Get Out Of Your Way By Anne-Mhairi Simpson

This is my fourth attempt at writing this post. Not doing so well on the ‘inspirational’ so far. That said, the key is not to plan this stuff out too much. The last three times I did this (or tried to), I went into it thinking ‘inspirational, think inspirational’. The problem is, I’m not.

Inspirational, I mean. I’m just someone who decided to do something really stupid and is putting all her energies into it.

Oh, you want to know what the stupid thing was? Well, I decided that I wanted to earn my living from writing by the end of this year. I figured I’ve got some money in the bank and should be able to make it last until the end of the year. If I’m UBER-careful with the money, which I’m generally not.

You see where the stupid-ness comes in?

The even more stupid part is that I hate those jobs which are considered secure and gainful employment. Sitting at a desk day in, day out, is simply not my idea of fun. Or security. Or anything other than mind-numbing boredom and a one way track to hell and depression. Of course, I never anticipated that my body agreed with me to the extent that it granted my wish for time and money to write by rupturing a disk in my spine and sending me home on full sick pay.

This is not meant to be a post about me. Really, it isn’t. And I’m so not going back for a fifth attempt. What I’m trying to say is that the only thing getting in your way is you. Not deliberately, you understand. But there is something in the human psyche that would rather not commit to the pursuit of a desperately longed-for dream, than make the attempt and fail.

My grandmother grew up on a farm in Norfolk (in the UK, not Virginia), the eldest of six. Her father was a merchant seaman, her mother a stay-at-home mum. There was no money for expensive education, so she studied every day (apparently it served the dual purpose of being the only acceptable excuse for not helping with the housework) and got scholarships from secondary school all the way through to university in London. She graduated in 1939 with a degree in Zoology and went on to become a biochemist working on the polio vaccine in America. Then she was headhunted back to England to develop the same vaccine for Glaxo. So far as I know, it’s the same vaccine I took on a sugar lump about fifteen or so years ago. Bear in mind she was a scientist, and a very well-paid one, when most women were housewives, teachers or secretaries.

She died at the end of January this year and I remember her for the lesson she taught me without ever meaning to, that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. She never mentioned this and I think it’s because it simply never occurred to her that all people don’t think this way. Or possibly (being the kind of person she was), she thought if they didn’t think that way then they were too stupid to bother with.

I’m here to tell you that you absolutely CAN succeed at your goal of writing a book, publishing a book, making enough money to live on, and climbing the Empire State Building and BASE jumping off the top. All you have to do is refuse to give up. Ever.

Just as you wouldn’t (I hope) climb the Empire State Building and BASE jump off the top without first learning about the technicalities and then getting a team together, there is no rule that says you have to go this trip alone. The only person who can achieve your dream is you, but you are allowed to have help. You are allowed, on occasion, to sit down in the middle of the road and say ‘you know what? I just can’t do it anymore. Someone has to help me.’ Only please don’t make a habit of it because people will get frustrated with you, as my CP told me after one gasping flail too many: ‘I’ve told you enough times that you’re awesome, now SHUT UP!’

She’s great.

That’s what ROW80 is about. It’s not just the daily goals, it’s the support system, and you are absolutely entitled to ask for help from that support system. Otherwise it’s like a pair of lungs breathing away in the middle of a table on their own. It looks kinda cool, but what’s the point?

~*~

Anne-Mhairi Simpson

21 comments

  1. Greatly inspirational words. Thanks for the post! And, of course, best of luck with your journey. I’m sure we’ll all be around to witness and participate in your success.

  2. Fabulous post Anne-Mhairi! And you have made me realise that I should use the ROW80 bunch for more than just support. Be prepared for questions in my next ROW80 update people!

  3. go grandma go – she’s right if you want it enough it can be done – the trick is to put in the work and determination – might not be shakesphere but you never know it might in another few hundred years – thats what I’m working on!!!!

  4. You sell yourself short; you definitely can do inspirational pretty darn well if you ask me! What a great post; thank you! I have so many wistful dreams about having enough money saved up to do just what you’re doing, ride out the year in an attempt to start making more money solely on my writing. So I wish you a lot of luck on that and then maybe you can pass some of the luck onto me next year.

  5. I’d forgotten that I’d written this, so it was something of a surprise to come over (late) to put my linky in and find it here. The money is definitely running out, but I will hopefully get benefits as I’m still not fit to work. As far as the earning money from writing goes, I’ve pushed back my release date to the end of October, which gives me only two months to make money from it this year. That said, doing the necessary edits will, I think, improve my chances of making money from the book, so it will probably work out for the best! Thanks for all the lovely comments🙂

  6. Great post, Anne-Mhairi! Obviously you either edit well (after four tries) or you write excellently in the first place (which I suspect is more the case).

    I struggle with being my own worst enemy (nothing is good enough) and being too proud to ask for help. It is not a pretty combination! Thankfully, I’m getting slowly better as I get older. Your grandmother’s story is a true inspiration–thank you so much for sharing it!

    1. I wish I could say it was the former (that I edit well – it would sound less arrogant). Unfortunately, it must be the latter because I scrapped the first four attempts completely. So thank you🙂

      If it helps, I suffer with exactly the same thing. Complete perfectionist and hate admitting that I’m having trouble. Well, I’m happy to whinge about it online, but not in a direct “can someone please help me with this?” way. I am getting better though🙂 There’s always room for improvement.

      And yes, my gran is very inspirational. I miss her terribly. This is my way of keeping her alive, if you see what I mean.

      1. It took me several tries to get my post right, too. And even then I thought it was totally self-centered and uninspirational (meet my perfectionist!). And yes, I love to drop hints about needing help, but don’t ask for it! *headbang* I’m slowly getting better too.

        I think as writers we can honor the people we miss through writing about them. I certainly hope I can.

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