Big scary leaps & other unmentionables

Big Scary Leaps

Nearly a year ago I started a big creative project that I had no business starting.

“No business” meant:

  • Fame and fortune were definitely NOT on the horizon.
  • In fact, said big creative project would take time away from my more practical pursuits (like my billable work and growing my business and expanding my profitable skillset… and folding laundry).
  • I wasn’t particularly skilled in said creative outlet— it wasn’t related to graphic design or building websites or folding laundry (although my husband will tell you I’m not very skilled in that last task anyway).
  • Chances were likely I would quit said big creative project (having quit similar projects before).
  • And there were many, many other reasons I told myself why I wasn’t ready, wasn’t good enough and shouldn’t start said creative project at all.

But I was also in a mid-life muddle, and I wanted to challenge myself with something. And this THING— this creative project— it felt enormous. Barely doable. And yet it was something I really wanted to try.

And so I began. An hour a day (most days). Sometimes two hours (rarely more). Day after day.

And now it’s nearly April and, blip, almost a year has passed. My project is far from complete, but it’s growing. It’s taking on a quirky life for itself.

These days I look at it and it looks back at me with it’s odd little face, and I’m more bewildered that it exists than ashamed by the shape it takes.

So now is where I tell you what I’m working on, although I’m really, REALLY uncomfortable in doing so. The truth is, talking about it makes me feel like an imposter, like a failure, like a fraud.

But here goes:
I’m writing a novel.

Whew! Glad that’s over.

I’m reminded of another time I made a big creative leap, nearly 10 years ago. I was picking up the pieces of an old life after an illness and a career change. I was starting a graphic design and programming business that, funnily enough, I had no business starting. And I felt like an imposter, like a failure, like a fraud.

The thing is, when you’re starting out on one of these big scary creative adventures, you’re never going to be ready and you can’t ever know where you’ll end up. And yet you still may be driven to jump in anyway. (Note: A painful muddle seems to help force this action.)

So, I’m reporting in from my free fall today. And all I can tell you is that it seems to be worth the effort, doing this creative work each day (well, almost each day).

I’m taking it one step at a time, trying not to overthink the outcome, trying to trust the journey, and seeing what happens along the way.

My mid-life muddles are still here, but they are evolving, becoming deeper, becoming something I can better understand. Strangely enough, I think I’m beginning to be able to say the same thing about myself too.

That’s the funny thing about human endeavor, isn’t it? It has the power to mold us despite our best efforts at trying to stay in control. We may want one thing, but we end up with something completely different. We may think it’s about something else, when really it’s been about ourselves all along.

So, if you’re standing on the edge of your own creative jump, or if you’re somewhere in the middle of your own creative dive, I wish you good luck in your adventure.

I hope you find yourself along the way.

Happy landing,


19 Responses

  1. Such a good description– congrats on taking the leap. I’m very proud of you… And available to read whenever you want 🙂

  2. Your post took my breath away, Sarah! So fun to read through the churning anxious bits and think to myself, “what is it gonna be?” And in that sweet whisper of a font you told us. I swear to god, sign me up for a pre-sale of the book, will you? My personal philosophy is that saying the big scary things out loud is more than half the battle. I’m really excited for you. Keep writing!

  3. I was moved by this post Sarah. I am anxious to hear more about your process. Living with a writer (Jaden) I see him sometimes writing like it’s water flowing out of him… it’s a wonder to watch. I do think that consistency is key. That’s where I tend to fall from my places of good intention. Hope to see you soon.


    1. Hi Carolyn! Thanks so much for your comment. You are right about consistency– that’s definitely the thing I have struggled with too when it comes to side projects like this. But I think we get consistent in areas of our life when we need to be– you’ve been raising wonderful boys, tending a loving home, and building a great business– those are big creative projects too! Some of the biggest!

  4. Such a good and compelling description of the creative process! I am awed by your courage, your enthusiasm and your talent. Thank you for sharing the truth of your journey — which speaks to us all of the many journeys we all take in our lives. I love your description of the way your project has taken on a life of its own; I think that’s when you know its authentic. Please add my name to your list of eager readers!

  5. Wow. I’m so glad I saved this note for today instead of reading it immediately yesterday (like I normally do). This was so perfectly timed, Sarah. First off, I’m ecstatic to hear you publicly announce that you’re writing a novel — maybe now we’ll actually get to read some of it! And second, going back to how well timed this note was: I know the imposter/fraud feeling well. There are times where I’m like, how did I end up doing something I have no business dabbling in? But like you said, “I’m taking it one step at a time, trying not to overthink the outcome, trying to trust the journey, and seeing what happens along the way.” And, looking back over the years, I’ve impressed myself with how much I never knew I was capable of. Same with you. Keep being a rockstar!

    1. Ah, thanks Rosie! Maybe these feelings are universal. Well, I for one think you are pretty naturally suited to everything I’ve seen you do… plus you’re amazing at it! And I’m guessing you have a ton more up your sleeve, which I can’t wait to see unfold! Keep being awesome!

  6. WOW Sarah. That is big. I’m jealous. I have often thought of the same thing: an hour a day to a long term project. I have tried a few things but it takes discipline and maybe none of them have been the right project. You can do this Sarah; you’re a good writer and creative. Are you still reading (novels)? Or not enough time in the day? I can’t wait to read it.

  7. Hi Sarah, came across you while I was doing work for my midlife change – pursuing a degree in illustration – this from a person who used to mangle stick figures! I love your work and just wanted to say. You are most definitely a creative spirit. Your work that I’ve seen on this site is MARVELLOUS and reading what you’ve written here, I cant wait for you to finish that novel. You are as big as you think you are. Good luck!

    1. Hello Akua and thank you! I’m so glad you stumbled on to this site, and thank you very much for the encouragement! Your transition into illustration is inspiring to me. I hope to hear more from you! Best, Sarah

  8. Congratulations on your midlife re-invention of yourself and subsequent completion of your novel, even though you had no business doing either. The exigencies of early adult life sometimes pigeon holes us and it becomes difficult to fly out, particularly under economic and family constraints: gotta make a living and pay them bills. Re-imagining and then re-inventing yourself may not magically disappear those constraints but hopefully may make them easier to bear.

    You concluded with “I hope you find yourself along the way.” I phrased it as “I write to know who I am.”

    1. Carl! It’s so good to hear from you! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I’ve thought about you and your writing a few times along my journey. Hope you are doing well.

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