David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather and a grounded pilot. He cofounded Warrior Writers Boot Camp with Kristen Lamb. You can read more of his posts at https://davwalk.wordpress.com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.
Today’s post is by fellow Life List Club member Pam Hawley, who regularly blogs at http://hawleyville.wordpress.com. Check out her blogs there. Meanwhile, I’m guesting at Jess Witkins’s blog, http://jesswords10.wordpress.com. Read Pam’s post first and then go on over to Jess’s site and read mine. You can find other members’ sites by clicking on their names in my Life List Club Blogroll.
Sticking Our Necks Out
There’s a father/son conversation in one of the first chapters of “A Game of Thrones” that brings a little tear to my eye. I’m all mushy and sentimental like that.
A very young boy has just witnessed something that would terrify a much older man. He desperately wants his father to see him as courageous and grown-up. He also wants to be honest about being frightened. So he asks his father if someone can be both brave and afraid at the same time.
“The only time you can be brave is when you are afraid,” his father replies.
Ironically, if I had to point to another lesson learned from this novel, I’d jokingly say “don’t stick your neck out.” After all, heads tend to roll in this entire series.
In real life, though, I think just the opposite is true.
On a not-too-long-ago visit to a nearby zoo, I had a chance to feed a sweet-tempered giraffe some leafy goodies. She was a bit skittish at first, but the temptation of one of her favorite treats eventually won her over and she stretched out her long, graceful neck to claim the prize.
Like her, we have to take risks to get rewards. As we have been working together towards our Life List Goals, we often focus on diligence and perseverance, on the importance of putting time and effort into reaching our dreams. While that may well be the most important lesson we learn on this journey, I’ve noticed something else along the way.
Growing and achieving our goals requires facing things we are afraid of and being brave. We have all been sticking our necks out a little.
When we think of bravery, our minds go to knights in shining armor or maybe soldiers far away from home. We might think of the devil-may-care attitude of a seasoned rock climber or the flashy bravado of a lion tamer. Most of us don’t think of writers, sitting at our (hopefully) comfortable desks and tapping out our tales.
But we are brave. Many of us have been doing things that required overcoming fear.
Although I didn’t necessarily realize I was doing it, I’ve been sticking my neck out quite a bit. It all started when I took a leap of faith and posted my Life List Goals for the blogging world to see. Goals are warm and fuzzy things when they haven’t been shared with anyone else. Unspoken goals are dreams dancing around on fluffy clouds and rainbows. If you don’t chase them and they dance away, no one knows but you. That is disappointing, but you don’t feel like you’ve gone out on a limb.
When you publicize your goals the way we have in the Life List Club, you have taken a risk. You’ve made yourself accountable. There are some days those goals staring back at you from your public blog look more like jagged mountains than gently rolling hills. They can be a little scary.
I’ve seen many other quiet acts of bravery, amongst the Life Listers and within myself, as we’ve walked along this road together. Here are some of them:
- Hitting that “submit” button to send those stories off for potential publication, even though our hands are trembling because once the publisher has our work we can’t grab it back for “one more edit.” Finality is scary.
- Putting aside our fears of rejection to continue sending our work out for publication, even though those “thanks but no thanks” letters feel like kicks in tender hind parts.
- Getting out there at writer’s conferences to network and meet new people, even though we may be introverted by nature and perfect to stay home and talk about writing from the safety of our screens.
- Participating in writing critiques even though sometimes they feel like baring little bits of our souls to relative strangers.
- Making the time we spend working towards our goals a priority, even when that upsets other apple carts in our lives and maybe even frustrates those who love us now and then.
- Taking good hard looks at where we’re struggling and saying “I need to do better there.” Ouch. Admitting defeat hurts. But you can’t get up and win until you shake off the loss and get on to the next game.
- Remembering that as busy as our goals make us, living in the moment and sharing ourselves with our loved ones is important. Sometimes being in the here and now while also looking ahead is like finding the perfect balance while walking on a tightrope, and we’re doing it well.
- Digging deep into places inside ourselves that may sometimes be upsetting or disturbing, so that we can write those characters whose thoughts and actions scare us a little.
So far on this journey, we’ve put ourselves out there, taken chances, faced rejection, tried new things, shifted the balance in our worlds, and sometimes even admitted temporary defeat.
Those acts may not be hikes through jungles or sails on stormy seas. We may not be gladiators or ninja warriors. But we are brave just the same. We are sticking our necks out so that we can reach our chosen rewards.
Each time we take a chance, we’re growing.
What chances have you taken lately, and how have they brought you closer to your goals?
Biographical Info: Pam Hawley is a writer living in Baltimore, MD. When she’s not working at her day job, writing or in the gym, she can usually be found at her family’s pub, Hawley’s, or exploring local hiking trails with her boyfriend Lee. Pam has completed several short stories, including “A Wingding and Prayer,” which was published in eFiction Magazine’s (http://www.efictionmag.com) July issue. She is also working on a novel that is a cross between the supernatural and the absurdly funny. Pam blogs regularly at (http://hawleyville.wordpress.com).