Today, I'm going to tell you a story.
When I was in fourth grade, I had the option to join orchestra or take general music classes in elementary school. I chose to join orchestra and pick up the viola. I specifically remember my dad asking why on earth I'd want to be in orchestra when I was such a good singer. That stuck with me, and you'll see how. In fifth grade, I switched to band and played flute. Because one of my older cousins was a flute player, I looked up to her and wanted to be like her.
Then moving from sixth to seventh grade, I had to choose between staying in band or joining the junior high choir. I vividly remember writing band at first, then at the last minute erasing that and writing choir instead -- my dad's words rang in my ears. As an alto in the lowest-level choir, I stood out. There were often times when the conductor asked me not to sing so she could make sure the other members could do it without my help. By ninth grade, I was in the top choir at junior high, and singing all the solos I wanted.
Stick with me, there's a point to this...
Moving to high school as a sophomore, I was placed immediately in the top two choirs. (The school had only been open for a year, so there wasn't much competition, but still. It's something to be proud of.) When I was a senior in high school, I was voted choir president. During high school, I nearly took a creative writing class, but switched out of it. I'd never gotten better than a B in English, so I didn't believe I had it in me to write stories. (Plus, the teacher was a jerk. I don't even remember his name.) I read a little Fantasy around this time (David Eddings and Harry Potter), and even tried to world build my own story. But I came back to it and realized it was crap, then promptly told myself I just wasn't cut out for it, and ought to stick to music.
When I was twenty-one, I left home to serve a mission for my church. This was a life-changing time for me. One where I got to use my musical talent in ways that were both exciting and new. At the end of my mission, I applied to ASU's School of Music. Upon arriving home, I auditioned for the School of Music. I was not selected. Six months later, I auditioned again. And was not selected. I was still taking classes at ASU, but was not allowed to take the music classes I so wanted to, because I hadn't been accepted. Not having music made school extremely difficult for me. I think I had one choir class, once a week, and it was not enough. My stress levels were high.
Then something happened that hit me hard. A project I'd been working on for acceptance into the school was completely destroyed. I remember looking at the paper I'd accidentally put through the washer and dryer, as tiny pieces of stiff, ink-faded paper slipped through my fingers, and I wondered, what am I doing?
All those years, all that fun, all the compliments and praise and hard work, and why? For what? I enjoyed music, but was it really what I wanted to do with my life?
If you'd have asked me that ten years ago, I'd have said yes. But in that moment of spring of 2007, doubt took a firm hold.
I began writing my first novel in March, 2011.
Now, three years later, I can't imagine doing anything else with my life. I got started late, but I don't feel like those years were a waste of time because I learned from them. I learned that I often let others' thoughts about my talents sway me too far. I learned, just because you're good at something doesn't make it the perfect job, or career, or hobby.
I still love to sing, and if you ask my four-year-old he'd probably say I do it too loud and too much. But writing is what calms me. It's what helps me relax, makes me think, and allows me to be creative all at once.
A few months ago, I sent my manuscript to my mom. She had it on her Kindle app on the iPad, and my sister (an English major) happened to see it. She said, "Darci wrote a book? Since when does Darci write?"
Even those closest to me were surprised when I decided to call myself a writer. I'll admit, even I was surprised that I took to it so quickly and loved it so much.
My conclusion is this: don't let being good at something -- even something you love -- stop you from trying new things. And when you fail at new things, don't let that stop you from trying them again.
Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney
I would challenge you today to try something new. Write in a new genre you've wanted to try, go for a run, take a road trip, or take a lesson. Examine your dreams, and see what you've always wanted to try, but never really did.
Then do it. Because why not?