Two days ago on twitter, I happened upon a conversation between writers. It was clear that one person was more accomplished or, at the very least, farther along in their career trajectory. Eventually, the younger writer asked, “How do you decide when a manuscript is done?” She shared that she had been opening a manuscript on her computer and changing a word here and there for about five months. The elder writer advised her to share it with friends or her editor to get their opinion. If they could find nothing wrong with it, then it was done. Now on the surface, he had a valid point. However, I saw something deeper and decided to input my two cents. I told her that when the only reason keeping you from moving forward is fear, then it’s time to let it go.
Common Sense and Coffee sat, completed, on my computer for five years! For five years, I looked at the file and sometimes opened it and played around with words. Sometimes I read it and thought it was good. Other times I read it and thought it was awful. Two years into this process, I enlisted the assistance of a good friend to edit the book for me. She read it, gave me feedback, and didn’t hold back. Admittedly, I was devastated. She didn’t tell me it was bad. She was just completely honest, fully honest with not one regard for my feelings. She did exactly what I have always said: don’t concern yourself with my feelings, concern yourself with the truth. The truth was hard to hear and I put the book back on its virtual shelf where it remained for three years.
At the beginning of 2017, I decided that I could not, would not, go another year without fulfilling this dream. I got to the point where I had done all I could do. I could not tweak another word. It was ready. The only thing preventing me from releasing the book was fear. I was afraid of what people might say. I was afraid it wasn’t good enough. I was afraid that I was not good enough. When it became clear that fear was the only obstacle, that was precisely the moment I had to let go and release it.
There are times when dreams aren’t ready. I might have the dream of running a marathon. Given that I wouldn’t make it to mile one without needing Jesus to take the wheel, that dream needs to wait. That dream needs time. It needs me to train. It needs me to commit to getting better. It needs me to gain stamina. However, when the day comes that all of these conditions have been met and 26.2 miles would be a challenge but not impossible, when the only barrier remaining between me and completing that dream is the fear of actually doing it, then that’s the moment I should sign up for a race.
It is natural to have big dreams. It’s also natural to be afraid. It’s okay to not be ready. But when you’ve prepared, when you’ve practiced, when you’ve become as good as you are going to be and the last domino standing is fear, that is precisely the moment you knock it down and let it go.