This year, at the age of fifty-six, I achieved my lifelong ambition of becoming a published author. The reason it has taken me so long is because of an insurmountable obstacle blocking my way: me.
For years, I told myself I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t have anything worth saying, that making a living from writing was a silly pipe-dream attainable by only a privileged few. This negative self-talk kept pen from paper for many decades, while I busied myself with work and family commitments and the constant struggle to survive in today’s challenging economic times.
But the writing itch never went away. It festered and bubbled until I could deny it no more.
In my early 50s, I threw myself into writing. I started with the ambitious project of writing a novel, and got a few short pieces published along the way. I did writing courses, connected with a wonderful community of writers, and continued to improve my craft. However, there was a dark side to my connecting with my long-forgotten passion; the feelings of guilt and shame for acting outside the boundaries of what society expected of me.
In moments of doubt, my writing seemed like a self-indulgent waste of time; time I should be spending doing something more productive like ironing, paying bills or taking on a second job. The idea that I could one day earn a living from my passion seemed too good to be true, until I started working with Energy Healer, Kate Ryan.
Energy Healing examines our negative beliefs and replaces them with positive new ones. Rather than expend our energy on that which does not serve us, Energy Healing helps us to redirect our energy towards our heart’s desire, so that we can create a positive and abundant life for ourselves.
In her Freedom of Frequency course, my sister Kate Ryan, worked with me to remove some of the negative beliefs that were blocking my writing goals:
Don’t Give Up Your Day Job
As a school leaver, the adults in my life had discouraged my writing aspirations in favour of more attainable forms of employment. After all, the creative life is a difficult one, and there are no guarantees. Following their advice, for the next few decades, I opted for the safe choices that kept me afloat financially but saw me sacrificing what I really wanted to do.
Added to the discouragement of those closest to me, there is also the cringe factor in our Western society towards the creative arts. Creatives of any kind are viewed as outliers, self-indulgent and out of touch with reality. Yet every day, people listen to music, read books, or watch movies. Art speaks to us about life and love. It resonates with our experiences and helps us connect with other people. Rather than being separate from the everyday world, art is an intrinsic part of it.
The Starving Artist
Despite the widespread consumption of art in its many forms, there is the expectation that creatives should work for free. The archetype of the starving artist is romanticised, and those who succeed financially are often criticised for being disingenuous or selling out. But given the invaluable contribution that creatives make to society, why should we not expect to be financially rewarded? Why should we not expect to make a decent living from our work, because creating art is most definitely a form of work.
Social Media: Friend or Foe?
Apart from producing an actual product, creatives today are expected to have a social media presence. As international best-selling author, Natasha Lester, and founder of oranges journal, Jade Green, have pointed out, this is a double-edged sword. While it provides a free platform for creatives to showcase their work, the flip side is that creatives are also working for free, providing endless content that delivers profits to the owners of social media.
Show Me the Money
However, some creatives are now claiming their right to be renumerated for their work, with accounts such as Substack, Buy Me a Coffee and Bandcamp. It is a bold move to ask for payment in a world where artistic content is offered for free and requires a great deal of courage and self-esteem.
Being a woman and being a creative is a double whammy. As women we are conditioned to be nurturers and put everyone else’s needs before our own. Pursuing our creative goals, rather than tending to the needs of others, is perceived as selfish and unproductive. If you have children or elderly relatives, claiming time and energy to pursue your creative passions will require you to overcome the shame of being “selfish” and the resentment of others for your taking time away from your caring responsibilities. Also, self-promotion, which is vital for a creative career, is often seen as being unladylike, and the more vibrant amongst us often cop flack for being “too loud” or “too much.”
Life Wasn’t Meant to be Easy
There is also the belief in our society that financial reward can only be achieved through sacrifice and hard work. Most people are resigned to earning a living in a way that is unsatisfying and unrewarding and those who strive for a life beyond that are often met with resentment and derision. Despite the materialistic focus of Western society, there is also a strong anti-rich sentiment, with wealthy people being perceived as evil, soulless monsters, profiting from the suffering of others.
My First Writing Pay Cheque!
After completing Kate’s Freedom of Frequency course, I was delighted to have one of my articles accepted by a national online publication, who offered me the first ever payment for my work. This provided me not only with validation as a writer, but proved to me that it was possible to earn money from my writing. Shortly after that, my manuscript was accepted by a publisher, and I was offered a contract for my debut novel.
Removing my negative beliefs that I could not earn money from writing made way for these positive opportunities and allowed the abundance to flow.
The Road Ahead
When I sat down to write my first novel four years ago, I had no idea where my journey would take me. It has not been an easy road, but that first leap of faith was the start.
Choosing to believe in myself has seen my lifelong dream of publication come true. So if you have a vision for what you want in this life, the first thing you need to do is start believing in yourself.
Because it all starts with you.