I went to the lake with my family this weekend. In addition to being a totally fabulous weekend, I learned something.
My uncle has a jet ski. Jet skis have always fascinated me. They look like so much fun zipping around the water and making waves. My husband adores jet skis. He gets on them and whips around the water making whirlpools and seeing how fast he can go before totally wiping out. Last year, I was pregnant with our third child so taking a ride on the water rocket was out of the question. This year I decided to go for it.
My first thought was to ride doubles with my husband. After all, he knew what he was doing and I didn't. That was a little more weight than the old jet ski could handle, causing us to do a slow roll into the water before we even got started. It was highly entertaining to my family and, incidentally, the only time anyone managed to get a picture of me on the machine. The choice became to go for it alone or not try at all. So I go it alone. I'm sitting on the jet ski in the middle of the lake, feeling very unstable, very unsure of myself, and very aware that if I fell off, there was no way to get back on and I would have to float in the lake until my family came in the pontoon boat to rescue me.
My first ride was an embarrassing mesh of spurts and stops as I tried to figure out how the throttle worked. It would spurt forward, I would panic and let go, and the jet ski would rock around in the water like a cork. I made my way unceremoniously to the dock.
My second ride was even worse as something turned out to be wrong with the jet ski and it stalled out every time I pressed the throttle. No go again.
Our last day at the lake I figured it was do it now or wait another year to get the chance to try again. I decided to go for it. After all, what was the worst that could happen? I could wipe out, drink lake, and float around until my family came to get me. So I got on and held down the throttle. It was glorious. I loved it! I wasn't making whirlpools or maxing out the speedometer, but I was really riding! I loved the wind and the power and the thrill. And I didn't fall off. Not once. The day before I had been so hesitant, so careful, that I was inconstant danger of tipping the unstable craft. But when I just went for it and gave it everything, I had the best time.
What do jet skis have to do with writing? Obviously my Regency England characters aren't going to be hopping on then for a quick jaunt across the channel. The thing is this: It is time to just go for it. I can't keep saying "It needs one more edit" or "I hope I can get this published someday". I have to just go for it. While my financial situation right now doesn't allow for entering copious amounts of contests and joining all the writer's guilds, there are still things I can do to push down the throttle on my writing career. And if I wipe out and get totally rejected? Well, my family's still on the pontoon boat, and that's not a bad place to be either.