Everybody has a comfort zone. In everything we do, we define that invisible line that shan't be crossed. It's different for everyone. Over the last 2 years or so, I've been learning where my boundaries are... and then erasing them.
Humans are masters of self-limitation. We can convince ourselves that we can't do something, even in the face of somebody, or many other people, telling us that we can. I convinced myself for years that I couldn't write a book. When I finally threw caution to the wind and erased that self-imposed boundary, I found the words came much easier than I ever thought they would. The end result is The Time Weaver.
But there are other places we limit ourselves. I've played tabletop role-playing games for almost twenty years. In that time, I've never played a lawful good character, I've never played a dwarf, and I've never played a paladin. I convinced myself that I couldn't.
"I'm incapable of lawful good," I would tell my friends.
So imagine my surprise when my regular weekly game was taken over by one of the other guys who had it in his head that we were going to play an all-dwarf campaign.
I was given a choice of roles, and they were merciful on me and basically let me choose first. So what did I choose? Again, I threw caution to the wind and chose something as far outside my box as I can: A lawful good dwarven paladin. So far it's going well, in that I've played two sessions (out of a possible five, mostly because I got sick) and have had loads of fun both times. It helps when I have guys around me to help coach me through playing the character. I figure two or three more sessions and I'll be right in the thick of things.
Stepping outside the box can have its rewards too. In the case of role-playing, stepping outside the box gives me the chance to play something new and exciting, and allows me to have more fun and renew my love of the game. There's always something new to play.
When it comes to writing, I had my ultimate reward the other day. I came home after a long day of work and wrangling children at my mother's house to find one of the greatest reviews on The Time Weaver I've ever gotten. But not only that, it was unsolicited as well.
See, when you're a self-published author, reviews don't come easily. So when somebody tells me they've read it, and enjoyed it, I ask them politely to leave me a review blurb with their honest thoughts. In no way do I try to interfere with what they write, but the hope is they will be honest and write what they really thought of my book. But it's still a solicited review.
When I get a review from a complete stranger who I didn't request a review from, who wasn't required to write a review, and who writes such a great review, I start to wonder. But the surprise got even sweeter when I realized that this reviewer has a very good Amazon reviewer rank. People obviously appreciate his opinions, and this is good.
This is the kind of review that makes the whole process worthwhile.
So what's the moral of this story? Don't ever be afraid to erase those boundaries and step outside of your comfort zone.
If you try, you could fail.
But if you never try, you'll never succeed.
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