A few variations of the hashtag were floating around Twitter this weekend: what would you do if you weren’t afraid?
It’s an interesting question, and it’s been rolling around in my head for a few days, because it’s one of those things that I don’t really think Twitter is well-equipped to discuss.
Here’s what I’ve realized: on the macro level, at least, I’m already doing what I would be doing if I wasn’t afraid.
I’m writing. Right now being a writer is my job. We just started filling out financial aid paperwork for next year at Hogwarts, and one of the first things it asks is the father’s occupation. There’s actually a box to click on to indicate unemployed. I went back and forth with my wife for a couple of minutes and then typed “Self-Employed (Author)” in the box.
I did not click “Unemployed.” I want, ultimately, to be a full-time writer. And right now, that’s what I am.
Here is the punchline, of course: getting what I want is terrifying, and if I was offered a stable full-time job tomorrow I would take it in a second. Because doing exactly what I would do if I had no fear is not, at the moment, contributing to my family’s well-being at all, unless you count the sizable tax refund we’re getting at least partially because I lost so much money playing at author last year.
So: I’m doing what I would be doing if I wasn’t afraid. And I am afraid. And it gets worse every time I do a large-scale job search (several times a week) and it gets worse every time I apply for a job that I’m perfectly capable of doing well and don’t even get an interview.
(Side note: I can understand asking for a college degree in a specific field if the job is for a 22-year-old. I’m pushing 40. I hate to break it to y’all but my college degree from eighteen years ago really doesn’t predict much about what I’m good at now.)
But anyway. What would I do different?
I can only think of a few things, really. I’d look more closely into advertising. I haven’t shelled out money for, say, BookBub promotions or Kirkus reviews because I literally cannot afford to guess on these things. I need to know that I’m going to be making back more than I’m shelling out or I can’t do it. Because I’ve got a decent financial cushion right now, but I cannot afford to spend any of it frivolously because it has to last until I have more money coming in. And thus far there has been nothing to give me any encouragement on the job front.
So, yeah: If I wasn’t afraid, I’d put more money into putting my books in front of the faces of other people, and I’d be more willing to experiment if I had a chance to do that. If I wasn’t afraid, I’d probably have a membership at the Y, since I have time to swim again– and I don’t have, because the $60 a month is not something I want to get tied into right now.
If I wasn’t afraid, from the outside, my life would look exactly the same as it does right now, though. That’s the kicker.
I just wouldn’t be trying to change it.