So we’ve reached the end of another term, and with the end of another term there comes my customary moment of AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! As some of you may have noticed, I’m just a wee bit terrified of real world. Career is not one of my favorite words at the moment. Future pretty much scares the smartass out of me.
One of my favorite characters on what has to be one of the greatest shows of all time has this absolute gem of a line. He’s telling someone who’s being a complete pansy that she’s taking the easy way out, because you’re scared, because if you try and fail there’s only you to blame.
Failure scares me, but it doesn’t terrify me. There’s only so many times you can bring something to one of Emily’s classes believing it to be the greatest writing the world has ever seen, only to get her comments back and see keep trying. You’re almost there, but not quite. Or those times you make an absolutely brilliant suggestion and everyone just kinda stares at you until you retreat back into your cave and spend the next six months rebuilding your shattered confidence. Failure I can deal with.
Success scares me because it kills the dream. If the New Yorker shoots you down four times in a row, that sucks, but the dream is still alive and kicking. In some ways it’s kicking even harder, because each time someone tells you your work kinda sucks, the best seller is that much farther out of reach, which makes it a bit more of a dream. Success kills it, because if you’ve always wanted a best seller and can hold the thing in your hand, it’s not a dream anymore. Now you’ve done it, and it’s real, and you have to do it again. And again. And again. And then you’ve become, quite literally, just a name on a shelf. If you’re one of the greatest of all time, you might get to be a handful of pages buried in an anthology.
Take that Narrative contest I mentioned in class. I went through all the motions and had two separate stories ready to go, all I needed was last minute advice from our resident creative writing genius and I was good to go. Except I never asked for any advice, because I’m a spineless git, and $2000+ prize money scares the living holy Hell out of me. Shit like that puts you on the map, and turns the dream into a job. And it’s so much more appealing when I can sit here and pretend there’s gonna be a party one day with O’Brien, Rowling, and Lounsbury just sitting around drinking scotch and being literary, and I can refer the them as Joe and Timmy.
Emily’s sitting somewhere (probably her office) shaking her head at me and thinking I’m crazy, because at least one of those stories had a decent chance of maybe not winning, but at least getting something done, even if all it turned out to be was my first rejection letter.
Maybe putting it into words will help me deal with it eventually, but right now I’m still sitting on a computer afraid to fail, or worse, afraid I might succeed.