by JT Ellison
— Teddy Roosevelt
This is one of the best quotes of all time. Roosevelt had it right on the money. You must take chances in order to succeed in life. You must give in to your impulses every once in a while, trust your gut, know your own soul. You need to ignore the fact that the drop off the cliff is mighty, and jump anyway.
I had the opportunity to discuss my views on cliff jumping with three people recently. One is my husband, who jumped off a very, very high cliff indeed to start his own consulting firm at the first of the year. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud as I was when he told me he’d made the decision. It’s a risk, certainly. But there is no reward in this life without risk.
Second is an author who is a bit of a cliff jumper herself, albeit one who likes to have knowledge of how far the fall might be. And the third is a friend who needed to be shoved, kicking and screaming, right on off the edge. Between the three of them, I engaged in several days worth of fascinating discussions about how fear can inhibit your growth, as a writer, as a person, as a lover and friend. It affirmed what I’ve always believed – Fear is the most dangerous part of life.
Allow me one of my earnest moments. I’ve never let fear get in my way. I would so much rather fail, to put it all out there and fall flat on my face, than never try at all. Better to have loved and lost, right? That’s my personal credo.
Because, you see, I am a cliff jumper. And I want everyone to jump right along with me.
My darling husband reminds me, at times, that not everyone wants to be a cliff jumper. He says, “Honey, some of us like to walk to the edge, look over and ascertain how far the drop is.”
Where’s the fun in that?
I hold to the belief that if you look at how far you might fall, you’ll back away from that edge and never jump.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not flighty about all this, rushing about succumbing to frivolous impulses. I’m just willing to take chances to further my career, my life and my soul. I never want to look back and say, man, I wish I’d done that. I want to do it. I want to run screaming along the beach and dive off mountains. I want to shoot for the brass ring with my career, and pray that somewhere along the way, the ring turns golden. I want to put my heart on the line, to give myself wholly and completely to my loved ones, even knowing that there’s a chance my precious heart will get trampled.
I want a lot of things, and they aren’t the kind of items you can buy in the store.
Nike has the slogan that you’ve heard all of us here at Murderati talk about. “Just Do It” embodies the life of a professional writer. “Ass in Chair,” “Just Do It,” “Work the Purple…” You’ve heard those phrases here. And I subscribe to all of them. We’ve gotten into this racket for a reason – we love to tell stories. We love to have that psychic interaction with a stranger, to affect their being through our words. We love to share our world with our fellow writers, with the readers and booksellers we meet on tour, with the editorial and agent teams we interact with at our houses. This business is one of communication, and if you’re not willing to lay it on the line, you’re going to have a hard time.
I believe in honesty, in open lines of communication, in taking chances. I believe fear will cripple your psyche. I believe that if you want to be a writer, you need to polish and submit, and that there are no excuses for not. I believe that if you’re an established writer, you have a contract with everyone involved in your career to meet your deadlines and put your writing first. I believe that if you love someone, you tell them. It’s as simple as that.
There is another quote that I believe in wholeheartedly. I’ve shared it here before, but this is so apropos to this particular post that I wanted to share it again.
“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.“
— Lao Tzu
So what about you? Have you jumped off any cliffs lately???
I need to say thank you to a few folks this week for the feeding, watering and general care taken of Laura Benedict and me on our “Blonde and Blonder Tour”: the incredible staff at Sherlock’s Books in Lebanon: Patty, Judy, Lise, Jill, Steve, and frequent chatter Cathy; the wonderful folks at Davis Kidd in Nashville, especially Tim, who rocked our signing and shared some great news that made me cry (#3, Baby!); our friends McKenna, David and Ann at Murder by the Book, Houston, and Ashley and Jaime Lavish, who drove all the way to Houston to see us; and Jacob at the Barnes & Noble in Preston Royal, Dallas, who helped me welcome a few familiar faces – thanks to Dan, Christine, Suzanne and Sara for making me feel at home, and the Bookies, a Dallas based book club, who had a party for me and shared in all the good things. It was a wonderful trip, to be sure, and the pictures can be seen here. Signed copies are available at all of the stores listed.
Wine of the Week: Mark West Pinot Noir, a gift from a dear friend. Yum!