Time to stop self doubt

Although I have been seriously writing for well over a year now ( blogging even longer), I’ve always introduced myself s an aspiring author, or would be writer. A short time ago someone took me to task over this. I’ve had several short articles published, as well as numerous letters, I also produce a monthly column in the local paper. That makes me a writer! Just because I have yet to win any competitions or get a publishing contract doesn’t alter the fact that I am a writer. Although yet to earn any money from it, I am a writer. I write everyday in some form or another, run a creative writing group as well as a writing for wellbeing one. Finally I accepted the title. However I was still slightly apologetic, almost sidled in, hoping that no one would ask about my qualifications. Why?

I left school at just 15 with no qualifications. I didn’t stay to take any exam. I was expected to go to work, which I duly did. I didn’t mind at the time, exam certificates didn’t mean much in the world of hairdressing, back in the 60s.
As my family came along, I began to regret not having anything behind me but told myself that I could do evening classes when I had time. It didn’t happen. By then, although I regretted it, it no longer seemed important.
Less than two years ago, being retired & living alone, I decided to take a creative writing class, then another followed by various workshops. I was hooked. I took a further class where grammar was high on the agenda. A stroke many years ago has erased most of my ability to put the correct names & terms for grammatical correctness. The teacher, although inspirational unintentionally caused me to feel inadequate. I already felt an outsider when friends discussed literature, my knowledge, by comparison was very limited. I enrolled on a Grammar course.
As I began the coursework, I realised that I knew what I was doing, knew how to use the correct formulation of sentences etc. Why was I doing this? At school I had always been an A+ English language & literature student, who was I doing this qualification for?
I decided to drop out. I have far more important things to do with my time. I was doing it to wave a piece of paper & say
” look, I’m as good as you now.”
I didn’t need to do that.

Of course there are gaps in my knowledge but nothing that I can’t get around. The stroke can’t be undone. Is it vital for me to remember what the correct terms are?
I write because I love it. I didn’t want it to become a burden.
Shortly afterwards I set up a creative writing group. I stressed at the outset that it was non teaching. I simply wanted to encourage others to have a go, to have fun. It has been an overwhelming success. Occasionally I get lost when some members discuss the classics or talk about writing styles, but I refuse to pretend to be anything or anyone that I’m not. Generally people appreciate my honesty, even if they don’t understand my reasoning.

One problem though, I still was an aspiring writer only, playing at it, not really serious. Except that by then I was.
I needed a change of mindset. When I’d begun, I had no intention of using it for anything other than pleasure/ therapy. Now I felt very differently about it. I intend to write for the rest of my life, to be successful too. A would be, will remain a would be. As a believer in affirmations & the power of positive thought, I decided to ‘rebrand’ myself.
I updated my Facebook profile photo, showing me writing. I introduce myself as a writer. I think in a totally different way.
I am shortly going to produce a collection of writing from my creative writing group, which we are going to sell for Children In Need. I am entering the NanoWriMo challenge to produce a 50000 word novel within the next month. I will, without question get some of my work into print. Whether I have to self fund, self publish or get a publisher, who knows? It’s not vital for me to know. One thing’s for certain – You’ll be hearing more about me in the coming years. I may never reach the heavy heights of a number one best seller, but I will definitely be producing some worthwhile work.
My name is Rosie – I’m a writer.

