kim faires photography + stuff

Success and the Simple Sandcastle.

Ahh ... beach. Sigh.

Steven Pressfield has made me change my mind.

Because this is the post I was going to write, then decided not to write, but am now writing.


Because of him.

Or, rather, because of his book—The War of Art—but, more specifically, because of what he wrote in that book.

On pages 142, 143, and 144.

But, before I get into this, I need to lay the background:

You see, I’m kinda-sorta addicted to self-help books. I have a kinda-sorta love-hate relationship with them.

The pattern goes something like this:

  1. I hear about a book.
  2. I think, “Hey! That sounds good. That should help me cope with my miserable existence ….
  3. I read the book, and it either has little of worth to say about my miserable existence, in which case I move to step 5, or it gets me excited enough to follow all its instructions, in an attempt to improve my miserable existence.
  4. Until the point when I stop following its instructions.
  5. Then I read another book (usually one recommended by the previous book).
  6. And then I repeat steps 2 through 5.

I do this for, oh, I dunno, 6 months or so. Until I’ve read a sh*tload of books. And until I’ve tied myself into one big Gordian Knot obsessing over my shortcomings and how to fix them.

Then I get frustrated. And then I get mad. (Not mad in a hatter way of course but, you know, mad. Angry. Irritated. Piss-o-Rama’d.)

I rail at the walls. The plants. The sky. The weather. My state of dress.

I tell myself, “No more f**king self-help books!” And I seriously contemplate trashing all the ones I own.

But I don’t.

I just coast for 6 more months. Until time lulls me back into my stupor of discontent.

And then I start again. I hear about a book….

And this continues on. And on.

And, admittedly, I have learned a great many things about myself in the process. And I’ve read much that I can relate to on a very deep level.

But there is always this one thing that many of these books mention that I have never been able to wrap my mind around:


I’ve always read that phrase and thought, “Huh? No. No. That’s not the case. How could that be the case? I don’t feel that.” It’s just never really resonated with me.

Until now.

So much so, that I KNEW what Mr. Pressfield was leading up to when he started talking about the Real Fear, the Master Fear, the MOTHER OF ALL FEARS:


I knew that’s what it was going to say before I even saw the words on the page.

And how did I know this?

Because a gift was sent to me about a month ago that taught me all about this fear.

Something happened that made me realize that, oh yes, I CAN relate to this fear. That I have it. (In spades, if you please.) And that it has been holding me back for a long time now.

Yes. Something happened.


Ok, this is what happened:

Colleen Wainwright commented on my blog.

That’s right. The Communicatrix commented on my blog.

How innocuous is that? Hm? Quite. But nonetheless it sent me on ye ol’ loop-the-loop didn’t it?

After all, there I was happily building my little sandcastles in what I thought was my own little anonymous corner of the internet-sandbox, safely tucked away amongst trillions of websites, hidden from all but a few friends and acquaintances when …

BAM! There it was: a comment from a serious blogger.

A respected blogger. A real writer. And a seriously funny person.

Whom I have never actually met.

And there I was, unsuspecting me, unexpectedly sucked into the web vortex. Caught blinking in the bright light. As though one of the big players in the sandbox (the ones out in the very middle busying themselves building SAND CITIES and SAND EMPIRES) just happened to glance over her shoulder at my little corner and go, “Oh, hey. Nice castle.”

And, you know, I nodded. I smiled. Heh-heh. I calmly responded to the comment (yes, we’re off the sandbox analogy now):

And then … I PANICKED:

OMG and Holy sh*t! … people actually read this thing? … really talented people in far off places actually read this thing? What the hell do I do now?  Should I write more often? What if there are others OUT THERE that are actually reading this … I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT I AM DOING!! I need to be funnier … I’m not funny … Oh God … I’m going to die …”


And then I calm down, I get a grasp on myself, and I realize that what I am experiencing is a fear of success.

Yes. And it’s really quite scary. Hell, just the idea—the merest possibility—of success is scary.

I mean, I went and put myself out there, and someone responded. Whoa. Someone new. Someone outside my family. Or my circle of friends. Someone I’ve never seen face to face. Someone not on my facebook friends list.

That is the scary of the scary.

Because if I’m successful—if a whole bunch of people out there start reading my blog—then it means I’m accountable. I now have to put my money where my mouth is and, you know, hang out in the bright light with all my ideals. Watched.

My heart is in my mouth just thinking about it.

And maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll just continue messing around in my little corner of the sandbox in peaceful obscurity.

Either way, it doesn’t really matter.

All that matters is that I punched through something here. I learned a valuable lesson about myself. A bogeyman has been dragged out of the shadows and had his mask ripped off so that I can get a better look at him. And now I have a better idea of what I’m up against.

And all because CW decided to leave a comment on my blog. Yay!

And, as my incredibly wise friend in San Diego told me, this is what flow feels like.

All I need to do is go with it. My action—my commitment—is attracting certain people and situations into my life. And, just maybe, as I already mentioned in a previous post, the universe is lining up for me. And I should expect more of this.

But I think this is a pretty big break-through for me as it is.

A pretty big break-through that I didn’t want to write about.

Because I was, uh, worried that CW would read this (again) and, you know, think I was some kind of crazy-assed hero-worshipper … or cyber stalker … or pathetic bumpkin with nothing else to do but link my silly little dinghy of a blog to her big stylin’ cruise ship, like, a BAZILLION times ….

And that just wouldn’t be cool.

So, no. Wasn’t going to write this post.

But then, along comes The War of Art.

I stay up late reading it, and, when I’m finished, I know that I have to write this post.

I know that I have to find the courage to share this.

That I can’t be scared of being authentic. (You’ll find that bit on page 152).

So I do. And I did.

And now it’s done. And I feel better. Because I followed my heart and put myself out there. Again.

And, hey, I didn’t die. (And I was so sure I was going to.)

So, if by chance you’re reading this CW, thanks again for dropping by and shaking up the place for awhile.

It was really cool.

But now I have to get back to my work. So I’m heading back to my corner of the sandbox to continue building my castle.


Image by vpickering on Flickr, licensed under a Creative Commons.

6 comments on “Success and the Simple Sandcastle.

  1. Chelsea
    July 29, 2010

    Sooner or later you are going to be the one building Sand Cities and Sand Empires! Enjoy the flow :)


    • kim
      July 29, 2010

      Thanks Chels! Your eternal optimism is truly a thing to behold. (Where can I get some?) Oh. And the cupcake picture is HERE. I thought it was on your fb. Really. You must change that avatar … it truly is killing me ….


  2. Emily Diehl
    July 30, 2010

    Good post, Kim. A very accurate assessment of being starstruck … and not letting it stop you.

    (Also, I think you asked my mother for the name of the program I had recommended, and she passed on the question … sorry I totally forgot! It’s called Privoxy.)


    • kim
      July 30, 2010

      Thank you Em!

      And now I have an easy link to your blog! Which I’m sure is a bit deeper and meatier than mine …. ;)



  3. J
    August 6, 2010

    Authenicity is hard. Kim I loved this post. I struggle with it ALL the time.
    Now you’ve inspired me!


    • kim
      August 6, 2010

      Bonus! Inspiration is addictive. Thanks for dropping by and joining in J!


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This entry was posted on July 29, 2010 by in Long-winded Existential Angst and tagged , , , , , .

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