Yes, I lied. But I had a good reason. It made my life simpler.
See, ages ago, when I was college-bound, well-meaning folks asked me about my intended major. When I said, English, they’d immediately said, “Oh, you’re going into journalism, then.” And I would nod.
I was nod-lying, you know. I never intended to become a journalist. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer–a children’s writer, specifically. But admitting that was too messy. There’d be uncomfortable follow-up questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. Or worse yet, there’d be unfounded advise or words that sounded like “How interesting,” which really meant, “That’s not a real job, Sweetheart.” And so, to avoid all that discomfort, I lied.
Learning to un-lie about my ambition was a process. While still in college, I decided to “out” myself to an English professor because it seemed relatively safe. The good thing was, he took me seriously. In a letter of recommendation, he wrote (among other things), “I believe Vicky’s chances of success with her chosen profession are better than most because she is willing to define herself so exactly.” That experience bolstered my courage–a tad.
I endured lots of awkward, sidestepping conversations before I could say, “I’m a writer and I want to write for children,” without first weighing the potential for quizzical looks. But you know what? Telling on myself was freeing. Making my dreams known opened up connections with once-unknown-to-me children’s authors in my own community, allowed me to grow, to network and to uncover resources to advance my pursuits toward publication.
Now, back to that nod-lying I’d mastered long ago, it turns out that skill can be re-warmed and re-applied (minus the actual lying part, which is nice). When you say, “I’m working on a children’s book,” and someone starts in with all of their well-meaning advice, you can simply smile and nod. They’re just being kind because they’re excited for you. You are pursuing your dream–and extraordinary dream–and that excites people and makes them want to help you (even if they don’t know what the heck they’re talking about). And that’s cool. Those are among the people who will be celebrating with you when your book comes out.
Please try being honest about your ambitions and what’s in your heart. You will be amazed by how liberating and energizing it will be. Good things and great people will find you as a result.
Before I let you go, you want to try that nodding thing with me? Sure you do. Go ahead try it. Turn up the corners of your mouth and bob your head gently up and down. Don’t overdo it. We aren’t going for bobblehead, just polite recognition of what’s being said to you. Now, wasn’t that easy? (Ahem. That’s your opportunity to practice nodding and smiling.)
Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. ~ Franz Kafka