In the summer of 1980, my mom was eight months pregnant with my brother. The house – a split-level in the woods of New Hampshire – needed to be painted. So she did it. By herself.
I remember watching from the driveway, looking up at her perch on the ladder to the second story, as she spread the cream colored paint across the clapboards.
It didn’t matter that my dad was flipping out. Or that everyone around her told her to get off the damn ladder. Because no one tells my mom what to do.
That sort of fire, that tenacity, however distressing to those around us, is built into the women in my family. It’s as genetic as high cheekbones and full lips.
Tell me I can’t do something and I’ll do it to spite you.
Fast-forward to 1995. I got a German shepherd puppy, which I intended to show. Because it was interesting, this whole subculture of training and exhibiting dogs. And because I love animals.
My mother: “You can’t show dogs. That’s for rich people.”
Frankly, she should have known better.
I just nodded and did it anyway. And lo, in 2010, this happened. (Skip to the 8:30 mark and watch the gentleman with the white hair.)
That’s my girl winning Best of Breed at Westminster Kennel Club. That’s right, the prestigious and televised dog show held at Madison Square Garden each year. She did it. And then she went on to win Herding Group Four on TV that night. (As I type this, she is sleeping at my feet.)
So don’t tell me I can’t. Ever.
“You can’t be a reporter.”
“You can’t write a book.”
“You can’t start your own business.”
Done. Done, three times. And done.
Did I freak out? Every damn time. Then I did it anyway.
Because the only way out is through.
Because how would I know if I didn’t try?
Here’s the thing.
We all get insecure. We all feel scared and overwhelmed. Like we want to curl into ourselves, possibly under two or three LL Bean down comforters – while in flannel pajamas from two days before – and never, ever come out.
What you do about it is what makes the difference.
Feel the fear and do it anyway. Write your story. Try.
Anything can happen.
For the record, my mother had my brother a month after the house was painted. No complications. He was fat and healthy, and is now a genius. So there’s that.
Sometimes people say you can’t do something because they’re worried about you. How you’ll cope with the process or the outcome, or both. Sometimes they say you can’t because they don’t understand that sort of yearning or desire. And that’s okay. No one else has to like what you do with your life.
But for God’s sake, don’t give in to the naysayers. Go with your gut.
I do all the time.
And here are two gifts for you for coming along with me.
From Saturday, March 8, to Wednesday, March 12, my Amazon #1 Bestseller THE Guide will be free. Grab a copy for yourself, your friends, the writer in your life. Mark it on your calendar and I’ll remind you later.
A new cell phone app for writers is now underway. The lovely Lindsey Collins is whipping it into submission right now. What will it do? Send daily writing inspiration to your phone, naturally – but not just any inspiration. My special brand of “get off your ass” combined with videos, pics and funky quotes – direct to your pocket. How cool is that?
A taste: “Fire breathing dragons cannot keep you from the page. Write. Now.” (Click to tweet.)
It’s fun doing what everyone said you couldn’t.
Want to learn more about writing like YOU? I’m polishing a new product that will teach you exactly that. Join our subscriber list (upper right-hand corner) to hear more about it and get a discount when it’s released. I’ll also let you know when the cell phone app is available.