Stupid or Genius? The Duality of Following a Dream

When I announced six months ago I was quitting my easy, fluffy, well-paying job nestled safe in the sweetly secure bourbon industry to start a freelance writing and graphic design business and to be a novelist, the reactions from family, friends, and co-workers ranged from envy to shock to genuine happiness for me.

“You are following the right path,” some would say, including my supportive wife, knowing my passion for creativity and affinity for writing.

As confident as I may have appeared, my balls were small, shriveled, and dainty as I cowere (1)

“I think you can do this … but how?” my mom said wanting to both offer her support and caution, her forehead wrinkled with worry as it was every time I told her about one of my big life changes.

“Oh, I could never work from home. I’d sleep all day and never get anything done,” was a strangely common reaction. I always thought but never said aloud, “Not if you wanted to continue to eat; not if you did this impossibly brave or undoubtedly stupid thing and announced it to the world and now they all are watching you to see if you will fly or fall; and not if you have dreamed of something your entire life (writing a book, in my case) and you now finally have the opportunity, nay, the balls, to do it.”

Yeah, balls. I said it. As confident as I may have appeared, my balls were small, shriveled, and dainty as I cowered in my bed for three months of sleepless nights due to this decision of dream-pursuing I made. But they were adequate enough to ride upon into either heaven or Hell.

Most were unbelievably supportive, though I did have one friend irreparably damage our friendship with her biting criticism of my decision to follow my dream.

I definitely do not have room in my life for anyone who is not going to prop me up during one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made. She was demoted down several tiers off my friendship mountain. I doubted myself enough without having someone else do it for me.

People much older than me loved my gumption – often saying they wished they had spent their lives doing something they loved – or looked on me as if I was a teenager going out to buy her first mustang with no references, no job, and no down payment.

“A freelancer?” they’d say, their voices raised in confusion. Most did not understand the amount of money that can be made from the Internet. Most didn’t think about the sheer amount of content forced through the pipes every hour of every day to feed hungry news channels, attorneys’ blogs, social media, product reviews – someone was writing all of this so that every morning when the world awakes, there’s a fresh batch of newly written words for eyes to feast upon.

I’m your word chef, and I now proudly serve you.

The doubt passing through their eyes as they repeated freelancer didn’t escape me. It’s a doubt I never met back when I would tell people I was a paralegal or a corporate journalist. Those jobs had merit. Those jobs were concrete. Those jobs were easily understood. Freelancer? I guess there isn’t any at-a-girl’s to offer or to understand, even if I’m a business-owner too.

Or is there? Now that I am 6 months in, I am happy, however cautious, to report the decision to quit my job and build a business around my natural creativity seems to have been the right one. Business is great. Part one of my dream is going well. I am far too critical of myself to ever claim any of my ideas are “genius” though I can concede that I have proven myself capable of the task.

“But Mary, what about writing that book?” Oh, you mean part two of my dream? Now that my business is financially stable, I am ready to begin. In fact, I began Saturday.

So, writing a book with little experience … stupid or genius?