Into the light

The pages arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago. I sent them to an editor, one I paid in real money and not in back rubs. They came back sliced through with green ink. I expected red, but she used green, perhaps to make it look like less of a massacre across the page. I reminded myself that I asked for this, and got down to business. It took a few days, a few tears, and more edits than I can count, but the first few pages are as finished as they’re going to be. For today, anyway.

I felt good about this until I counted the many, many more pages requiring a rewrite. While trying to perform emergency surgery on the rest of the chapters, I am also trying to pull together the book proposal. I vacillate daily between believing this is a good idea, and believing I should chuck it all and become a Pilates instructor. Pilates doesn’t require me to put my heart on a page and pay people to help me fix it. I literally have this conversation with myself every morning when I open my laptop, and again when I lay down in bed at night.
A friend received a six figure advance on his latest book, and the day I heard the news, I wholeheartedly cheered for him. Then I decided for the 2578th time to give up on writing and pursue the Pilates. I told this to my husband, who responded by saying, “That’s crazy”. I’m not sure if his words referred to my state of mind or the six figure advance. I think it was the six figure advance.

I have never mentioned to our friend that I write, and every time our path crosses his, I swear my husband to secrecy. I rarely talk about my writing with people who know me in real life, especially if they know me well. I hide the part of myself I love the most. I hide it because I love it so much, I fear someone’s negative opinion will somehow damage this part of me. This hiding and swearing of secrets sounds ridiculous, but fear makes us do ridiculous things. Fear of failure, fear of falling short, fear of other’s opinions. I don’t know what my writer friend would think of my writing, and fear keeps me from finding out. 

I share this because I know some of you feel the weight of this kind of fear. Your fears may not hinge on writing, perhaps your fears revolve around a desire to marry, or have babies, or become a missionary, or run a bakery, or cure cancer. You keep this treasure, this essential part of yourself, hidden away where only you and God see it. But I wonder if part of enjoying this treasure fully, requires us to bring it out into the light and acknowledge it’s existence before more than the mirror.

I don’t have an answer for conquering the fear or sharing our secrets, but I do know that when a friend asked about my summer plans, I told her I will attend a writer’s conference. I felt myself wanting to catch the words with cupped hands as they fell from my mouth, with the hopes of shoveling them back in before they reached her ears. But they fell softly and she was kind and I felt as if I took one more step out of hiding and walked into the light.

What are you stepping out of, into, away from?