Life is not a spectator sport; win, lose or draw, the game is in progress whether we want it to be or not. So go ahead, argue with the refs, change the rules, cheat a little, take a break and tend to your wounds. But play hard, play fast, play loose and free; play as if there’s no tomorrow… It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game, right? ~Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey on Grey’s Anatomy
They say that life should not be a spectator sport, but I am often more comfortable living that way. I’d rather watch and listen than get actively involved. Now, don’t go thinking I’m a hermit. I’m not. Well, sometimes maybe I am. But it’s not like I’m not friendly or don’t associate with others or have friends. By all means, I do. I just don’t mind and often prefer to be alone. I also don’t like trying new things. I find comfort in routines. I suppose one could call me a creature of habit.
As of lately, I have been trying to force myself to step outside the box. I am not saying that I am performing irresponsible tasks or being extremely risky. I am merely stepping outside my comfort zone. Mind you, there are many things that I find stressful , mostly because I lack confidence in those areas. I tried (and loved) kayaking. I am even scheduled to fly (which I abhor) to go on a trip in a few months. However, I think my biggest progress has been in putting myself out there in the writing world.
I took my first baby step (which felt like a giant leap!) a year and a half ago by joining a local writers group. I enjoy writing, but I often agonize over it. I never felt I had the talent to produce works that people would actually enjoy or even want to read. Eight months later I opened my blog. I joined a writing community…Yes, I dared to call myself a writer! I even participated in a workshop and am scheduled to attend a writers conference.
Two nights ago, I took it upon myself to try another writers group. It was interesting. It was more of a critique group. They took turns reading their work. I did NOT get up enough nerve to read anything. The majority of the group were sci-fi/fantasy writers which I do not read, write, or even know much about. There was a mystery writer and a horror writer. I was impressed with both of their work. One woman arrived late, and she appeared to be the most intersting one of the group, but she didn’t read. I left before the last one read. The time had been monopolized by a guy who apparently loved his own work and thought he knew how to rewrite everyone elses’. OUCH! Not sure if I want to go back and get mine ripped apart. It doesn’t appear that any of them write the same type of material as I write. I went to a memoir group the next night and no one showed up. Though I was not successful, at least I attempted to step out of my box two more times.
There’s more. I have sent a couple of submissions out and even entered a couple of competitions. I have gotten one submission reply, and my essay/creative nonfiction was accepted. I also received the dreaded notification that I was NOT the winner of a contest. But I didn’t let it get me down. I sent out another submission anyway. The problem with submissions is that they are time consuming, not to mention most places will not accept work published anywhere including a personal blog. Still, I am continuing to put myself out there. I’m sure it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it’s tremendous. I don’t take rejection well. I wallow in it and beat myself to smithereens. I realize that generally we are our own worst critics. I am trying to stifle my inner critic.
I have some bigger projects in the works, and only hope I can keep the confidence to follow them through. The problem is that when I start something I am really excited. The whole idea sounds great…then I get started. I start to lack inspiration and lose confidence. And I drop the ball. I am trying to refocus and not let that happen this time.
So, I am back to life being a spectator sport. Many would call writing a spectator sport. I look and listen. Doesn’t sound as if I am engaged. But yet I am. I am engaged on the page. I live it as I write it, as I struggle for perfection amongst the jumble of ideas and words. I fight with myself. I cry. I love. I fear. I laugh. I live. I write.