I walked into the movie theater and bought a ticket for the next movie starting no matter what it was.
I’ve done this before, usually at art houses that play unusual films, but I haven’t done it for a long time. There is something wonderful about sitting alone in a movie theater, waiting for a film you know nothing about. All potential, all possibility.
I didn’t end up watching any of the movies recommended by a variety of people when I asked for suggestions of something to distract me from obsessing about life. But, the movie I chose was oddly perfect for me, as I continue thinking about what it means to be brave.
I saw NERVE.
Industrious high school senior Vee Delmonico (Emma Roberts) is tired of living life on the sidelines. Pressured by her friends, Vee decides to join Nerve, a popular online game that challenges players to accept a series of dares. It’s not long before the adrenaline-fueled competition requires her to perform increasingly dangerous stunts. When Nerve begins to take a sinister turn, Vee finds herself in a high-stakes finale that will ultimately determine her entire future.
How does a movie based off of a YA novel make me understand more about what it means to “Be brave. Be creative?” By making me realize my own tendency to give into the “dares” and pressures of others. The movie itself was fun, silly, exciting, and disturbing, with a few plot flaws. (Who are the masterminds behind the game? Who transfers money into bank accounts? Who makes decisions? Etc.) But, it also touches a nerve (pun intended) about trying to fit in, be adventurous, be seen, and take chances.
Last Friday I took a step. I entered a manuscript that I have been working on since before I wrote P.O.W.ER to #PitchWars, a twitter-based contest that connects winners with a mentor who will help you polish your novel and your submission packet toward finding an agent. I was so proud of myself for taking that step.
Then I did something that isn’t really me. I started stalking the contest on Twitter. I’ve had a Twitter account for ages (@LisaWieldsWords) , but I am not great at it. I know that I need to be if I want to build a platform for reaching readers, but as with most social media I find it awkward, uncomfortable, and obsession making. I find it yet another place to feel like I don’t fit in, or to try too hard to impress others rather than making real connections and real friendships.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, part of the reason that I went to the movie yesterday was because the mentors are in the process of reading submissions, and supposedly sending notes to people they want to learn more from. I haven’t received a note. So, of course, I began searching for what that might mean. Does it mean I’ve already been rejected? Does it mean my writing is useless and I should just give up? Does it mean nobody will ever be interested?
My mind immediately spun into the negative. I kept looking for comfort on Twitter and Facebook . . . you know, those places where comfort abounds (insert SARCASM emoji here). I kept looking for affirmations, or confirmation that I belong in the world of writers, artists, cool people.
I always do this. I join some kind of online group and then act like a puppy, jumping up and down and licking faces.
“Play with me, play with me, play with me.”
“Pick me, pick me, pick me.”
Why do I always feel like I need the approval of others to confirm my own value?
This morning, after watching a movie that brings home the reality of allowing your life to be dictated by others, I woke up to some new understandings:
- I submitted my work on Friday, when the contest submission window had been open for many days before that. If I were a mentor, I would be reading the submissions in the order they arrived, so it is entirely possible that mine is still waiting to be read.
- If I am not selected, it is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD, for myself or this book. The bravery comes from trying. I feel good about the work, and I believe that, if it is meant to happen, it will find a publishing home.
- If I truly want to live MY life in a brave and creative manner, then I need to keep entering contests, keep trying to improve, but also learn to let go and move on. I have a few options right at this moment:
- Work on more revisions for this manuscript (even though I am waiting for some feedback from my beta reader/editor)
- Work on something new.
- Be open to whatever comes next.
Guess what I am going to choose
Do you ever look for validation in ways that make you uncomfortable? What is your relationship to social media?