Taking the Leap

I can’t do this.

I stand on the edge of the cliff, looking down to the water. Wow, this is so high. Just standing here makes me dizzy. I can’t do this.

My sister waves at me from below, where she’s treading water. She’s already jumped and she jumped from the next highest section of the cliff. I wipe my sweating palms on my shorts. She’s fearless.

I, on the other hand, am afraid of heights. I take a couple of  deep breaths. Each second that passes, makes it that much harder to take the next step. It’s not that I’m afraid of falling really. I love roller coasters, the more intense the better, but on a roller coaster you’re strapped in. This isn’t controlled. I’m not strapped in. This is freedom. This is terrifying.

This is what you came here to do, I argue with myself. You wanted to do this, plus you’re going to be really embarrassed if you jump from the low end. I stop looking down and instead look straight ahead. The flat surface of the water glistens in the mid-afternoon sunlight. Further out a lime green boat zips across the water pulling an inner tube behind it. Focusing out instead of down helps, a little. I clench my fists. I can do this, just one step, one little step.

I jump.


I’m falling and I’m falling longer than what I thought I would be. I scream but it’s not from terror. This feeling, it’s amazing. I make sure my body stays straight right before I hit the water. It stings a little but I think my adrenaline has kicked in. When I surface my sister is right there.

“It was worth it, right?” She says with a grin.

I wipe the water from my face and laugh. “Totally worth it.”

Sometimes editing my book feels like I’m jumping off of that cliff all over again.

I put it off, afraid to take that next step, wondering if after all the effort I put into it, it still won’t be right. Suddenly I’m back on the edge, staring down into the water. The more I look at it, the scarier it becomes.

But then there are the times when I do take that leap and I dive into the work. Sometimes, it’s hard, seemingly impossible. But then there are the times when I’ll make progress, have a breakthrough, fall in love with the story all over again. Every time I take that leap, it’s worth it.

I want to remind myself of this every day. Don’t put things off. Don’t be afraid. Take the next step.

Have you ever felt like this? What does your cliff look like?

It’s not just the leap of faith that’s required of us but the fall of faith and the climb of faith then the leap of faith again.


About Brittany Valentine

Saved by grace, sibling one of eight, part-timer by day, speculative fiction writer by night. Working on a series called The Chronicles of Aura.

8 comments on “Taking the Leap

  1. Cliff diving is SOOOO beyond my ability. I’m such a horrid acrophobe, I can’t even GET to the cliff, never mind jump from it. You, therefore, have my deep and abiding admiration.

    Also, being in shape such as I am (because ROUND is a shape), it would have probably been fatal. Or, y’know, caused a tsunami racing toward the opposite shoreline, wherever that may be.

    But, on editing… I think I found the process daunting, but not frightening. There’s a lot to do, a lot to look for, a lot to try and keep in your head. So, instead of trying to do this in one go, you might consider looking for single aspects at a time.

    F’rinstance, make a pass through the document just looking for any weird typos. Then do a find-replace process on prepositional phrases (because final draft = (first draft word count) – 10%, per Stephen King, who got it from someone he thought might have been Algis Budrys, who was awesome). When you find prepositional phrases, ask if you can replace them with stronger verb/noun choices, same as you do with adverbs.

    Okay, take a breather. Job well done. Now, go kill any and all kill-able adverbs and adjectives. Take another breather. Heck, you’ve worked hard, go have some ice cream, because you’re awesome.

    Now, go through again and look for any time line issues. Shore ’em up as you can. Write new scenes if you need ’em. Hack old scenes if they ain’t payin’ rent. You know what to do.

    And just…do it in smaller bits. Then take a nap, or give yourself a high five, because you’re awesome.

    Hey, look kid – you jumped off a frickin’ CLIFF. How hard can moving words around on a document be? Let this blog post – which is awesome – be your perspective.

    You can do this. You got this. You’re awesome.

    Go be awesome. 🙂

  2. Starting my freelance editing business felt like this sometimes. But without risks, nothing gets done.

  3. Whenever I make the decision to ignore one pile of things on my to-do list to tackle another pile (say, to stop writing blog articles to write fiction, to stop writing fiction to focus on homeschooling), I feel this sense of mild terror. What if I never come back to that other thing? What if it falls apart while I’m not paying attention to it?

    Eventually, I realize the source of my hesitation and take the leap anyway, but it often sneaks in at a low level and causes procrastination for quite a while before I realize what’s causing my hesitation.

    • So maybe pinpointing the real reason behind the procrastination would help me not to procrastinate so much, meeting it head on and pressing through anyway.

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