I got the news over the phone before lunch. I clutched the edge of my desk to keep from leaping to my feet and jumping up and down. My coworker, S., looked across her desk at me. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“I was just accepted into the Peace Corps,” I said. “I’m going to Bulgaria!” I spun my chair back and forth. Twenty minutes until lunch. I could scream then.
S. looked at me. “The what? Where?”
We worked in the back office of a bank. My job was to review spreadsheets and find the mistakes tellers made before the customer did. “I’m going to be a Peace Corps volunteer. In Bulgaria. Teaching English.”
My supervisor looked up from her desk. “What are you doing?”
I repeated myself. In a few minutes all the women in our department were staring at me. Most of them said about the same thing, “Oh. Um, really? For two years. Well, yeah, that’s great.” Someone asked if Bulgaria was in South America. Someone else asked why Belgium needed English teachers. Someone else asked if I would have to eat snake.
A girl from the department next to ours came bounding into the office. She waved her hand around. “I’m engaged!” she shouted.
The women around me all squealed. They crowded around her to see the ring. “Congratulations,” they said. “Tell us everything.”
When you put your work out into the world, some people will be with you and some won’t. Bulgaria was a great experience even if plenty of people said, “Oh, I’d never do anything like that.” Or “I wish I could do that.” Or “Why?”
Why is it so scary if someone doesn’t like what you write? It is entirely possible that I will sell no art at the festival and that I will never get published. What’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like I’ll give up and watch TV. What would make you change your mind and decide writing is something you shouldn’t do?
If you get nervous about sharing your work, who inspires you to keep going? What keeps you from giving up? If you don’t get nervous about sharing your work, why the hell not? What’s your secret?