“When you’re on the edge and looking down
With all the lights flashing around
Stars shine above your head
Don’t you give up just yet.”
~Graham Colton, Cellophane Girl
Confession: There’s a good chance that this post was inspired solely by the fact that I’m excited to see Graham in concert tonight. Seriously, y’all (I know, I know, northerners don’t get to use that phrase, but since ROM and its sequel both take place in Atlanta, I consider myself an honorary southerner by heart), you should check out his music. I was first introduced to him when he opened for Kelly Clarkson on her Breakaway and Hazel Eyes tours back in 2005, and have been a fan ever since. There’s a very real, very relatable, very genuine quality to his songs, one that makes you realize he just gets it. The lyrics are honest, the melodies are intriguing, and the combined result both inspires and encourages. It’s clear that Graham believes in and feels the music, and he shares that vibe with his listeners.
My favorite line from the song that opens this post is: “On the edge of the world, she’d rather jump than just look down.” Sometimes there are lyrics that truly speak to you, and for me, that’s one of them. I’ve always been the kind of person who reaches for the stars instead of just wishing on them, and this publishing journey has taken that to a new level. There are so many points when it would be easier to step away from the edge, to back away from the never-ending cavern of emotions. I could write the books, but not push them – and myself – to the very strongest. I could finish the books, but save myself from the off-the-charts stress that comes from querying agents. I could try to detach myself from my work enough to even out the emotional roller coaster that this process takes writers on every day. Except … I really couldn’t. I really can’t. Maybe that’s because I’m a perfectionist, maybe it’s because I’m so invested in my characters that I find myself thinking about them countless times throughout the day, maybe it’s both. Definitely it’s more.
I don’t want to work on a book that doesn’t push me further. I don’t want to write a novel that isn’t the best version of itself that I can make it. I don’t want to give in to the stress of the querying, the waiting, the I-have-a-new-email-time-for-my-heart-to-skip-a-beat feeling. Patience is a virtue for a reason, and this industry is the best real-life teacher of that. This might sound corny, but it’s something I believe in whole-heartedly: we never stop learning. We never stop growing. We never stop evolving. We should never want to stop. Through plotting, through outlining, through writing, through querying, and yes, even through waiting, a whole new world of understanding and possibilities has opened up to me. That’s something I’ll be forever grateful for (and something I remind myself of every time I refresh my email/check my phone/count the days since I sent off material). I kind of feel like I’m standing right at the edge these days, on the brink of my greatest dreams and most fervent wishes. Would it be easier to just stand there and look down on them? Sure. But am I going to jump anyway, even without knowing if I’ll land on both feet? Without a doubt. I’m going to keep leaping with an open heart and open arms, doing everything in my power to grab the world that’s waiting. Stars shine above, and hopes linger below, ready to be snatched up.
Here’s hoping Graham sings this song tonight. And that wearing heels will prevent me from looking as short as I did in last year’s picture with him.
What about you? Are you a looker or a jumper when it comes to your dreams?