If you are called to write, may you never doubt that precious call.
Why allow your history to define your future? It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. It matters what you do right now. Be courageous. Listen to your truth more than to any expert.
You are more powerful than you know. As a creative individual, it’s your birthright to reshape this world rather than to fit into general guidelines. A true voice is a fire that will burn away limits. The problem with creative individuals isn’t that they can’t face “reality.” It’s that they do, and they let it eclipse their instincts.
I abandoned a law practice to write. The desire to write was an ache like a shard of glass in my rib. I couldn’t breathe until I got my words out. I wrote my first book This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love (the book I needed to read) for 12 years without an agent, a publisher or any connections.
I filled journals with self-doubts, and probably decimated a forest. I’d despair when I read about what it took to get published. It was this horrible catch-22: How was I supposed to have a platform when I couldn’t get published and build my platform? How was I supposed to have writing credentials when everyone wanted to see writing credentials before they’d accept a piece? Besides, I wasn’t skinny, blonde or even maimed by a diabolical cult.
I decided I had one credential that would go all the way, no matter what: I felt called to do this. That sounded messianic and self-serving, but I decided that the gnawing feeling might really just be a knowing. And I needed to know.
Feeling embarrassed, I told a friend I wanted to be published and even “go big.” My friend acknowledged, “It’s your note.” And then I understood and said, “Yes. I feel like it’s the level of expression that feels real to me. It’s my note. It’s the note I came to sing.”
Suddenly my desire didn’t seem garish, naive, or narcissistic. It was just the truth. It felt as natural as the inclination to use my right hand, or to love red maple leaves, or hate anyone, anywhere, who could wear Lycra and look decent. It felt involuntary. I realized then that we don’t get to choose our calling. We get to choose whether or not we will listen to each nudge, whether or not we will believe, and whether or not we will dedicate ourselves to this territory of potential. This need for expression was no longer about my ego. It was about my integrity.
Still, I had to practice choosing to believe over and over again as I worked without validation.
I finally self-published my first book. It spread through word of mouth. Then, four months later, I got an email that said, “I am your Fairy Godmother.” The email came from a former VP of Marketing and Publicity from Random House. She wrote, “This is the best book I’ve read on finding your calling, and I want to get it into the hands of a major New York publisher.” She got it to Tarcher, back then Tarcher/Penguin, the company I had always fantasized about. Tarcher bought my self-published book. Not only that, but they kept the design, the title, and my writing intact, editing maybe 10 sentences. They have since bought my next three books as well.
Today, I have a following for my writing throughout the world. I coach others on writing, moving through uncertainty, and on living their calling. I lead retreats and speak. I have these “credentials” because I believed in the voice within me more than I believed in the voices of “the authorities” I read in how-to books.
I urge you to stay true to your integrity. Listen to what only you know inside. Choose to believe you have your dreams for a reason. Then work like mad on your craft. Submit. Speak. Grow. And never give up.
You have words our world needs. Remember, there is no greater credential than fire, quality, and uncorrupted inspiration.
Don’t wait for permission. Write per your mission.