In her post yesterday on Writer Unboxed, Ann Aguirre exhorted her readers to think big, to believe in six impossible things before breakfast. An uplifting message.
What stayed with me the most, however, was this list:
(1) Graduated college
(2) Moved to a foreign country
(3) Got an agent
(4) Sold a debut SF novel written in first person, present tense, that one agent called unsellable
(5) Became a national bestselling author
(6) Sold nearly 20 books in three years
These were the things she was told she couldn't do, that she'd gone on to achieve.
That shows courage and confidence and determination.
Why did the list make such an impression on me? Because these qualities:
- fear rather than to brave the unknown;
- discount and second-guess my abilities and decisions;
- refrain from committing to anything I am not absolutely sure of.
These people were not necessarily trying to be discouraging. They were probably just throwing out considerations. And most likely they didn't expect someone to falter so easily.
I've given up on a few other dreams such as this and still cannot think about them without that twinge of regret in my gut. Even though I am committed to living a life without regret, and objectively I know that my life is good, I do allow that twinge to surface as a reminder not to step on the well-worn, much smoother path of giving up, but to take out my machete and cleavers and chop my way through the brambles and thorn bushes of the path I need to travel on.
Now I write fiction. This pursuit is understood only by those others who are engaged in similar activities--artists, musicians, authors. To the pragmatic and uninterested, what I do is pure foolishness. But the post yesterday helped me realize that I've come a long way, baby; I've learn to say "nay" to the naysayers, especially the one from within myself.
So, I invite you to join me in standing tall, holding strong to your beliefs, and say a loud, NAY (don't you think its old-fashioned quality makes it even more effective?) to the naysayers who assault you from without and within.
*I chose these two conductors because the first one, Alondra de la Pana, formed her orchestra single-handedly and the second one, Shi-Yeon Sung, broke into the all-male ranks of conductors of the Boston Symphony, one of the most prestigious of orchestras. And oh, she started her music career as a pianist, as did so many other conductors. Read the story of de la Pana's Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas. From the story of Sung's debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, I find the following passage particularly inspiring:
...she admitted the difficulty of the situation, pointing out that 50 years ago there were almost no women playing in orchestras. "Nowadays, nobody says 'a woman musician' in an orchestra. And the situation [with conductors] is changing," she wrote, noting not only [Marin} Alsop but the Australian opera conductor Simone Young and JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
"I really hope that soon I won't get this question [of being a woman conductor] any more," she added.