Today I clicked here and found out I hadn’t posted in a month. A month! What is up with that? The good news is I have been busy with so many writing assignments. Last week a job teaching creative writing to emerging writers fell out of the sky and landed in my lap, too. I am still ironing out details for that, but oh my, I have talked about formally teaching writing for years.
A funny thing happened when the unexpected text about teaching came my way. It felt like kismet, like yes, of course, take the job. But I have had some bad job experiences, enough that I make myself really think before I take a job now. I want to be better about saying yes and saying no. So I gave myself a day to ponder, and asked trusted friends for their opinion. Some had good questions, but almost everyone said, “Say yes!”
I said yes, but in the back of my mind I remember my last work nightmare. How I wanted to quit but wouldn’t let myself. The day they let me go before the end of the contract, I knew what the meeting was about. Still, for a perfectionist, a firing feels like failure. The person doing the dirty deed said all the right things. “You didn’t fail! You are a good writer! I would hire you for the right job again! This wasn’t a good fit, and we both should have realized this. And I like your hat! It matches your eyes!”
I carry this experience with me and I think through new opportunities for at least 24 hours now. Because when I was being hired for that job, a small voice inside of me said, “Um, this kind of writing is not your strength.”
So, is teaching writing to kids one of my gifts? Dude, I know I am good at teaching writing to kids. I have been teaching writing to kids at schools in one-stop visits ever since I graduated from high school. Two weeks ago, I taught writing to two classes of sixth graders. It was fantastically fun.
Still, every single time a wonderful job I have always dreamed of accepting comes my way, I spend time thinking I can’t do this task. When I signed my book contract, I was elated for a day. Then there was a long period of dread. I’m not talking days. I am talking months of dread. I thought the editor would call and say, “Oh, we were wrong, you can’t write two books. We are tearing up the contract.”
I actually skimmed the contract and realized the only way I was getting out of the contract was by dying. Death was not an option. As soon as I started writing the books, I remembered I was a writer. Mind you, this was after months of interviewing more than 50 health professionals. Ask my husband and my good friends what those months were like. I was insufferable and terrified, and I worked my ass off.
And I wrote two great books that are still in print. My co-author and I met up recently and she told me she highlighted them while re-reading them recently. She is currently talking at libraries about the books. “The books are really well written!” she said told me yesterday.
Why if I know that I am good at teaching writing was I full of doubt? Because I am a human being; fear is part of my human nature. I even have fear around my greatest strengths. Luckily I have family and friends to remind me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. And even when I fail, there is a blessing in each failure. Losing that job more than a year ago taught me to really think about the jobs I now take. This is a good thing. Life is short. And last night when I told my two girls I was nervous about my latest gig, they both offered up their help. They cannot wait for me to practice teaching writing with them. This, this, this is reason enough to take both my hands, place my fear in them, and blow that fear away from me. Game on!
Dream jobs sometimes morph into sleepless nights.
I found out I hopeful