Learning to Dream

light beams shining through white clouds with a pink, purple and indigo sky in the background - Photo by Min An: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sky-reflection-illustration-953724/

I’ve always felt self-conscious about sharing my writing. School assignments, blog updates, and my stories. Ridicule and criticism were the most regular parts of my life growing up, and somewhere along the way I began to believe that was all I could expect from other people when I shared any part of myself.

Last year, a few months after I began volunteering with the Writers’ Guild, I connected with some critique partners and began exchanging writing pieces. It stressed me out. I lost sleep. I would edit until two (and sometimes four) in the morning whether or not I had work the next day. Their feedback was positive and supportive. Afterwards I would always wonder why I was nervous to begin with.

I’m well read enough to know what makes a good story. I’ve written entire books that I’ve never shown anyone. I’ve been studying the practice of writing, editing, story structure, character development, and more for the past two years while I work on my novel. All of that has been a slow build towards transitioning to life as a writer. I love my job, and my quiet little life, but I’ve always wanted to be a full time writer.

In November, I applied for a program with my local writing Guild to work as an apprentice with an experienced writing mentor. Last week I found out that I was selected.

After I found out, my friends gave me a chorus of “I told you so’s” in response (because the people in my life are more confident about my writing talent than I am).

I had an anxiety attack when I read the email. I cried. My mind conjured up a bunch of reasons why I didn’t deserve it. Dread crept in soon after… The mentorship is supposed to conclude with a public reading of the piece that was worked on during the course of the mentorship. My writing piece. Read by me in front of a crowd.

I had to lay down.

I thought about quitting. Ghosting. Doing anything I could to get myself out of this commitment. Dark thoughts, too.

When my heart rate calmed down, and I was breathing normally again, I read the rest of the email. There was an attachment with my mentor’s information, her approach to teaching, writing history, and experiences as a writer. Her name is Donna Besel, and she helps writers find their voice by focusing on emotional honesty. In my application, I explained that I live with anxiety and depression, and that I started writing my novel as a means to explore, understand, and work through those emotional struggles. I feel like Donna is a good fit for me as my mentor, and I’m very excited to see how things will go.

I meet her for the first time Friday!

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