Monday, February 20, 2012

may the odds be ever in your favor

HUGE FAN. Why can't
I come up with an
idea like this?
I have three solid reasons for tonight's insomnia:

1. I had a Diet Coke at about 10:00.

2. I let my boys stay up until 11:30 playing video games. A special treat since there's no school tomorrow; however I can never really go to sleep until I know all my babies are tucked in. (Hence the reason I don't like sleepovers...I never rest. When they are teenagers out on dates and driving around - I'm doomed.)

3. We have our own miniature - and loud - version of the Hunger Games going on in Connor's room. Connor has a bearded dragon named George who eats crickets twice a week. When you think about it, Petco grooms the contestants (crickets) in preparation for survival in the arena (George's cage) where, after being dusted in protein powder and released, most quickly meet their maker. However today we have a couple of well-trained survivors who managed to hide out through the day and are now keeping me up with nonstop chirping. (What do you call the noise a cricket makes? I Googled it and came up empty). Anyway, all well and good if we were in the wilderness sleeping under the stars in a tent; not so much when I'm in my cal king at home. Shut. up. insects.

Used to be that the rare sleepless night always left me thinking about work - and I ended up getting stressed out about unfinished projects or issues that needed to be addressed, which ended up keeping me awake even longer. Now it has me thinking about things I want to write about, things I should write about, things I can't write about...and perhaps most importantly all the writing I haven't done yet when I just quit my job to write.

Thinking about it is like getting overwhelmed at the menu when you go to the Cheesecake Factory. Who on earth can choose something for dinner with like 32 pages of delicious sounding food? And ads for killer shoes and jewelry to pull you off task? For me, it's the same with writing - when I start thinking about all the things I want to write about, all the things I have to say...I get overwhelmed. At Cheesecake, I just order the cobb salad. At home, I just go on facebook. But...witty status updates do not a writing career make.

I love the funny, honest memoir-style writing of my current literary hero, Jen Lancaster. However I'm not sure I have the fortitude to withstand the repercussions of being so brutally honest. Once I open that door, it will never be completely closed again. Will my friends and family mind being thrown under the bus - or having dirty laundry aired (with permission, of course) - every now and then for the sake of a chuckle or a poignant story? That might be asking a lot.

I could go the fiction route, a la J.K Rowling. I have always had some key characters and scenarios swimming around together in my brain, waiting to be sewn together into the next young adult literary classic. But just the thought of sitting down at he keyboard and figuring out where to start makes me want to go make myself a stiff drink and play Words with Friends. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

So as it's been often in my life...when I feel overwhelmed, or like I might upset someone, or am lacking in self confidence, I tuck it all away and hold it close to the vest. I retreat into my tortoise shell and busy myself with what needs to be done, and is in the safe zone - which is easy for me now with a family of five. God knows there is plenty to do. My house is always dirty, there's always laundry to be done, and there's always something on the grocery list. Always.

There have been many key moments in my life growing up when I've been really good at something, and really, really wanted it; but was never quite good enough to be the best, the chosen one, part of the group. And the way I think I learned to cope with the failure or rejection is to just pull myself out of the running altogether before any damage can be done. There have been moments when my abrupt retreat cost me opportunities, goals, trust, even friendships; and I have regrets that haunt me to this day.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a pity party; and I've had some very meaningful successes in my life, too. Not the least of which is finding and marrying Larry and being blessed with three beautiful children. I don't think I thought I'd ever find that kind of happiness, but I did. But at the core, day in and day out, is a disproportionate lack of self confidence that nags at me. Pretty much always.

I've wanted to be a writer since I was in high school. Now, finally, I've committed, I've told everyone I'm gonna do it, and I cannot retreat - because although I think this is my best chance to succeed, I also think this is my last chance. May the odds be ever in my favor...for old demons continue to rear their ugly heads...

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