Wednesday, August 07, 2013

That first step

I met my friend, L, at lunch yesterday. L and her husband, are moving to Australia later this month. This is not their first trip to Australia. The couple have had a month-long vacation in Sydney and have enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

I asked L if she was excited about the impending move. She replied that she was excited, but that this time around there was an element of fear, of uncertainty, of discomfort, at the thought of rebuilding their lives from scratch. From finding a job to finding a house, getting settled into their new routine, adjusting to new neighbours, a land where almost everyone was a stranger, learning the ins and outs of their new home-city, learning to fit in -- all these were fraught with peril.

So much of our lives depend on things being the way they have always been, of being able to predict just how things will go, that it must be unsettling to have to relearn everything all over again.

Her uncertainties reminded me that it isn't children alone who are wary of taking those first few steps. As a mother of two young children under the age of 5, I remember well how nervous both of them were about putting their best foot forward. They would walk by holding the furniture or the wall, but it was a while before they felt confident enough to risk falling just for the joy of walking.

My husband and I, and their paternal grandparents, would urge them on, tell them to start walking, that we were close at hand, that we would never let them fall. But I knew from one look at La Niña's face, and later on at El Niño's face when it was his turn, that it wasn't so easy to believe us.

I remember getting frustrated at such times that they were not willing to listen to me.

Yesterday after L mentioned her fears to me, I realised the fear of taking that first step. I've felt that way too. So often. So very often.

I've been ready with my short stories for years, but I don't have the courage to put them together and approach a publisher. I can't take those first few steps. I'm afraid of rejection, of being told that my writing, about which I feel as a mother feels for her young, isn't good enough. I'm afraid of being told that the world has no use for me or my writing. It makes better sense to hide my writing, to only risk exposing some of it to the feeble recognition, and relative obscurity and, dare I say it -- safety, that this blog provides.

The conversation with L also helped me realise how slow I have been at taking the first step. How I have been wrong in having high expectations of my children when I appear to be incapable of taking my own advice.

But children are far quicker on the uptake than we are. They quickly realise that the fear of falling is nothing compared to the joy of being able to walk. And as simply as that, one day, when you are busy doing something else, they will take those first steps. And having taken them, they will walk all day, as if their little minds realise that they have wasted a lot of time and there is much ground that needs to be covered.

Maybe it is time I learned something from my kids about the importance of taking that first step, no matter how difficult or frightening it seems.

(This post has been written in response to the prompt, First Steps, on GBE 2.)


  1. Interesting, a writer and an editor and i would think you're FEARLESS and i suppose since you wrote about it you are almost there!!!!!! (i so can relate) Your friends adventure sounds fascinating too!

  2. Love this take on 1st steps "the fear of falling is nothing compared to the joy of being able to walk."!

    Very thought provoking post!

  3. First, the fear of rejection, I so understand that. When I was younger I had a heightened level of that fear. I wrote and I filed it away, for my eyes only.
    Then well into my 50's a friend told me, clean it up and send it off. Get a professional rejection or 20 and you'll learn what they are looking for. You can then do that, or just continue to write for your own pleasure. Or you can make audio books and sell them or give them away. They are easy and you'll have the pleasure of sharing your work without fear of rejection. Your friends will just listen to them and say nothing or compliment your work. It's an easy way to share. It worked for me.
    I also sent dozens of queries and follow ups and samples and synopsis' to dozens of publishers. No takers and a few great comments. It was not the kind of work I enjoyed doing, the prep work, i mean. In hindsight, I'm glad I did it and I'm equally glad I self published on Amazon and Nook. It worked for me and I made a little money and got a tremendous confidence boost. It's a first step!

  4. lovely post Cynthia.. it is always a little fearful while taking the first steps.. as a regular reader of your blog posts let me tell you .. you have nothing to fear about .. please start contacting publishers with your story.. :) :) and all the very best dear :)

  5. Thought provoking post.

    Please do try to get your book published.

    Rejections are not easy to accept, but they're not the end of the world. The Beatles faced many rejections before their first album was released. So did J. K. Rowling.



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