The Drama of Putting Yourself OUT THERE

SaraDonovanphoto~ By Sara Donovan

It’s risen, is golden brown on top and springs back to the latest version every time I change something. Wow! My book is cooked! Awesome! What an achievement! So much of my heart, soul, and energy, about to be generously given.

To who? To editors or reviewers who will evaluate not just my book, but right along with it – my soul (because that’s where my book came from). I’m not exactly ready for that bit.

I had dreams of my book being liked when I was writing it. My dreams helped me stay motivated. But now my dreams are facing off against my fears of rejection and I’m on an emotional rollercoaster, at risk of being thrown around by everything said and unsaid.

Plus I’m faced with a sense of loss – loss of a sense of accomplishment of meeting my daily writing goals, loss of the company of my characters (and of playing God and messing with their lives) and loss of a sense of competence as I compare myself to the Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist I’m now reading.

I hadn’t thought of it like this before, but putting my finished book out in the world to fend for itself is bringing me face to face with some of my most basic and now exposed human needs – like the need for recognition, the need to be in control and the need to have a sense of competence.

So how can I help myself?

Maybe by meeting those needs myself – by giving myself recognition (for my bravery if nothing else), by taking control of the few things I can control, and fully relaxing about the things I can’t.

That doesn’t mean I stop wanting things that are out of my control. It means I deliberately hold my dream as lightly as I hold it faithfully. It’s a paradox. You focus on dreams and outcomes to direct your actions, but you don’t get attached to them.

I also track my roller coaster feelings and take charge of what I’m thinking when I’m on a downer from unsupportive thoughts.

It takes real effort to do that – to stay light with your dream and choose supportive thoughts. But if you don’t take charge, you could end up attached to outcomes you can’t control and automatically churning negative thoughts and feelings. That only leads to more churning and takes significant energy anyway.

In the 2000 year old words of Lao Tzu, “Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream.”

I got so much more than I bargained for when I decided to write a book.

Finishing my book, turns out to be part of the same rich bargain – opportunities everywhere to learn more about the art of living.

My dream job when I was fifteen was scriptwriting for TV or film, only I was a writing wimp. A few bad marks for English essays and I pursued a career in science instead of creative writing.

It took a few decades of writing non-fiction in my day job while living an accidental romantic comedy life before I was willing to manage the uncertainty and give my creative writing dream a go – and I’m so glad I did! Writing Love By Numbers, (a romantic comedy about love, lust and neuroscience), was one of the most fun things I’ve done.

It’s being digitally published by HarperCollins digital brand, HarperImpulse on July 1st, 2014

In my day job, I run a small and busy Learning and Development Consultancy in Sydney, Australia, where I write and teach neuroscience and communication programs to very smart and talented clients. 

My greatest blessing is my wonderfully supportive and inspiring family – my personal superhero husband, my two amazing children, three wonderful step children and my love-addicted dog.

3 thoughts on “The Drama of Putting Yourself OUT THERE”

  1. Dear Sara, What a great story! I am astounded by your credentials. You also give those of us who haven’t received the call yet motivation to remain focused and follow our dreams of others someday reading our books.

  2. Congratulations on seeing your book published. There may be people who don’t get it, won’t read it, or will dislike the characters, but I’d bet that for every naysayer there are many, many more people who will laugh at the appropriate times, smile when remembering one of your character’s lines, and feel altogether better about life because you gifted them with a fantastic story.

    I personally would love to see how neuroscience and romantic comedy mix! Thanks for the post.


    1. What a beautiful comment, Veronica! Just what I need to hear right now.

      One of the lovliest experiences of being published so far is the support from other writers. Your words mean a lot!

      – Sara

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