I just entered a prestigious writing contest.
It took three days of emotional blood, sweat and tears to write this story. I gave it 100% and, even though I know it has some flaws, I'm proud of it. I wrote about family and friendship ... and an ominous intergalactic agency whose mission may or may not be evil.
I may have said this before, but bear with me since my memory is about as long as my fingernails (and I keep them cut short for piano, guitar and handling small children):
I've invested years of my life training my singing voice. Not because I wanted to improve upon a talent but because I had no musical talent to begin with. And I love music. And singing makes me happy. So I wanted to be able to do it better. So I invested a lot of money and time and effort into learning how to sing. I consider myself somewhat capable now, but I lack things that can't be taught.
On the other hand, I have always had a natural aptitude for writing. I wrote poetry through elementary school, took AP English classes, acted as editor-in-chief for my high school yearbook, attended young writer's conferences, devoured literature voraciously, and majored in Communications in college. (I've also been blogging since 2003, folks! I had no idea it had been that long!) It's the one natural talent I think God gave to me. And I have completely neglected it.
I put it up on a shelf, scared to death of what would happen if I ever took it down and dusted it off. Why? Because if I put my heart and soul into the one thing I do the best, and it's still not very good, where does that leave me? Feeling pathetic, that's where.
So when I wrote stories in the last few years, I said proudly, "This is just therapeutic. It's for me, because I love to write." Kind of like, "See? I don't care if you don't like it, because it's not for you anyway."
At some point in the last year, though, that wasn't good enough anymore. I am ready to put myself out there, open to criticism and rejection, because I believe in myself. And I am sick of burying a talent in the sand. Yeah, it might not be much of a talent, but it's all I got so I should make the most of it.
So today marks the first day when I open myself up to real, legitimate rejection. And I fully expect to get that rejection letter in the email box a couple months from now. It'll sting a bit, but it's better than never trying. The real triumph here is me choosing to take the leap.