Here at Stage Lights and Dirt Roads we (and by we, I mean I) love a good Celine Dion song. One in particular has been playing in my mind on repeat. The chorus of “Taking Chances” says:
“But what do you say to taking chances,
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there’s solid ground below
Or hand to hold, or hell to pay,
What do you say,
What do you say?”
Dioguardi and Stewart don’t say a lot in this chorus, but their rhythms invoke representational imaginary of rapid, spiraling thoughts of doubt. In situating this list of doubts smack in the the middle of a call-to-jump sandwich, the writers and Dion re-frame doubts. The doubts become invitations. Something to rush toward and into.
I must admit that, in the past year, I’ve run smack into a wall of doubts. Working in my field can do that to you. I’ve never felt like I wasn’t enough, but I have feared that putting out one bad bit of writing might end my otherwise (maybe) promising career.
I push through and publish fiction, because that is not how I pay my bills. Learning from failures and rejections in the fiction world is fun and the growth I know I will gain outweighs the risk.
My academic writing is a different story. The financial risk there is immense. As a grad student, I am still many years away from being tenured and having a secure job. How much I publish now and in my first five years at an institution determines my pay for the rest of my life if I stay in academe.
I have this semi-unfounded fear that it only takes one editor hating one paper for me to never be able to publish again. I make the mistake of letting that fear keep me from submitting papers and learning from those rejections.
Recently, I saw a call-for-paper that read a lot like a prompt. The journal was open to creative submissions, so I sat down and wrote my research as a poem. In one day, I wrote the paper, edited it multiple times, and hit *submit*.
Long story short, I got my first academic publication. *Confetti Explodes*
If daily-life followed the narrative structures with which we write, I would now be reflecting on risks and learning to submit more. But, the real world has way more subplots than anything I’ve ever written.
I now find myself questioning how much I want to keep my worlds separated, and if, maybe, those dreams I was never willing to speak out loud might be a possibility in that blurry space in between.