While I can't be certain as to how my employment status will look for the coming months (aside from the weekend job in the bookshop!), it seems that I'm feeling a bit more prepared, really and truly, for writing competitions, for publications, and for performances. I have tended in the past to avoid them, partially out of a lack of time to consider themed-stories or poems due to college assignments, partially out of fear of being judged.
The first is much easier to get past. After this month, I will have nothing more to do for college. Until such a time that I can actually afford to do a Masters programme, I won't have any such assignments to hand in anymore. I'll have, at the least, evenings to myself. With these evenings, I'll finally have the time to consider submitting something. Within a group I run on Facebook, I've been gathering a little list of publications to consider submitting to. Even just having the list is a comfort.
It's not just short stories and poetry, though. I've been thinking it through, more and more over the last few years, and I'm getting to the point of being mentally and emotionally ready to submit to a publishing house. I've done it once in the past, when I was fifteen, and there was a distinct problem with that: I convinced myself that the book was ready, when I wasn't even at that point myself. (The book also needed a lot more editing than it had gone through. A LOT. I won't deny that at all.)
Now, though, I feel ready. I feel like I can actually submit a book - and I know which one - for publication. I won't be talking about that much from here on out until such a time that I actually have good news to share, though. Aside from the book still needing some work, I don't want anybody getting the impression that it's not worth publishing because one editor or agent didn't consider it suitable enough.
It's all part of one big movement for myself. I've never felt ready for somthing like this like I have now. I'm even considering competitions that have an entry fee, if I can write something that I think is suitable. That's a large step for me. I don't often put money on the line for anything. I'm not a gambler. I never really have been. Putting my money on the line for a competition is going beyond my comfort zone. I guess I never really trusted myself before now.
That's where we meet the fear of judgement.
I don't think I'm alone in that. It's not quite a lack of confidence in my ability (that's partially why I avoid submitting much, but I've managed to overcome that on a few occasions for publication purposes). I think it has more to do with the person on the other end of the submission process, knowing who will be reading what. That's put me off for a long time.
Then I entered the Heart in Mouth competition, on a whim, and that actually turned out okay.
Making that shortlist was a major deal for me. It gave me some confidence in myself. It took away some of the fear of submitting short stories and poetry to competitions and magazines. There are a lot of opportunities out there for someone to submit something, especially if they write across several different forms of writing like I do.
As for performance... I think the anxiety has gone out of it. Having gotten on stage both for fun and for the competition, I've gotten a bit more comfortable doing it. I know I still have a long way to go - it's still beyond my comfort zone - but I know what I need to do to help myself improve. It'll be a while before I attempt actually getting listed as performing - the open mic will do, thank you.
So, there we have it. I'm much less scared now than I was even this time last year. I can't say how well I'll do in all of this, but it's a good first step to get myself emotionally ready for this. The writing will come a bit more naturally, I think.