It’s summer—long hot days, nights blinking with neon fireflies and the sounds of crickets lulling me to sleep. But it’s also a time to slow down and perhaps tackle a long-ago shelved project. I always try and accomplish something in the summer that teaches me something new. Sometimes it’s a trip to a country I have never seen, other times I read a book that I have been avoiding or I finish a story or rewrite chapters. Last summer I spent the entire summer rewriting my book and sending out queries to literary agents. Finding an agent is a full time job—trust me!
This summer I have an opportunity to take an eight week screenwriting course in NYC at the NY Film Academy. The course is quite intense; I attend class Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. When I registered for the class, I was told I would be required to produce writing every evening after class. I am looking forward to this not only with great anticipation, but also a healthy amount of anxiety…What if I can’t write on demand? What if my story collapses under scrutiny? What if my characters have no depth? What if I find out I have no writing talent at all? All these ask the real question: What if I fail?
When I was younger, the fear of failing kept me from pursuing my dreams. Age has taught me that Franklin D. Roosevelt’s adage; “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” has never been truer. By pushing through and facing my fears I discovered I could do much more than what I believed. By organizing events and fundraisers, I realized that have excellent organization skills. After I learned that a woman had stolen an entire book from me, I was afraid that I would never be able to write again. I was wrong. Eventually, I forgave her (even though she never asked for it) and started to write once again. For quite some time I believed I was too old to begin a new career and was afraid to take a class to earn my MFA. But I soon learned that age is a distinct advantage and now I take great satisfaction when I am the oldest one in the group.
But most of all, I feared that I would fail at the only thing I wanted to do: Write. For most of my life, I never let anyone read my work because I was afraid of the reaction. When I finally got enough courage to take my first creative writing course, on the day on which my short story was to be read and critiqued, I stayed at home—sick to my stomach. I will never forget when my story was finally read aloud. I received some criticism, but to my joy, I also received accolades! It was a day I will always remember; because it was the moment I faced and conquered one of my greatest fears.
This summer I challenge you to do something that would normally cause you anxiety. Read a influential or classic book you have never read before. Take a course in a subject that is out of your comfort zone. Apologize to someone you have wronged. Take a trip somewhere and avoid anything touristy. Introduce yourself to someone new and make a friend. Spend the summer writing letters instead of emailing or texting. Make a goal to face and conquer something you fear. Without a doubt you will uncover a new talent, skill or passion.