Why Aren’t You Facing Your Fears?

no-fearI just returned from the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International conference (WPPI) in Las Vegas, and I’m over-the-moon jazzed with excitement! My fiance is a wedding photographer and I work for him part time – hence my attendance at the conference. Indeed, much of the conference was about creativity, technique, and a photographer’s unique eye. But the sessions that got me excited were the ones about creating a sustainable business.

Many of us write as a hobby. We dream about being published and writing full time someday. WPPI was full of practical advice on marketing, workflow, and customer service, but the stuff that got me thrumming with ideas were the classes that asked:

Why aren’t you facing your fears and committing to this?

If you’ve been following my Facebook or Twitter feeds, you probably read some of the following quotes as I tweeted from the conference floor. For this post, I’ve collected them together to share. And boy, do they provide one helluva kick in the pants!

The Hard Truth:

  • “You can be passionate about what you do and still suck at business. Being passionate isn’t the whole picture.” – Jeff Jochum

On Fear:

  • Fear“Fear will cause you to lose focus every time, because you’re looking at all the potential for failure, instead of concentrating on success.” – Dave Ramsey
  • “The more fear we have of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” – Steven Pressfield
  • “The only limitations are those we set up in our minds.” – Napoleon Hill
  • “Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.” – Jaleel King
  • “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it only empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom
  • “Vulnerability equals value. It shows people you’re human and real.” – WPPI
  • “Fear is an opportunity for courage. We are all afraid, which means we all have the opportunity to be courageous.” – D Park Photo
  • “Remembering you are going to die is the one way to avoid the trap of fearing you have something to lose.” – Steve Jobs
  • “Fear gives you excuses for why not. But you can give a million and one excuses for why not. Beware of everything becoming an excuse. It becomes a way to keep yourself from living.” – Jaleel King

“You can either live in your fears or live in your dreams. Most people choose to live in their fears.” – Jeff Jochum

On Compromise:

  • “If you limit your choices to what seems possible and reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want and all that’s left is compromise.” – Anais Nin

On Impostor Syndrome:

  • “When you’re an artist, nobody ever tells you or hits you with the magic wand of legitimacy. You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it.” – Amanda Palmer

Surrounding Yourself With the Right Influences:

  • “You will become the average of your 5 closest friends. It’s always easier to pull someone else down, than it is to pull them up.”
  • “Where you will be in 5 years depends on two things: the books you read and the people you hang out with.” – Zack & Jody Grey
  • “The number one enemy of learning is experience. You think you already know everything.” – Jeff Jochum

On Finding a Balance:

  • “Live in the tension of who you are and who you want to be.” – Dane Sanders
  • “Expression beats perfection.” – Bambi Cantrell
  • “What is it that makes you feel like you’re not good enough? Flip this logic. Define what you love about yourself. This changes the energy from “I’m not good enough.” to “You’re just not right for me.” When you say you’re not good enough. This is YOU rejecting You!” – Jeff Jochum”

This is only a taste of the awesomeness that was WPPI! More inspiring blog posts to come!

“Stop hiding in insecurity. Start sharing your story, and begin your legacy.” – Katelyn James

Writerly Doubts?

writing-a-letterGuest post by Peter Langella

Dear Writer,

It’s easy to think that what you’re writing doesn’t matter. It could be years before it’s published, if it’s ever even published at all, and it’s hard to imagine that someone else is out there waiting to read your words.

You’re wrong.

While it’s true that many of the students I work with as a high school librarian are too concerned with their smartphones, sports teams, and other extra-curriculars to care much about your characters, there’s also a core group of readers out there practically salivating for more books.

I know one student who checks in daily about new books, even though he knows that we don’t get new books everyday. When I told him that we order many of our books online and therefore can’t necessarily pinpoint a delivery date, he simply insisted that was all the more reason for him to check daily. He just doesn’t want to miss the chance to read a new book before the rest of his peers.

girl with booksI know a girl who checks out so many books that we often have to ask her to return them because others have put them on hold. These conversations can get a little dicey. She reads multiple books at a time, and she is very protective over the books she’s reading. First she gets mad, then a little sad, then she starts coming up with terms to a deal, like what if she finishes book x by Thursday if I agree to renew book y for two more weeks? It’s refreshing to see her so connected to the books she loves.

There’s this one guy who has no joke read every graphic novel we have. He’s barely ever said a word to me, and he rarely checks a book out, but he always sits in the same chair during his free block, devouring graphic novels. I buy new ones for him based on the notes he drops in our suggestion box, and every once in a while I’ll hand him something I think he’ll like. He doesn’t respond, instead just retreating to his chair, but I know if he likes it or not by the amount of time he spends with a particular title.

Our state teen-choice reading award is called the Green Mountain Book Award. We have a display of the fifteen nominees for this year and a punch-card with pictures of all the book covers. Students who read at least four books on the list (and get four punches) are then invited a special voting/make-your-own-sundae party in the spring. The student or students with the most punches will receive a gift card to our local independent bookstore. Long story short, one girl read five of the books over the summer and wanted to make sure that she got credit for it. She said that one of the books is her new favorite book and the writer of that book is her new favorite author and her mom could come in and tell us all about how many times over the summer she read that book and the other ones too and could we please find a way to punch her card even though she didn’t check the books out of our library. I didn’t make her mom come in.

teen boy readingI know one boy who’s pretty athletic and usually hangs around with his teammates. When they’re done doing a little group work and chatting and it’s time to leave the library, he often lingers, fiddling with his backpack or pretending to tie his shoe, that kind of thing. Once his friends are gone, he’ll head to the fiction section to grab something to read. Sometimes he’ll talk about books or ask for a recommendation, too. After he makes his selection, he calmly places the book in his bag and walks out. I don’t think his “friends” have any idea that he reads so much, but who cares? He clearly loves it, and it’s okay that it’s a private activity for right now.

There’s a girl who always notices when a display changes. New nonfiction? She reads the blurbs. QR codes linking to book trailers? She whips her phone out immediately. A sign? Reads it. A post on our webpage? Asks about it. And no matter what, she always has a book under her arm. Or two.

Teen readingI enter the school building through a side door every morning. Without fail, I see two students in that section of hallway. The first is a girl sitting in the doorway of her first class, knees tucked up under her chin, a book about two inches away from her face. Sometimes she’ll look up and say hi, but most of the time she doesn’t. She’s too entranced with the novel. The second student is a guy who walks and reads. Sometimes he’s pacing up and down the hall, other times he’s practically spinning in circles, completely lost in the pages he’s trying to devour.

I could keep going, but I hope you get the point. These kids exist. Still. In 2013. Their brothers and sisters and friends exist, too. I see them every day. They crave your words at a level that is nearly impossible to explain, although I’ve tried. They need you to keep writing. They need you to stay confident. So please, the next time you feel overwhelmed by the blinking cursor in front of you, think of these readers or someone like them and just start typing. You never know who’s trying to peek over your shoulder from afar.

Peter LangellaSincerely,

Peter Langella

p.s. I needed this just as much as you did.

Peter Patrick Langella holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He lives and writes in Vermont and thinks elevenses should be recognized by his employer.

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