What’s news for horror writer Paul D. Dail?
The big news is that I finished a round of edits on my second novel and have sent it off to an agent with whom I have some history and who asked for a first look at it.
And yes, I’m pretty sure I correctly used “whom” and “who” there, but feel free to comment below if you disagree 🙂
Otherwise, most of my writing endeavors as of late have been linked to my burgeoning freelance writing career which is actually the topic of this post (for a recent publication in Elan Magazine about a time when I helped prepare a sweat lodge, click here).
So without further ado…
As you may have read in my previous post (yeah, I know. It’s been awhile), I have left my teaching position to tackle a freelance writing career. This topic is especially poignant currently as I am rapidly approaching the last installment of my contractual teaching salary.
Even though I have already secured some regular freelance income (for which I should apparently thank my lucky stars), this fact is still pretty scary. Not as scary as it was six months ago when my wife and I made the decision that it would be the best thing for our family (and me) to make the big step when the current school year ended.
Six months ago, I was terrified. But I was also very excited about the possibilities. Of those two emotions, I would have to say that fear is the more powerful of the two. At least it had been for me in the past. As the months passed after making the decision to quit my teaching job and opportunities started presenting themselves, I realized I had made the right decision. But at the same time, I also realized how many times I had let fear challenge–and subsequently defeat–my resolve.
Now this is a tricky area, because I believe that I am where I am in my life currently–which is a pretty damned good spot–because of all of the moments in my life leading up to this day. But does that make it any better to say that we have let fear make some of our most major decisions? And I think it’s human to wonder how our lives and our selves might have been changed–if not outright different–had we made other decisions.
Two examples came immediately to mind when I had this realization about the power of fear in my life. The first was right out of high school when I could have either left home to go to any number of colleges that had accepted me or stayed home and gone to the same college as many of my friends. Wanna guess which choice I made?
Funny enough, the second time was after another graduation. When I finally got my college degree (not from my hometown college as it turned out), I had been planning on going to Honduras to help rebuild after Hurricane Mitch and solidify the Spanish skills I had been learning for two years. Then a friend offered me a good job. Not anything to do with my English degree, but it was a good job in a place I really enjoyed living. Again, any guesses?
When I look back on these decisions, I see plenty of good times that followed these decisions, but still, they were made largely out of the age-old struggle between freedom and safety. (Ironically enough, this was a topic I had been discussing with my students for six years when we read dystopian literature.)
These choices I had in front of me, as well as many others, including the most recent possibility of finally committing to calling myself a “freelance writer,” all had elements of freedom to them. I had always said I was leaving Utah when I graduated high school. And after college, living and working in Central America would have been an amazing experience for a budding writer. But ultimately I made the choice that involved safety. The comfort of familiar faces in college. A guaranteed paycheck in a tough economy.
Because freedom can be pretty freakin’ scary. So many unknowns. And unpredictables.
I had moments like this with the most recent decision to leave my teaching job. Times at the beginning when I wasn’t getting writing work or thought I couldn’t compete. Or when I was offered another teaching position (seriously, that happened). All of these times when I questioned my decision to do what I really wanted to do with my life. And I know it was fear.
I believe fear has an important place, and listening to it in some occasions has been the best thing for me. Especially when it comes to keeping one safe. But again, I think it’s human nature to be curious. Who knows? Maybe I could have arrived at this point in my life–which again, is a pretty damned good spot–a little ahead of schedule.
Everyone has a different situation, and I’m not saying my decisions should be your decisions. Common sense has to play into every choice we make, but maybe sometimes fear disguises itself as common sense. Or as I learned from my discussions with students, sometimes people prefer safety to freedom. Or at least they lean that way.
This time I made the choice for freedom. I’m still a little nervous, but if there’s any truth to the fact that there are certain paths we are supposed to take (whether we choose to or not) and that it feels obviously right when we plant ourselves on that path, I think freedom was the right choice this time.
What do I want from you?
How about you? Are you more of a freedom or safety person?
Have you had experiences like mine that you’re willing to admit, when you acted out of either freedom or safety?
And keep your eyes open here. Hunter Shea will be stopping by for a guest post on July 28 as part of his blog tour for “The Montauk Monster” (which I am thoroughly enjoying).
Finally, I know posts are sporadic as of late, but if you’ve enjoyed what you read here, please subscribe to receive posts via email or RSS feed (on the right hand column) so you won’t miss anything when I do get the opportunity to say something. NO SPAM, I promise.