Do It Scared, Do it Terrified

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Jul 10th, 2016
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Do It Scared, Do it Terrified

The universe is demanding of me, once again, to Do It Scared.


I wrote here about coming out as a food addict in an AA meeting of nearly 100 people.  As my turn to share got closer and closer, I felt fear but also an eerie sense of inevitability.  I did it scared.   And I survived my worst nightmare.  As in some crusty old guy rising out of his folding chair to tell me to get the hell out, nobody ever got arrested for eating a bag a Fritos while driving. To the contrary, the blessings of acceptance have been raining down ever since.  I have been embraced, both metaphorically, and literally, since braving the rickety bridge of fear.


So here we go again.  Two days ago I was talking with a friend about how I feared I wasn’t making progress on my novel because my energy this month has been on this blog and my Big Book translation project.  Living a 12 Step life is all about balance, and I said that I needed to find some in my writing life.


Her response was, “Maybe you need a writing sponsor to hold you accountable.”  Amen to that!  When I was getting my MFA in writing at Bennington, I cranked out 40-50 pages every month because I had a teacher who was waiting to read and critique my pages.  I thrived those two years, and marvel at how much I produced.


Maybe five hours after that suggestion was made, I was at an outdoor flea/antique market. At the first booth, I chatted with a very pleasant guy who was selling stuff from his mother’s estate. I moved on to the next vendor but heard fragments of this guy’s conversation with his next customer.  “And what have you written?” she asked.  He answered with the title of one of my most favorite books ever.  I reflexively turned to him and said, “You are —?”  He acknowledged that he was, and I’m afraid I began babbling about how much I loved his work, etc etc etc.  I also said that his wife was my writing idol, that I’d loved every one of her books, that I was writing a book in her genre.


My secret fantasy has always been that I could work with this famous novelist, so that she could teach me.  You know how we always say, about looking for a sponsor, “Find someone who has what you want, and ask he or she how she is achieving it?”  This author definitely has the writing chops to which I aspire, and I would sure as hell like to know how she does it.


I asked this lovely man if he or his wife ever taught or did private consulting.  He said he didn’t, but his wife might. “Give me your email, and I’ll give it to her.”  I think I stopped breathing for a moment, but managed to say thanks, I’ll go to the car and get paper and pen.


I wandered the other vendors for about fifteen minutes trying to get my sea legs back under me, then went to my car.  I wrote down my contact information and returned to hand it to the writer.  “Oh,” he says, smiling, “You can stalk her yourself, she’s right here.”  He said it in the friendliest way.


I’m afraid I babbled.  No, I know I babbled.  After incoherently expressing my admiration for her work, and talking about mine, I asked whether she ever took on aspiring writers.  She said, “No, because I send my own books to someone to get help with them.”  There was a split second then, when I could have said, thanks, and walked away.  But then I heard myself asking, “Does your guy ever take new clients?”


The minute I said it, I was flooded with mortification. Any editor or book doctor who is skilled enough to work with a best-selling author is not likely to read a stranger’s work.  But she said, “I’ll ask him.  Here’s my email.  Send me your contact info and I’ll forward it to him.”


I got home and emailed the Famous Author my contact information and my thanks.  Five hours later, her “guy” emails me saying “Send me what you have and I’ll let you know whether I think we can work together.”


OK, I’ve been scared many times in my life.  On a plane that bounced so violently the food cart went airborne.  On a Navy ship doing volunteer work in Indonesia with two bosses giving me contradictory orders, and having no one to help me sort out what to do.  In a classroom, getting painful feedback from other famous writers during my MFA stint.  In my own home, forced to face being alone after twenty years of a marriage I cherished.


Spoiler alert, I lived through the bumpy flight, had one of the most magic times of my life in Indonesia, became a much better writer, and am today not alone, but rather, deeply loved.


So here’s another opportunity to Do It Scared.  It’s all good.  But you know? Just when I think I’m getting the hang of doing it scared, the universe hands me something else that feels like: Do It Effing Terrified.


This opportunity is a gift.  I know that. I’ve promised to send my work to this editor in one week, and today is the first of seven days in which I will tend to issues big and small with my manuscript.  Then all I can do is send it off and let the universe unfold.  Worst case, he tells me I’m way outta my league.  And I’ll move on, keep writing.


Oh, the blessing of Step One, knowing and accepting that I am powerless over his reaction.


So this week,  I’m doing it terrified.  I’ll be at my Early Bird meeting every day to get my head screwed on straight and to grab a dose of courage sufficient to the day.





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