Empty-Handed Leap into the Void

I’ve been trying to make a decision lately about my life, my career, my life savings, and how much I am willing to risk to live the life I want to live. I pulled a rune on the matter, and as I have so very often in the past, pulled the Blank Rune. The Blank Rune is the end and the beginning. It portends a death: to a relationship, a way of life, a belief system. And what the rune asks for is nothing less than an empty-handed leap into the void. A “leap and the net will appear.” Or not. One never knows with nets. Which I suppose is appropriate given the ending of my first novel.

Still, it’s frightening. To risk everything on the hope that things will work out not just OK, but better than OK. Much better. I’ve been living OK for too long in my estimation and I’d like to go for great. But as those of us who work in the arts, or any medium that requires another to value our work in order to be paid for it, it’s not just a matter of working hard and giving it our all. We rely on others. It’s that feeling of dependence that finally had me leave acting, switching instead to writing and directing short films. It gave me a sense of control as opposed to a, “Please, sir, may I have some more?” mentality. That same feeling of captaining my own ship helped me decide to self-publish. I didn’t want to wait for a gatekeeper to deem me worthy. I wanted to make art and was willing to roll the dice to do so.

But here I am. Wanting to make my living full-time as a writer. Wanting to not dip into my savings to pay bills. And that leaves me in a position I feel least comfortable being in. Needing others. Needing many others: to buy my books, to like them, to tell their friends about them. It’s incredibly vulnerable and I only do vulnerable in small doses in certain situations. Don’t get me wrong–I write very vulnerable essays about suffering from depression, a suicide attempt when I was a child, et al. But those essays don’t require a response, and I’m not asking anyone to like them, nor spend money or spread the word. Needing that is a whole other level of vulnerability.

In truth, my experience with needing people hasn’t gone very well; I do better with a DIY mentality. So maybe this will become a great lesson. Not in getting what I need (I have no way of predicting whether I will or not) but in the asking. In allowing myself to feel how much I want to reach people with my writing. To know that no matter if I write it, design my own cover, and do my promo work, ultimately, I need other people to be a success. And not just the people who know and love me, but countless strangers.

How completely and utterly terrifying.

Which I suppose is what is required of anyone taking an empty-handed leap into the void. Here’s to hoping a net appears, and that it’s even better than I could have hoped for. I wish the same for you.