I work in a magazine company. This week I had a meeting with one of the editors who kindly offered to sit down with me and give me some feedback on a feature I’d written.
Actually, feature is too grand a word. Because, let’s be honest here, I don’t know how to write one. Aside from a degree in English Literature, which was fluffy at best, I have no formal written skills.
She asks me some challenging questions. What sort of writing do I want to do. Features? Creative? I’ll need some sort of training, she says. To learn how to structure a feature, source information and make contacts. Or perhaps take a course in creative writing. UEA run a brilliant one.
Ah yes. I know the one. 15 years ago I turned down a place on that very course. I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach. What an idiot. Don’t think about where you might be now, if you’d made a different choice, I think.
I’ve spent my life wanting to write. Yet this past month is the closest I’ve come to doing anything about it. The book. The blog. The tweets. And I’ve felt happier and more purposeful than ever before. But suddenly there are decisions to make. I realise that I don’t know what I want and perhaps that means I don’t want it enough.
And then it hits me.
This is what I do every time I have an opportunity. I talk myself out of it. And I could very easily do it again. I could go through all the reasons this might not work. The fact that I don’t really know what my goal is. The reality that there are so many brilliant writers out there, I just won’t make the cut. The fear that there is no such thing as original thought (that one bothers me a lot).
Or, I could just do what I’m told. Isn’t that what I ask of Beaver every day? She never does it either, by the way.
So that is what I do. For the first time ever I decide to move forward, one step at a time. I sign up for the news writing course the editor suggests. And we agree to meet afterwards and talk about what might come next.
I don’t know where any of this is going. After all, there is only certainty in doing nothing. But I really don’t want to be sitting here in another 15 years with a sinking feeling in my stomach. So this time, I’m going to keep going and see where it takes me.
If any of this sounds familiar, I’d love some company. I know you’ve got it in you. We just need to stop thinking and start doing. Deal?
It just might be that straightforward.