By Alanoud AlMadhi (@ALANOUD_auh)
An English professor at our university invited us to a book-signing event for an Arab author who wrote a number of well-written English short stories and novels. Preceding the book-signage, an interview with the author took place.
The author told us her story from the very beginning. How she went to study in the UK, started writing, and later published her first book; which was a collection of short stories.
She expressed how challenging her life was abroad and how that inspired her to write even more. I was sitting there amongst the audience, staring at her as she spoke with her comforting smile, and I said to myself “Wow. This is not as hard as I thought. I CAN be a novelist.”
In my first couple of years at university, I had a true passion for writing. It grew after every little piece I wrote. Whether it was an assignment, a test essay, or just my personal anecdote.
Once upon a time, I imagined myself becoming the next JK Rowling; writing an epic novel that would later be read by a Hollywood director who decides to create a movie out of it.
Yes, this is how rosy the picture was in my head. But there was one small problem; I was terrified. I knew there would be huge obstacles that would stop me from becoming the novelist I wish to be.
When I heard this author speaking so calmly about her hurdles, the obstacles in my head shrank. However, the fear was still spread.
When the interview was over, I bought a copy of her book and approached her to sign it for me. As she opened my copy to sign, I expressed my admiration to her writings and told her of my wish to become a novelist as well as my great fear of failing to reach that.
“If you failed, you will succeed in something else”, she said serenely. Very disappointed by her answer, I decided she did not hear me well so I went back behind the book-signing queue hoping I will get a more satisfying response.
I expected a talk about how we should arm ourselves against failure, be ready to face it with all our might, or do whatever it takes to break the wall of fear we are building before it.
I did not know what the exact reply should have been, but I was convinced the one she gave was not the right one.
The queue got shorter and it was finally my turn again. She reached out her hand to take the book but I asked her “What if I failed in writing my novel?”
She had an unruffled reaction to the word I believed would have a devastating effect. Then she repeated with a giggle, “If you did not do well in this, you will be a star in something else”. I thanked her then walked away; dissatisfied with the repeated, unwise advice I believed she had given me.
I saw failure as a huge monster and a bitter enemy haunting me whenever I wished to write my first chapter; gnawing at my promising thoughts.
How could that author be so calm about such a scary subject? Failure was a big deal to me and her answer was mocking it.
I sought validity in what she said so I listened to several personal development coaches and read a few of their books; none of them pictured failure as I did. None listed the resources against which I need to fight this humongous beast nor did any develop steps to building a wall that was not made of bricks of fear.
I came to realize the problem was not with the way we face failure. It was the way we looked at it. The bigger, louder, and clearer failure was in our imagination, the thicker and higher the wall of fear we build; and that is what holds us back.
The novelist was right after all; we need to smile in the face of failure.
If we did not reach the target we set for ourselves, then there is always another one to set. The journey we took to reach the first was a learning experience from which we became stronger, wiser, and more willing. From our failure we have built a better us. We do not taste the victory of a rise unless we suffer the pain of a fall.
If we allow ourselves to see failure as big and fat as I did, then our fear will grow bigger and stop us from even starting our trip.
That author had taught me a lesson I shall never forget. I admire her personality and attitude as well as her writings from which I get inspiration.
Did I write my novel yet? No. But I have completed the first couple of chapters. It does not matter if I became the next JK Rowling or not. I am too busy enjoying my journey to think of whether I would fail in it.
21st Issue – December 2011
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration – Community Talk – Food For Thought
Interview – Just Another Undergrad – Sense and Sustainability – Society of Tomorrow
The First Years Last Forever – The Mind’s Eye – Too Blunt For Words – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.