To be human

As the WLT agent's conference ended on Sunday, I felt shredded.  The good news  - this wasn't a new or surprising sensation.  I felt the same way last year, overwhelmed with the process of trying to be published, and unsure whether I have the writing chops necessary - not to mention my introvert exhaustion of spending the last week in constant interaction with people.

Although I met many kind people and was happy that I managed to talk about my book without dorking out, I still had the crashing sensation of wondering if I'm good enough or ever will be. Nothing anyone directly said or did contributed to this state of affairs. The agent I spoke to was perfectly nice, although he did not break down into happy tears as I pitched.  Darn.  No, my worst enemy is myself. I can take the tiniest things and use them to build a damning case against myself.

And as ever, I have emotional skin the consistency of tissue paper.  I met people at the conference who seem to be covered in rhinoceros hide and I so envied them.  I wish I weren't such a delicate flower, but I am.  Being bulletproof will never be my super power. The only way this works for me is to get ripped up, step back, let me skin heal and then jump back in. It's a fact about myself I'm just going to have to accept.

As I drove away I found myself thinking I wanted so badly to succeed at something that matters to me.  I want to matter.  To do something important.  Ambition - how very human of me. We all have it, it just takes different forms. Some people want to be a CEO, have a killer golf game, or be the foxiest woman in the room, or the funniest person at the party, or invent cold fusion or discover a cure for cancer.  Me, I want to see my books in print.

I felt downtrodden with this urge to do something important and the fear I never will.  Ah, mortality. Happy thoughts. I want to feel as if my short stay here in this body, on this earth has a reason, a purpose, a value.  Don't we all want that?  But how many people really get it? How many die young? Or never have the opportunities or freedom to pursue their dreams? It puts things into perspective, but still makes me sad - not just for me - but for the human longing that is so rarely fulfilled.

But later in the afternoon I was walking in the intense sun and a dry wind was blowing on my skin and it just felt so delicious to be alive.  It reminded me of everything else that's important too - just being alive, in this very moment, breathing air, sun on my cheek, dry leaves scattering in wind. This is life after all and it makes no difference whether I am rich or poor, known or unknown.  I may have no guarantees of anything else. I may fail at all I attempt. But for now, for today, I am alive. This too, is to be human. And that is a beautiful thing.

p.s. Stay tuned, I'll share my non touchy-feely highlights from the conference tomorrow!


  1. Hello Valerie!

    I found this a really lovely, thoughtful post. I struggle with the same worry that my life must have meaning, I must create something worthwhile before I die. It was nice to see you put it so well.

    As for being thin-skinned - well, it's true it's hard for a writer who will have to take rejection and criticism - but at the same time, it makes you sensitive and thus a better writer. It's a blessing as well as a curse.

    Good luck!

    Best wishes, Helen

  2. I am amazed how we are having the exact same crisis but in two different art forms. As a photographer, at some point I need to charge but just can't bring myself to. I feel like I am not good enough- yadda yadda yadda. You put it so much more eloquently than I ever could! It feels good to know I am not alone. Good luck. Keep trying.

  3. A good friend of mine reminded me recently that "You are AWESOME!" which I very much needed to hear. So I'm passing that right back to you - you are WAY better than you think you are and you are an ongoing inspiration to me.

    Keep going sweetie! YOU ROCK!