2012 was a good year. I got my PhD, I got married, and I got my first full-time job. (Yes, my first one; being a professional student will do that to you.) For the first time in a long time, I feel I am in a good place. However, I feel like I want to do more. I want a challenge.
A few months ago I wondered about what taking risks in writing looks like. I attempted to do #AcWriMo (Academic Writing Month) to challenge myself in my writing. I did not meet my large goal, but I did get back into the daily writing habit, which was one of my long-term goals. However, I still feel like I need a challenge…The PhD was such a major dream for me, and now that I’m here I have all this energy I can use in other projects. I just don’t know where to focus.
I have projects, I do. I have Sounding Out! which has grown beyond our wildest dreams–from a blog run by three sound aficionados to a full-blown web presence that showcases cutting edge writing about sound every Monday (and we’ve haven’t missed a beat in over two years). I have a long-term research project at the Writing Center where I work, a project on extra-curricular writing support at academic medical/health centers. I have a dissertation chapter I have to turn into an article this holiday season. I have my regular blogging duties for University of Venus over at the higher education website Inside Higher Ed. But it feels very comfortable.
I wasn’t sure how to articulate this feeling (or whether I was just being fidgety) until I came across Rania Anderson’s “Successful Women Make All the RIGHT Mistakes.” She mentions that her boss responded to a project she was working on by complimenting the mistakes she had made, and told her she should embrace those mistakes, “pushing the outer edges of what [she] knew, working toward more challenging goals and not worrying when some aspects of a project or assignment did not go perfectly.” I promptly tweeted:
Liana Silva (@literarychica) December 23, 2012
I realized that the projects I have on my plate are projects I know I am good at. It also made me realize that the reason I haven’t embraced my freelance (side) job is that I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of something I don’t know how to work. Academia? I can handle that. I can navigate it. But freelance work, pitching my writing to broader outlets, getting started on that Kansas City soundscape project I’ve been dreaming about? All of that is a big question mark. Where do I begin?
2013 will be about not being afraid, of trying something new. Maybe that something new is pitching my writing to a non-academic venue. Maybe that something new is a blog series. Maybe that something new is embracing my freelance side. Maybe that something new is not fearing the questions, but staring them in the face.
Dear readers and writers: what would you pursue if you did not fear failure?
P.S.: Because now this song is stuck in my head…