I was looking at a friend’s new, improved blog and I noticed she has something called a “bucket list” – a list of things she wants to do before she kicks the bucket. I am under the impression this comes from some movie, but the movie starred Jack Nicholson in his recent years, which means I am never going to watch it.
There are plenty of things that would go on my bucket list. I could easily list 100 things and then just hope I have enough time to do them all. Or I could make a list of 40 things and cram them all into the next year. Or, I could make a list of 200 totally unrealistic things like “punch a whale in the face” and then not be disappointed in myself when I’m on my deathbed and I’m clutching a list with nothing crossed off. “Hey, it’s not my fault I never walked on water. I tried!”
If I made this list a few years ago, I would have put “travel” as the first thing, as I had never been off the east coast of this country. I would have written down a bunch of places I wanted to go, knowing full well I wouldn’t because when you’re living in a near agoraphobic state of mind, getting on a plane and heading to a strange land is not really an option. There was that whole money thing, as well. But just putting it on the list would have made me feel a little better. I never wanted to leave the confines of my own home, but I thought about it, so that counts!
Look how things have changed. In two weeks I’ll be headed to California for the second time this year. In December, we’re going to Hawaii. And next year, we’re going to Norway. Why are we going to Norway? Because the number one thing on any list I ever made like this in my entire life was “see the Northern Lights. Preferably from Norway.” It’s some fantasy I had since I was little and I saw pictures – probably in one of the National Geographic magazines that were always scattered around our house – of this amazing, brilliant light show put on by nature. I guess it was a feature on Norway and right then and there I decided I would stand in that very spot one day and see that with my own eyes. When I met Todd and he told me he had been to Norway, I related that story to him and he promised to take me there to fulfill that dream.
Would it be cheating if I made a bucket list right now and wrote “Go to Norway and Hawaii” on it? Probably.
Among the other time consuming and expensive things on my list, like “buy and restore a ’70 Chevelle” there are things that I have the power and time to do now, things that I always wanted to do and could have at so many points, but have not done for various reasons. One of them is publish a book. Which is a different thing from getting paid for writing, which would have been on the list had it not happened, finally.
Back when I was writing this site’s predecessor, A Small Victory, people would often ask if I was ever going to put my writing together in book form, or at least make an attempt to get some of it published. I would think about it, even look into it, and then put the idea on the backburner with the million other ideas that were simmering away to nothing.
The time has passed when anyone was remotely interested in a book of ASV stories. I kind of missed the “strike while it’s hot” thing. When your blog is pulling in 10,000 readers a day is the time to say “Look, a book!” Not years later when people have forgotten about you. But, perhaps I sabotage myself like that purposefully. Being afraid of both success and failure keeps you from experiencing either. On the one hand, it’s safe to just say “I won’t bother doing it, it will save me from the humiliation when no one buys it.” And on the other hand, it kept me from having to face any kind of success with my writing. What if I sent out my stories and a publisher was interested and the book was a hit and people wanted to interview me? Just thinking about it freaked me out. Remember when I had both ASV and the Command Post going full force? Do you have any idea how many interview requests I turned down? I was actually all set to go on CNN and bailed on them three hours before I was supposed to be filming the spot. Another tv station wanted to come to my house and film me blogging and I said no. I have turned down FOX, MSNBC and various other media outlets. I just couldn’t do it. When you live your life bottled up in a small, comfortable world you created for yourself, it’s really hard to put yourself out there like that. I was afraid of the big, wide world, afraid of people and afraid of, well, everything.
I’m a different creature now. And times are different. It would be safe for me to self publish a book of stories and essays and what not because I know some friends and family would buy it to be nice and that’s about it. And I’m ok with that.
So there’s one thing on my bucket list. Publish a book. And I’ll do that. I will self publish, using one of the thousands of options now available for that sort of thing. I’ll collect my stories and essays from ASV, along with my fiction, and I’ll pair them up with my photos, of which I wanted to make a book anyhow, and create a pretty, glossy book filled with my writing and pictures and it will sit proudly on my shelf, stuck in between Good Omens and Regrettable Foods and every once in a while I will look at it and think, I published a book.
It’s a long way from being that crazy dream I had of being an actual author, but the reason I’m not is nobody’s fault but my own. Maybe I could have been. I may have succeeded, I may have failed, but I’ll never know because I didn’t try. I was held down by my own fears. If you let fear have power over you, it can control your entire life. Learning how to take control of those fears is incredibly empowering.
I’ve traveled a bit. I’m going to Norway. I’m going to put together this book. Some day I will get that Chevelle and learn how to make it purr.
I have this vision that one day, hopefully when I’m a ripe old age, I’ll be hanging around waiting to die – I’m sure my kids will have dumped me at Shady Pines by that time – and I’ll take out my bucket list, with 99 things out of 100 crossed off. My only regret will be never getting close enough to that whale.
Now to begin that lovely process of editing your own work.