I’ve come to terms with the fact that deadlines are a necessary evil. Deadlines are daunting to me, but I realize that without them, I would probably remain in an invisible cocoon of protection from the world.
Last week, I was scheduled to send a short story to an already published writer for some helpful feedback. I was excited, contemplating the importance and value of her help. The sample only needed to be two to three pages long; not much, really. I already knew the topic, the conflict, the setting, and the characters involved. Parts of the dialogue played in a loop inside my head. I even had a rough draft.
However, the thought of putting the elements together and making this fragmented idea into something cohesive and enjoyable filled me with terror. Writer’s block, one might say, but what is writer’s block if not an amplified fear of inadequacy?
The minutes ticked away. The deadline came closer, but I wasn’t ready. It was one hour before the agreed time of submission, and suddenly, I had an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach.
At first, I thought I was getting sick. Great! I had an honest excuse not to submit anything. I could ask for an extension, and I didn’t have to feel guilty. After all, I had come down with a bug. Sure, what could go wrong?
I would be letting myself down.
I have come to know myself well enough to understand that the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach had nothing to do with illness. It was familiar to me, and I had endured this feeling many times before in the last four years. The gnawing in my stomach was a manifestation of my fear.
So, I ignored the little voices in my head telling me to hide and submitted the short story. It wasn’t perfect, but I had finished it. Worrying about perfection, inadequacy, and likability was (is) only going to hinder my growth. Vulnerability and art often come hand in hand. How can we learn to walk without falling once in a while?