In a Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque I dipped a stale tortilla chip into too-mild, runny salsa, while self-doubt crawled all over me like too many cucarachas. I was on a lunch break from a writers’ conference and feeling like a total fraud.
Even though I’d been writing for years, the book business was very new to me and as out of my comfort zone as backflipping down a ski slope. I’d finished a novel, lost a publishing contest, and started the excruciating process of querying agents. Even though I’d published a couple short stories, my collection of Thanks-but-this-just-isn’t-for-us emails, made me feel more rejected than my tween days of roller skating solo during the couples’ skate.
Although the conference was inspiring and informative, it also brought out a heaping pile of insecurities. (As if skating alone to Journey’s Open Arms as twelve year old didn’t give me enough of a complex!) Being in a room full of published, agented, and assuredly more talented writers made me shake a figurative finger at the mirror in my mind and ask Who do you think you are, thinking you could write?
Just as I let this negative thought niggle through my brain, I looked to the heavily tattooed couple at the table beside me. I noticed a quote on the woman’s arm and squinted my aging eyes to make out the inky cursive.
She believed she could, so she did.
Could it really be that simple? Caramba! I swallowed the last bite of my spinach enchilada while those words sizzled in my psyche like the plate of fajitas at the table behind me. I’d been a believer in the power of words for years. I’d seen them work in various areas of my life. Some of my old standbys were:
An obstacle is just a stepping stone.
Know your limitations and then defy them.
The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
Why couldn’t I employ that thinking in that very moment to turn around my lack of confidence when it came to my writing? I paid the lunch check complimented the woman on her tattoo, and headed back to the conference propelled by new favorite mantra…She believed she could, so she did.
The lesson here Amigos? If you ever find yourself wallowing in a puddle of salsa with head hanging low like you’re Charlie Brown, don’t despair. Even if you don’t see an inspiring quote in someone else’s body art, just remember the absolute positive power of words. To inspire. To attract. To change your life. If you believe you can, you will!
Posted in: Essays