Believe or Make-Believe?

I realized something the other day.  Something kind of heartbreaking.  Something that has been strangling me ever since.

I don’t believe in myself as a writer.  In fact, I don’t believe in myself about much of anything.

Often, I’ll share this thought with my husband.  Deliberately misunderstanding me, he’ll pinch me lightly and say, “Yep, you’re real.”  That always makes me laugh.

Seriously, though, why don’t I feel real as a writer?

This realization shocked me the other day as I was thinking about my imminently changing career plans.  I am on the verge of being laid off due to the sale of the company I work for.  I’ve never had much direction in what you would call my “career” so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to take my time and think about what I really wanted to do next.

As I delved more deeply into the topic, however, I discovered that I wasn’t really worried about what my next job would be.  I’m worried about the job I’ll have three jobs from now.  (Yes, I know I’m crazy.  Deal with it – I have to.)

But truly, that’s my concern.  I’m thirty.  I don’t mind starting off on the bottom rung of a new industry at this point in my life.  However, I’m unlikely to feel that same way in ten years.  And I know that the steps I take right now will be the foundation for my career later on.

It was upon all this pondering that I realized I was trying to build myself a career that had nothing to do with being an author.  If I truly thought I would be able to sell a book in the next few years, I’d be fine with getting a job doing most anything that would allow me a standard work schedule and a steady paycheck in the meantime.  I wouldn’t be worried about creating a career, feeling safe in the thought that writing would truly be my career, eventually.

The trouble is, there’s no way to know.  I can’t look at my unfinished, unedited manuscript right now and know whether it will ever be good enough for publishing.  Or whether it will ever actually make money.  Or if this one won’t, but the next one will.

And I can’t completely stand still in the meantime.  I intend to push forward with the book regardless, but I will need to find some sort of job in the near future, as my husband and I cannot subsist on dreams or one income indefinitely.  Do I seek something with steadiness and an easy schedule or something with growth potential and more demands?

Is it stepping out in faith to plow forward, acting as though one day I will be an author?  Or is it immature wishfulness that ignores reality?

Is wanting something passionately and being willing to work hard really enough to achieve your dreams in the long run?  Or is that just another fairytale, Cinderella?

I don’t really have an answer yet, but I thought I would share this with you in case you’re a writer who doubts your work or a dreamer who doubts your dream’s validity.  Feel free to comment if you’ve ever felt this way.  Maybe we’ll find the answer together.

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