So I’ve been talking about this book for far too long – the travel memoir about South America. I’ve been working on it for too long, editing it for too long, putting my favourite snippets next to my favourite songs in attempt to get back in the head space for too long, and procrastinating the rejection for waaaaay too long. But it’s scary. The idea of friends reading your work is scary enough, let alone professionals whose opinion can make or break you.
After the second draft, about five months ago, I went to a “learn how to get published course”. Then I hired a “professional” editor – in hope that an external opinion would be a more efficient use of time, perspective and skill in the act of cutting out the crap from my 600 page manuscript and making it into a more readable 300 or so pages. Unfortunately things didn’t quite pan out according to the idealistic scenario in my head.
The good news is that, over time, I have lost some attachment to the story. I’m even considering fictionalising it, although not sure if this idea is just another form of procrastination. And the editor did at least help me prepare a professional-looking proposal and about 50 pages that are close to ready to send.
So basically I find myself in a situation where I switch daily from wanting to throw the whole thing in the bin, to wanting to turn it into a PhD topic (applying narrative techniques to the travel narrative), to wanting to send something, anything, it to a publisher.
According to Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist, 1992) there are four obstacles to achieving our dreams:
“First we are told from childhood onwards that everything we want to do is impossible.”
“The second obstacle: love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.”
“The third obstacle: fear of defeats we will meet on the path. We who fight for our dream suffer far more when it doesn’t work out, because we cannot fall back on the old excuse, ‘Oh, well, I didn’t really want it anyway.’ … The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
“The fourth obstacle: the fear of realizing the dream for which we have been fighting all our lives.” This last obstacle, says Coelho, is “the most dangerous of the obstacles because it has a kind of saintly aura about it: renouncing joy and conquest.”
It seems I’m presently stuck at the third obstacle. I think a big part of me (the ego) thinks my book is for sure going to be rejected by publishers and quite simply does not want to hear it. It would rather live in the dream of naive possibility than to feel like a failure. This in turn leads to more procrastinating, a little more editing, more playing around with photos and film, and even come up with more “brilliant” narrative-inquiry-driven approaches (that may actually make it a more interesting book but I’m not sure about any of my ideas anymore).
Coelho says we must “be prepared to have patience in the difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how” …
What does the universe want me to do? I don’t know!!!
“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”
Maybe my fear of rejection is worse than actually getting rejected?
Maybe it is time to face my fears, accept face the fact that my first book probably will be rejected, and somehow find the strength to still take that chance?
My mum told me today that of the authors she has read (which is A LOT), their very first book sucks – at least compared to the ones that follow. Their writing style, confidence, use of words – everything improves. So whether or not this book sucks, my next one will surely be better. I suppose when it comes down to it, if I fall it won’t hurt that much, and then I’ll just have to get up, learn some patience, and continue along the long path to who-knows-where.
Ok, I’m ready, I’ll do it … after just one more edit. 😛
My favourite photo from the trip – the majestic Galapagos Eagle that landed behind me at the top of a volcano and posed for this shot. My little reminder that, cliche as it may sound, anything is possible.