Tuesday, May 31, 2016

PROCEED WITH CAUTION! Should You Be Reading This???

A few years ago my friend Janis and I were volunteering at our alma mater's Lacordaire Academy Annual Book Sale. During some of our down time, we sat on the gym stage together and reminisced about our high school years there.

"What is one word you would use to describe me?" I asked her.

After some thought, she responded, "Cautious. You think about things in-depth before you do them."

Thereafter this turned into a conversation about how I can get out of this and has actually stayed with me ever since, making me question how much of life I am actually living.

Lately I've been encouraging myself to do more things, especially with my writing. Although, I still am a little cautious with that as well.

The truth is, I agreed with her answer whole-heartedly and wasn't offended by it. I actually like the fact that I am cautious. It makes me consider every logical path before making a decision and jumping into things.

However, this cautiousness of mine could also be more of a curse than a blessing. Cautiousness allows over-thinking and procrastination to dominate.

A part of the reason why I question my writing profession is that I never feel like my work is at its complete best and good enough in my eyes or ready for the cruel outside world. Think about it this way. Sometimes sharing my written work and putting it in someone else's hands is metaphorically equivalent to me walking outside in the nude and giving people permission to judge and touch my exposed body.

Yeah. It's THAT intimidating. And I'm not the only writer who suffers from this.

Usually when I finally submit the piece and then others see it, everything turns out fine. I never really had an issue with my articles and usually my subjects are happy with them, so I don't know where this fear is coming from.

However, this article in particular is different. The following is a recount of me deliberating with myself concerning said article and then making peace with my decision.

Before I made my decision:

This past late March, April, and May I have been working on a new kind of article for a new publication, which is why I haven't been paying much attention to this blog. Given that this is the first time we are working together, I want to do right by them, their readers, and myself.

I'm taking so long with it because I am being TOO cautious.

The concept, which I pitched to the publication's ad, examines something personal about myself that I don't often discuss - my love, dating, and sex life - or rather, lack thereof. Now that I think about it, it also discusses my cautiousness in that aspect of my life as well. Something specific was going on with me and I was actually considering writing a blog post about it for her, but then I saw the ad and thought that my story would be perfect for them, so I reached out to them even though I still had my doubts and they got back to me right away.

I'm a Scorpio, so therefore I am not always willing to put my personal information out there. I somewhat relate to a male Scorpio Mighty Quinn's co-worker in this way, even though he is a bit more open about certain matters than I, and vice versa. I know I express a nice majority of my life and opinions on this blog, but it still often feels detrimental to me depending on the topic and trying to distinguish how much I am willing to reveal and it sometimes takes me awhile to finally publish and share.

I find myself (Ha!) believe it or not watching YouTube clips of "Sex and the City" during this process to get more comfortable writing about and confessing my thoughts on relationships, marveling at how Candace Bushnell and her Sarah Jessica Parker alter ego have no shame or privacy needs at all.

Alas, don't let the big blonde hair, clever puns, and rhetorical questions fool you. I am no Carrie Bradshaw.

I expressed my concern to the editors of the publication, and they have been completely understandable and patient and told me to keep them posted. They have given me tips on how to improve the piece and have strongly urged me to consider what I feel comfortable putting out there. Once it's out there, you can't pull it back. (One of my worst fears!) My parents told me the same wisdom.

I hate keeping my editors waiting because I am so indecisive and (ugh) cautious about this and I want to be professional. I don't know what to say to them as an update but I also don't want to lose this very lovely publication as a client because this hesitation I am enduring is their first impression of me. I am a reliable writer and I want them to know this.

It's not normal to take this long with an article and if I finally choose to not let them publish it, would all of my work on it be for nothing?

I asked my Literally! gal pals for advice, and a lot of it was the same response. They said that it was up to me and to weigh the pros and cons. Perhaps my story can be beneficial to readers who are undergoing or have underwent my same experiences. Try to think about how I would feel in the long run. If I'm going to regret it, don't do it. But I put a lot of effort into it, so obviously I want to tell my story. Don't totally discredit publishing it. Maybe I don't have to publish it right now but I can do so when I am ready.

But I am never ready. How can I ever be ready? I'm lucky most of my clients have deadlines, because if they didn't, who knows when I would accomplish anything? It's also the reason why I have the "must blog something every month" rule. It forces me to actually do it and put it out there. It just so happens that this new website in particular is very lenient with its deadlines, letting me take my time to make the piece the best it can possibly be, for which I am very thankful.

The thing is, my patience with myself wears thin. I'm sick of feeling this way about my writing, having it gnaw at me. It's exhausting. It's makes me not even want to be a writer, even though writing is MY THING and I actually do enjoy it. It's the finally releasing part that gives me this irritating anxiety. I'm envious of writers who actually find it easy to obtain motivation and LET. GO.

In addition to writing the article for partially therapeutic reasons, I'm writing it because I feel like it would be useful for the readers and myself to share my story, so I totally agree with my friends in that regard. I detail some life lessons, which could educate.

Maybe this is one of those chance taking opportunities Janis was talking about.

After I made my decision:

I finally wrote an e-mail to one of my editors a week after our last correspondence, not wanting her to wonder what happened to me. I was honest with her, as I am with all of my editors and authority figures, and at the end that is what is important. I told her that I still have some reservations against publishing it and that "I think for you to publish it I should probably have complete comfort and confidence over the piece." I said that I still want to get feedback on my revisions from her and publish it eventually, but perhaps I can write other articles in the interim. She got back to me immediately and told me that she will leave the decision up to me and would be happy to look at my most recent draft but also understands if I need a break from it. The editor-in-chief (who was the first woman with whom I corresponded) is always open to pitches, so I am free to do that. I eventually sent her my recent draft just for her to give me input, and she told me that she will get back to me when she can.

I think I might take a break from it.

But she kept the window open for me, so that's good.

I quoted myself there for a reason. Is any writer ever completely comfortable and confident with any piece she/he submits? Whenever I have these emotions towards my writing, I feel like something is wrong, like it's too good to be true. There must be SOMETHING about it with flaw that needs fixing!!!!! What IS it?!? WHAT AM I MISSING???!!!???!

My writing friend Katlynn gave me the following advice when I asked about this, which has stayed with me and made me question the above issue: "That's what being a writer is all about. It's uncomfortable sometimes, but the best stories are brave and personal."

Very true. Does this mean that I should just suck it up then?

That spring afternoon sitting cross-legged on the cement stage I thought that Janis's "cautious" label deduced that I was too scared, dumb, or immature to do anything, that I was incapable and let fear get in the way all of the time. It has weighed on me a little too much ever since, and still sometimes does, always showing up again to haunt me whenever something possibly risk-taking arose and I maybe didn't grab at the chance, thinking that I had lost another opportunity.

However, I'm beginning to realize that being cautious isn't altogether a bad thing, and other cautious people need not feel guilty about this trait either. I don't need to be a risk-taker ALL of the time to lead a fulfilled life. There are certain moves I am ready for NOW, and some that I am not. Caution is also what we use to protect ourselves from any serious harm. There are CAUTION signs everywhere in life, and we can either choose to obey them and feel rest assured of our safety, or take our chances with life and not know what the outcome will be. I just have to determine which life choices are which.

I just happened to choose this path for the article - for now. And I am happy with my decision to hold off on it for the time being.

If I ever decide to publish my dating piece, I will share it with you!

(I have also been cautious about finally publishing and sharing this blog post! Ugh! :P)

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