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Praise where it is due

like so many people, I always had difficulty in accepting praise, I’d mumble something about not being very good, or else rather than embarrassing myself by blushing, I’d make a joke, or make fun of myself.
I’d been brought up not to show pride in myself or my achievements. Pride is on par with lust, gluttony or avarice ( although to be honest, I never truthfully understood quite what avarice was.) I grew up believing that it was wrong to be pleased with myself – so inevitably I stopped showing my talents – became a mediocre nobody.
I hated having the spotlight on me, even to the extreme! One painful memory involved winning the first prize in a theatre draw. I was mortified! I begged my Father not to make me collect the prize, but I was ritually marched through the theatre towards the stage. I could feel myself burning up, tears pricking at my eyes as I made my way past all of the envious spectators. Why Me? I didn’t deserve to win, I didn’t even want the prize! Surely everyone must believe that I’d cheated? Why Oh why did it have to be me?
I’ve never forgotten that day. It acted as a blueprint for the rest of my life. I would never claim any further prizes, even at Bingo ( which I hated then & now) if I noticed hat I was close to a full house, or winning line, I stopped crossing off any more numbers. I couldn’t bear the humiliation of having everyone stare at me.
I stopped doing the Lottery because I dreaded winning a fortune but not being able to claim it!
Bizarrely though I felt comfortable being on stage, be it as an actor, dancer or singer, I guess that it felt safe because I was playing a part – it wasn’t really me that everyone was staring at. I wasn’t there, I’d stepped back to allow the ‘other me’ to take front stage, I was invisible. Safe.

How different things are now!

Since living alone, since finding out who I really am, I’ve come to understand that there is no shame in being proud of my achievements. I have no need to be embarrased when someone offers praise.   I’m only an ordinary person but like everyone else – I am unique. You are unique, we all are & we all have positive attributes as well as weaknesses. I am learning to feel quietly proud when praised & now am able to say a simple “thankyou”.

Recently, in a moment of madness I decided to do something positive, to show gratitude for the abundance that the Universe has bestowed on me.   My health was reasonably stable so I took part in Care Internationals’ campaign ” Walk in Her Shoes”, which involved walking 10,000 steps a day, every day for a week. This was to represent the distance that Women & girls in the poorest parts of Africa need to walk daily, just to fetch water.

Although the daily distance wasn’t huge ( approx 5 miles) for a fibromyalgia & angina sufferer who was usually only able to totter for a few steps before collapsing in pain, this was way, way out of my comfort zone!    However the cause is very important to me, so I duly proceeded to train myself to walk, with the aid of my pusher, a few metres more each day.

Naturally for this to be a success I needed to gain lots of sponsorship, but as I haven’t lived here for very long, I didn’t have a lot of people that I could call on to support me.  Therefore I decided to enlist the help of the local newspaper to highlight my endevours.    I wrote a letter, hoping that part of it would be published, what I hadn’t expected was to have an entire article and a full length photo of myself published!  Not much chance of anonimity anymore.

At first I was dreadfully embarrased, but soon realised that I needed to embrace this publicity if I wanted to raise awareness of this cause.  Good job really because shortly afterwards I was awarded a beautiful bouquet of flowers as that weeks’ most inspirational story.

I soon discovered that being recognised had it’s advantages. I found the courage to ask people to sponsor me & even had my photogragh taken again with my carers’ company, along with a very decent sponsorship.

I began keeping an online account of my training, difficulies & successes, this involved regular updates, photos etc.  I admit that I found this quite daunting – taking ‘selfies’ may be the norm these days, but not for me!

By the time the challenge began ( 23rd March 2015) my health had deteriorated but I knew that I needed to carry on – I had invested too much effort & time, besides I needed to do this for ME!  I had to prove to myself that I am able to hold my head up, I am able to succeed!

And succeed I did!

I raised quite a substantial amount of money & although now one month later, I am still suffering from the ill effects of pushing myself too far, I AM PROUD of myself. I did what was seemingly impossible for me, I did it without worrying what other people thought.

This has opened a whole new chapter in my life.  Why shouldn’t I continue with this positivity?

I have also realised that I was taught wrongly.   Being proud is good in the right situation.  I now know that I have the right to create my own life rules, as long as I don’t cause harm to anyone.

I’m no longer that terrified little girl.

It no longer matters if people doubt my motives, as long as I know my intentions are good, why should I justify it to anyone else?

There are millions of people on this Earth, most of them stumbling along trying to find their role in life, many of them apologising for their existence.  Hopefully they too will one day realise that it is GOOD to hold your head up & say  ” This is me, I’m not perfect but I’m proud to be doing the best that I can”

We’ve all got a role to play, never forget that.

Be unique

Be yourself

Be happy & proud of who you are.

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till next time, stay strong,

Rosie x