Editor April Jones shares her thoughts about risks in writing and in life. Thank you, April!
Ten years ago I traded in the corporate world for late-night feedings and lots of dirty diapers. Soon one baby became two, and then three. Instead of compiling reports and answering emails, I was rereading the same board book seventeen times in a row (I wish I was exaggerating here, but I’m not) and leading child-to-child negotiations over Legos. Together, we have built so many precious memories. But this chapter of my life is quickly coming to an end because a week ago I accepted my dream job. The catch? I have to move to a new city and live on my own for a semester before my family can join me. Even with them all on board, this feels like the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Can I really do this?
As I was crying over this major life change with a friend, she asked, “What if you think of this as a grand gesture of self-love rather than a huge risk?” Wait. Taking a risk can be an expression of self-love? Why didn’t I think of that?
As I think back on all the times I did something that felt scary—graduate school with a newborn, writing and publishing a novel, starting a local writing group, investing in my freelance career—it all seems to point to the fact that on some level, I believe in my ability to do hard things. What if I took this same mindset when I sat down to work on my writing? What if I trusted myself enough to take bigger risks on the page?
Writing can feel like living with your heart wide open for judgment. It’s sharing your very real feelings with a bunch of people who might not like what you have to say, and that’s scary. Showing up to the page and being honest about what it’s like to be human is both terrifying and rewarding. You’re placing yourself in a vulnerable position to be rejected by people you know and even by people you’ve never met. But there’s nothing quite like finally getting the wording right and knowing you’ve written something so true that it’s bound to touch someone’s heart. Whether you’re looking to tell a fun story or a meaningful one, writers are the people who can cobble together an imperfect language into living art, and that is a gift worth pursuing.
Friends, I hope that when you sit down to make a big life choice or work on your latest writing project, that you will trust yourself. Keep cheering yourself on because you can do it. Give yourself permission to try something you might not find immediate success in, something that might scare you (in a good way). Love yourself enough to live a little bigger and a little louder than you have been because self-love is a powerful force. And you never know whose life you might influence for the better. It might just be your own, and isn’t that worth the risk?