possibly make you fear success?
I.D.: They could say the same things I whisper to myself, that I don’t deserve it, that I’m a hack, that my work is nonsense and has no literary value. They might say it has no meaning.
L.C.: You’re absolutely right! They can, and WILL say such things. Of course they will, and they will wait for your fall with ‘bated breath. If you do fall, they will cheer and jeer and say they were right.
I.D.: Yes, that’s very helpful, thank you so much.
L.C.: Why do you care? If you rise to the top of the heap, or even just to a comfortable spot higher than you are now, those voices, as ugly as they are, aren’t the ones who will get you up there. They’re not going to take you down, either. Only you can do that, and if you like the view from up there, I’m sure you can find a way to keep your footing and make yourself comfortable. Those who taunt you and mock your work are jealous and spiteful and say those exact same things to anyone who has met with success. They will say those things forever, and there will be those who listen, but why should you care? Do you like Hemingway?
I.D.: Not particularly.
L.C.: Do you think he cares that you don’t like him?
I.D.: Well, no… he’s dead.
L.C.: Ok, bad choice of examples. What about Stephanie Wazzername of sparkling vampire fame. Do you like her books?
I.D.: I’ve not read them, nor do I intend to at this point. Sparkling vampires…I just…would rather not. I mean, what would Buffy say?
L.C.: Do you think Ms. Meyers cares what you or Buffy might say?
I.D.: Not bloody likely.
L.C.: By not reading her books, are you going to push her from her perch?
I.D.: Then I’m going to need some help putting together a submission package for my manuscripts. And I’ll also need some cheese to go with all that whine…