I Really Need a Functioning Nimbus 2000: Another Harry Potter-Inspired Life Lesson

So it’s already halfway through October already.

WHAT.

I know. It feels as though Kick Ass Fall has just begun, but it’s well underway. And good things have been a-happenin’.

First off, I love my classes this semester. It’s a smidge nerdy, but I embrace it.

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Secondly, I’m loving the workouts, even though they put me through a slow physiological death every time I put my sneakers on. I’m developing a weird form of PTSD that flares up every time I hear Shaun T’s voice say “FOCUS!”

But there’s more!

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So I got accepted to a writer’s conference that takes place in Big Sur in December. I’m super stoked about it. But a few weeks ago, I had a lot of work to do, so naturally I was surfing the interwebs, instead.

For funsies, I searched other conferences, looking for the most intense and competitive ones I could find. I stumbled across one that is taking place in New York in December. It’s a straight-up “pitch” conference, which means you’re trying to get editors to take a look at your book. They accept 65 people.

It was late and I had work to do, so of course I dropped everything and applied. A few days later, I woke up to an email from the acceptance board… they liked m’stuff and offered me a spot. It’s like WHAAAAA?!?!?!

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I can’t tell you how many rejections I’ve gotten. (Yes I can. Six. Pasted below because I’m trying to condition myself to not feel the sick nausea of failure whenever I see them).

So it was great to finally win one. New York! Editors! The publishing world! They like me, they really like me!!! But then everything came crashing down with one painful realization. Oh, crap. I have to get on a plane.

I’m going to be real with you, here.

I’m going to be real with you, here.

I HATE FYLING. HATE IT. 

Seriously. I have nightmares where I’m on a plane and I think HOW DID I GET HERE?!?!?

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Now I know this is stupid. I am aware. It’s one of those “legitimate phobias” that no one I know ever lets really hinder them. I talk to people, and they’ll laugh and say “Oh yeah, flying freaks me out, too”.

But I’m thinking yeah… but you still get on planes. Life still goes on. If your novel got accepted to an AWESOME pitch conference, you wouldn’t think twice about jetsetting off to make your dreams come true.

I, however, am a huge fat chicken turd wimpy uncool freak. And yes, that’s an actual term. Psychologists use it to categorize people like me who would really, honestly consider letting an AMAZING opportunity pass them up because they’re scared of being in a tin box 30,000+ feet in the air. And if it isn’t a real term, well… there’s a lesson about not believing everything you read on the Internet.

I remember when it started. I used to love flying. I’d crank my iPod and spend the whole flight staring out the window. I used to have fun. But then I had one bad flight on the way home from Nicaragua in 2008, and everything changed. The plane started bumping around and suddenly I wasn’t sitting there serenely humming “A Whole New World” to myself… I was clutching the armrests like WHAT IS GOING ON OMGOSH WE’RE GOING DOWN DEAR LORD PLEASE DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN I JUST GOT A BOYFRIEND TWO WEEKS AGO AND I AM VERY MUCH LOOKING FORWARD TO COLLEGE.

And then my Dad, who was sleeping through the madness, woke up all like “Oh. It’s just turbulence, Katie.” I nodded.

It was the first time I ever experienced turbulence, and I WAS NOT OKAY.

I was still able to get on the flight to Germany a few months later to go study abroad and I managed to trick myself into getting on a plane to Africa in 2010, though I recruited the help of those little bottles of white wine for the return trip. Did you know one drink on the ground equals three in the air? I didn’t. And I’m sure Ross had a really great time explaining to people that we were coming back from a mission trip while I made air pistols at the flight attendants and stumbled around looking for my shoes. Think

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…only covered in a month’s worth of I just spent 30 days in a developing country.

The last time I flew was for our honeymoon, two years ago. And I don’t know if it was the anxiety of the wedding all coming to a head or what, but the anxiety scrambled my brain and I really felt like I couldn’t handle doing it again. So Ross, being the amazing husband that he is, booked us train tickets for the trip home. It ended up being a cool ride back, but I don’t like that fear enveloped me that completely.

And I hate that even when I was bouncing off the walls with excitement from the acceptance, a little voice in the back of my head was like…yeah, but this means you’ll need to get on a plane.

We can’t drive – I’ve already looked in to that. I have to work on Tuesday night, and I’d need to be there on Thursday morning. And a train would take too long.

It’s fear vs. ambition, at this point, and I know what my answer should be, even though fear is coiling at the base of my spine and making me irrational. But Irrational Me sucks, and Brave Me is still fighting. I have to do this.

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So I’ve toiled about it the last few week or so, trying to talk myself into the skin I want to be in. I want to be brave and I want to be strong and I am SO TIRED of my mind making a fool out of me.

It is so much easier to be brave ::in theory::

So I venture back to Harry Potter (SORRY I’M NOT SORRY).

When Harry walked down to face Voldemort at the end of the seventh book, we all cheered for him, even as we were all thinking Rowling, you’d better not kill of Harry Potter. I almost lost it with Hedwig, and killing Fred was a cheap shot. But –seriously- if you dragged me along for seven years only to KILL HARRY, I WILL BOYCOTT YOU FOR LIFE. 

OR AT LEAST UNTIL YOU WRITE ANOTHER BOOK. BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY I WILL READ IT. 

Anyway, back to the point. It’s so easy to distance ourselves from the reality of fear. Harry is walking through the forest, going to meet his fate, and we know it’s scary. Logically, we know it’s scary. But for Harry, it was a fear that filled his bones. The fear wasn’t literary or poetic and it wasn’t like he was walking toward his death like actually, this makes sense. How did I not see this coming?

(Yes, I’m referring to Harry Potter as a real person).

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For me, walking down that death tube after the gate that leads to the plane is pretty close to how Harry felt when he was walking toward Voldemort. Because the fear is real. It’s not cute, not poetic, and not oh this will make a great story.

I want to turn around. I want to chicken out, just like I used to when I was a kid and I got all the way through the line of a roller coaster only to stop when it came time to climb in like Nope. I like life. Thanks, though.

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But I need to do it. I need to. Not because this conference could change my life (and it could), but because I cannot live with this version of myself that would let fear take something like this from me.

In that last scene, Harry could have walked away. He could have slipped out of Hogwarts, booked it down to Hogsmeade, stuffed his pockets full of Treacle Tarts, and disappeared into the night.

No one would have blamed him.

But Harry is the main character, and main characters (or at least good ones, not the crappy type you read about in novels that get critical acclaim at Barnes & Noble) don’t sacrifice important things because of fear.

I don’t have a Hogsmeade to run to. My version of pansy-assing out would be to quietly give up my spot at the conference, ready the car for a four-day drive across country, and force a smile while I tell myself you didn’t really want to go, anyway. Conferences are stupid. I can’t do that. I’ve done that too many times in my life. There are things that I’ve passed up because of fear that I cannot let myself admit aloud because I’m too embarrassed that this really lame side of me took over and made me, well –

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…something like that.

A verse that has spoken to my heart for a while now (and is starting to feel like my life motto) is:  

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
-2 Timothy
1:7

Because it’s true. I cannot waste my life with this terrible weight on me. I got ish to do, goals to accomplish, blessings to enjoy, and a Lord to serve.

Fear?

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So I sucked it up, talked it over with Ross, prayed… and we’re going. It’s easier to say that now than it will be the night before we leave, but the decision is made. Opportunity is in New York. The means I need to go. Even if nothing else happens, I won the battle with myself. So I’m getting on that plane.

And I’ll get on the plane as many times as I need to until this fear is gone.

…at least until they invent Floo Powder.

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