By Kathleen Bradean
Happiness is a conscious choice, I’ve come to believe. I try to be content with most of my life, and to work on the areas that I can’t be content with. Regrets are good only if they help me to move forward, because in our linear time continuum, going back isn’t an option.
The only thing I truly regret is fear.
From Dune by Frank Herbert:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear... And when it is gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear is gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I regret not taking writing classes in college. Why I didn’t is another tale, but let’s just say I didn’t feel free to do anything for joy’s sake. If I had spent ten minutes logically thinking through the realistic consequences, I would have seen that they were nothing. Instead, I let my imagination take over and make it a huge obstacle. I wish I would have had the guts to risk the worst that I could imagine.
For years, fear kept me from writing. Sure, I was still telling myself stories, but I wasn’t writing them down. Any writer can tell you there’s a huge difference between a concept and a written story. That’s why there are so many unfinished novels lurking on hard drives around the world. An idea seems great, but slogging through one typed character at a time to give form to a nebulous cloud of images and ‘wouldn’t-it-be-cool’ fragmented thoughts is damned hard work. Still, it’s work I wish now I’d done, because the craft of writing is in that physical act of transferring concept to written word. I think of the years that I could have been working on and polishing my craft that I let slip away, and you can bet I regret every moment of it.
I regret being the first person to say no to my stories. Instead of letting editors reject my stories, I decided my stories weren’t good enough and didn’t submit them. At least a rejection shows that I took that leap of faith in myself.
What's the worst that could have happened? The writing police would come to my door and confiscate my computer? Someone would have said my writing sucked? The sun would have turned black? And would any of that stopped me from writing? No. Only I had the power to stop myself, because I let fear win. But that was then. This is now.
I must not fear.
That’s a good litany.