A week ago, I did not think I would be swimming where I am. For years, I have stood at the publishing pool with my toes curled tightly around the edge to keep myself from falling in before I was ready. I’ve written and read and thought and talked and consulted and then repeated the process over and over. The water has always looked inviting, but I know from others’ experiences that dangers and disappointments lurk beneath the surface. So I stood there, day after day, watching and waiting until last week when a friend gave me a shove.

For the last eight months, I’ve been talking with my personal coach about what to do about my writing problem. It’s been a life-long, chronic condition. I’ve always preferred writing to speaking, and as a result, I have pages and files filled with words that have spilled out of my brain. But beyond a few articles, blog posts, school assignments, and personal correspondence, I’ve shared very little of my writing with anyone. Teaching others to write in English as a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) professor and later as an online junior high/high school writing coach put me on the safe side of writing critique. I could dish it out, but I always wondered, could I take it? Would my writing ever be good enough?

I’m about to find out. Last week when I tried to quietly sneak my small offering of three short stories onto Smashwords, I risked sending the link to my husband and coach, who have both been encouraging me to jump in for ever so long. My plan was to dip my big toe in the water by uploading the book and then casually mentioning it was available in a blog post–at some point. Not much risk, but I could say I had something out there and begin to learn the ropes of the self-publishing process.

Thursday afternoon, I had a coaching session in which I wondered what to do next. I spent most of the hour thinking up ways to postpone the plunge, but that was not to be. When I finished the phone call, I went online only to find my coach had given me a shove into the pool by posting the link to my book on Facebook.* And my husband had shared the link. And then someone else did.

I had to gulp for air at first. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how to swim. I hadn’t done enough research or gotten enough feedback to know if I could survive in these waters. And I still don’t know. But here I am doggy paddling around the edge. So far, I’m enjoying the water, and I’m grateful that a friend knew it was time to shove me in.

What about you? Do you need a friend to give you a push to do something you’ve been avoiding?

*For those who are working with a personal coach or thinking of doing so, do not be afraid. Coaches do not generally resort to such drastic measures. Mine knows me well enough to realize I needed this push.