I've addressed my Daryl Dixon adoration already.
I read this quote from Maya Angelou years ago, When someone shows you who they are, believe them, and it's stuck with me. I mean, it's basically the science of sociology boiled down into a sound bite.
I've met many people over the years who told me one thing but then did another. Most of these people are not in my life anymore because if you say one thing and do another, that doesn't build trust.
I try not to be that person. I try to follow through, to be the person I say I'm going to be when I describe myself, even just in the thoughts I think. I try to walk my talk and talk my walk, but that's not always easy to do.
Especially when I'm talking to myself.
This past weekend, I attended our local writer's conference. These OWFI conferences are a wonderful, annual event that is on my calendar every May (take note: the 2017 conference will be held the first weekend in May), and I always learn and grow as a writer and editor, get affirmations and sometimes a good kick in the pants. This year was no different.
I sat in on a few sessions with an agent who spoke about pitches and strong stories. He's a colorful, German man who was quick with jokes and ideas and I really wished I had a story to pitch to him because he seemed as though he would be fun to work with—and he built his reputation by being a nice guy. I can get behind that, and it totally showed in the way he related stories about his work life. During the second session, a sort of pitch festival where anonymous ideas were tossed to a panel for their discussion, he mentioned how he always wanted to be pitched a book with a certain structure.
I heaved a big sigh in the back of the room because years earlier, riding high on the post-OWFI wave and bursting with creative story ideas, I had jotted down an idea for a book structured just as he described to be the book he wished for.
I just never started on it. And while I will tell you over and over again that I am a person who works hard and gets things done, mostly that applies to things I do for others. Not necessarily for myself.
For instance? There was that time last week when I decided to go for a run. I have a goal of running a half marathon by the time I'm half a hundred, which is quickly approaching. It had been a while since I had run the neighborhood and our new streets are much more hilly than our old 'hood, so I walked more than I ran. But then, when I got to that long stretch that's pretty much halfway from my house on my route and I was really easing into the running part, my back spasmed and I had to limp-walk the rest of the way home.
Because you can't run before you walk. Because if you want to run, you have to put in the time and effort and build to that reality. Because if you want to write well, you have to... well... write. You have to invest in what's important. And by you, I mean me.
Even Daryl Dixon learned this lesson. Granted, it took a zombie apocalypse for him to learn it, but he learned it. You have to value yourself, your abilities, your follow through on things that will make you happy and carve your path in this world, no matter what your overbearing brother Merle with the mechanical arm thinks, Merle who is the voice in your head telling you that you can't and even if you could, nobody cares and you're not worth it.
I realized that I needed to start believing myself when I show that my intentions are good but my follow through is shit. At least when it comes to things I do for me. Because when it comes to everyone else, I'm getting it done like a boss. I'll prioritize others over myself. I'll help you with your task and put mine off.
But, that's not who I want to be. That's not a good example for my children, that's not effective in making me happy. Maybe I need to start texting my list of to do's for me to someone else and then when they tell me to do them, I'll get them done. Maybe I should make an app for that. Maybe that'll be another idea that languishes in the place where all my best ideas languish.
Back to the conference. I made an appointment to pitch to an editor of a publication that I really want to have my byline in. I literally had no ideas on what I was going to say in this pitch and my plan was literally just me going in to plead my case as a writer and editor who gets shit done. I was on my way to the appointment the idea came to me—a big, swirly idea that gave me goosebumps and felt like a huge moment when it settled in my brain as something that I needed to do. Ten minutes later, I pitched it; he loved it and started writing down notes and tracking with me on ideas and it was that thing that I've experienced on his side of the table, as an editor working with a writer who has the great seed of an idea that we can work on together to bring it to fruition. We'll see what happens next. I'm cautiously optimistic and excited to get working.
Until then? I'm going to be who I am. And I'm going to believe in myself. Because if I can't believe in myself, how can anyone else?
And while I keep that Maya Angelou quote in mind as I try hard to respect myself and follow through on the things that matter to me, I'm also going to keep my own inspirational words in mind.