Changing Can't into Can

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This past few months I’ve read several blogs that have discussed believing in yourself as a writer. One post that hit home for me is by Jennifer Blanchard of Procrastinating Writers. In her post Believe in Yourself and the Writing Will Come Jennifer discusses replacing limitations with possibilities. Since building confidence and replacing my can’ts with cans has been especially important this last year her words are of great interest to me. I’ve known I wanted to write for a couple of decades now, but giving myself permission to do so took a long time. Bit by bit, considering both the perceived and the real limitations in my life, I have come a long way. I’ve already accomplished more than I ever thought possible. But in the past couple of years I’ve had the nagging feeling I could accomplish even more.

I want to write novels.

Edged with emotion and trepidation it has been, for some time now, the thought that won’t go away. It wakes me at night. It tugs at my heart strings during the day. It fills every crack and crevice of my life causing me to neglect art clients and job responsibilities, abandon laundry and housekeeping—and often times common sense—and shut myself in my office to write, and write.

And write.

My first great effort, above and beyond short stories and essays, was a novella, a coming of age story about a young boy named Martin. When I sent it out to the world it was met with mixed reviews. One publisher said he loved it and wanted to publish it the following March. When March rolled around his company had gone out of business. Another publisher said they would love to publish it—if only I were already an author of note, or if I was a man. Only men, they said, should write coming of age stories about young boys. Two more publishers said they loved my writing, it just wasn’t right for them. One author I knew told me, “You know, you just weren’t meant to write books.”

I believed her.

I believed her because early on that’s what I’d been taught: You should not write. You have no talent for it. You will make a fool of yourself.

Those words played over and over in my head like background music in a bad movie. So much so that if I even sat down to type I felt immense guilt. Until what other writers have aptly termed voices in my head haunted me and I had to write again. I abandoned the thought of writing a novel, but I had an essay published by a magazine I never thought would be interested in my work. Then a short story, then two, then three, published. It felt good. I told myself it was enough.

It wasn’t.

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t write novels.

I want to. I want to. I want to write novels.

I came to a point last year where I got tired of the battle. I decided I had nothing to lose. Now, three requests for full manuscripts from editors and one request for a full from a noted agent later, I have witnessed how changing can’ts into can’s changes everything.

Still, believing in myself and building confidence is an ongoing process. I pray one day it will get easier for me to write without guilt. But for now striving to replace impossibilities with possibilities continues to be something I must work on every day.

4 comments:

Teri said...

Thank you! I needed this!

Angie said...

Hooray for you! That's great. Good luck with your novel.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Oooh. Why do people say such hurtful things to others? But take heart, someone once told me something very similar. I decided to prove him wrong. Took more years than I thought, but finally I can show him that I can write books. Except I can't remember his name. Now that's sad...

Lori Nawyn said...

Thank you, Teri and Angie.

Kathi, good for you! I love that you decided to prove him wrong--and how! You are a talented writer. I'm glad you didn't listen to him.

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