Writing Past the Fear

By guest blogger Valeka Cruz

FOR AS LONG as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a writer.

By the time I was eight years old, I knew that I wanted to create magical stories with characters that spoke to my readers. I spent hour upon hour in my bedroom writing short stories, scripts based on TV shows I watched and, at one point, I even wrote a book (a short book but a book nonetheless).

Some were handwritten on loose-leaf notebook paper and others were typed using my parents old baby blue Smith-Corona typewriter. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “a writer.”

One day during one of these conversations, a very close family member asked if he could read something I had written. I eagerly ran to my bedroom to carefully select the story I felt was my best. With a sense of pride and a smile on my face, I handed him the handwritten pages.

As he read the story, I searched his face for any indication of what he may be thinking of it. When he finished, he handed it back and said it was “okay.” He proceeded to inform me that the career I sought was neither practical nor sensible.

“Do you know how hard it is to become a published writer? So many people try but fail.”

I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to be published but my heart was broken. If this person I trusted didn’t think I was capable of being a writer, then how could anyone else think otherwise? Or how could I believe I could, for that matter.

From that point on, any writing I did was in secret and went unshared. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my stock answer became “I’m not sure yet.”

I never completely abandoned the notion of becoming a writer but I did keep it to myself. It was (is!) the passion of my life and I knew I could never really walk away from it. For years, most of my writing was done in the form of journaling.

After a few years, I finally got up the nerve to take a screenwriting workshop, but the idea of being told my work was just “okay” stayed in my head.

During the course, I learned I’d be required to share my work with other workshop participants. We were asked to write specific types of scenes and the scenes would be read aloud. I was reluctant to share and hoped I wouldn’t have to. I even considered not attending on the day I was to have my scenes read.

After the readings, I was told I showed a great deal of talent and promise as a writer. I started to believe that maybe, just maybe, I was cut out to be a writer.

Feeling renewed, I mentioned to the same family member that I was giving writing another whirl. Again, he had the same reaction. Again, I wondered why I was even bothering with the idea of becoming a writer. From what I’d been told, the odds of me selling anything were slim and screenwriting was far from “practical or sensible.”

The secret writing began again. Journals continued to be filled.

After I completed that workshop, only those closest to me knew I was a closeted writer. I didn’t allow them to read anything I’d written. My continued journaling eventually led me to blogging. It wasn’t until I created my health and wellness blog a year ago that I allowed a select few—and when I say a “few,” I mean three people—to read anything I had written. I kept my blog as anonymous as possible by not having my name on it, never putting pictures of myself on it and never promoting it.

I began to receive a lot of positive feedback from the few friends I allowed to read it. They related to what I was saying but, most importantly, they believed in ME. They began sharing my blog posts with others through social media and email. Soon I was receiving comments from total strangers expressing how they related to my stories and struggles.

I finally felt my writing had purpose. What I was sharing was resonating with many others so how could my writing be just okay? The truth was, it was more than okay. I write from my heart to empower others to do what they think they cannot and, by doing so, I have empowered myself.

Now I guest blog for various websites and I’m working on my first novel. I used my newfound confidence in my abilities as a writer to let that family member know I’m writing for various websites and that they appreciate what I write. He said “This writing thing seems to have happened overnight, don’t you think?” I replied with “Nope. It’s been 30 years in the making and it’s here to stay.”

I don’t like to think about the time I’ve lost being closeted by fear and negativity. I prefer to think about my future as a writer and embracing the opportunities that I have NOW. It’s been a long, hard road to get to this place but this is my time to shine and I’m loving every minute of it!

Valeka Cruz

Valeka & Karlee


Valeka Cruz (@runningonheavy) is a freelance writer and blogger living happily in Austin Texas with her three fur babies. Her weekly blog, Running On Heavy, provides health and wellness motivation along with life lessons. She loves chocolate, hiking, laughing, hot tea and, especially, writing (not necessarily in that order depending on what kind of a day it is).

Please leave a comment for my guest writer

16 Responses to Writing Past the Fear
  1. Carole
    Twitter: cjtreggett
    April 13, 2012 | 9:12 AM

    Hi Valeka,
    Wow, thanks so much for sharing such a valuable and well-written story with us. I can really, really relate to your experience with a close family member. I think there are many writers out there who haven’t been encouraged to pursue their talents and dreams. I did the same as you, wrote my stories, poems, essays,and plays in private (ok, when I was 8/9 years of age, I did get’direct’my younger brothers to reluctantly act out a few of my plays lol).

    Today, none of my immediate family members read my work online, nor do they ever ask me how my creative career is going. Warm, supportive community forums like the one Milli has established and nurtured on Fear of Writing can really encourage us to leave all that criticism and lack of understanding behind.

    Congratulations on your current publishing successes. So very glad to hear you’re passionately pursuing your writing dreams in the NOW. The world needs what you have to share!

  2. Valeka
    Twitter: runningonheavy
    April 13, 2012 | 11:02 AM

    Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Carole! I am very grateful to have found a community such as the one that Milli has created. While I do have some family that is encouraging and interested in what I am doing, I have found that the people I have met in groups such as this and my friends have been the most supportive.

    All the best to you!

  3. Lois
    April 13, 2012 | 5:40 PM

    It’s sad that there are people out there who feel a need to run down the dreams of others or to be “the voice of practicality.” It’s also encouraging that there are people like you who continue to write in spite of those nagging voices of pessimism. Keep up the great work!


  4. Valeka
    Twitter: runningonheavy
    April 13, 2012 | 5:44 PM

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Lois! Dream squashers are an unfortunate breed. I am so pleased that you found my contribution to be encouraging! I will keep up the great work if you do!!

    Hugs to you!

    • Lois
      April 16, 2012 | 1:16 PM

      It’s a deal! 🙂

  5. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    April 13, 2012 | 8:58 PM

    While my story is nowhere near as heartbreaking as yours with the direct dashing of dreams, it IS similar in some ways. It never occurred to me (an English major, on the newspaper and yearbook in college, and an avid reader, writer of stories when I was young, a magazine writer/editor professionally) that I could even dare to DREAM of being a novelist.

    When I was 22 o 23, a friend challenged me and said, “why not?” I got to thinking: yes, why not? Sadly, my high school and even my college program didn’t really encourage creative writing and never planted that seed. I simply thought it was unattainable because “other people” did that. So I never really entertained the thought.

    I have done plenty of writing in my communications career, but it’s just not the same as fiction. So I share in your frustrations of “lost time.” For me, it wasn’t someone NOT believing in me or dashing my dreams, it was the lack of suggestion/possibility that stopped me from dreaming in the first place. (Like you, I continued to struggle with my own insecurities once I decided to try fiction … with on-and-off fiction writing episodes for years). Now I’m serious, and now I think, “why not? I can do this.” I even won a cool semi-finalist award from the William Faulkner-William Wisdom competition for my novel in progress that is inspiring me to keep going.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Valeka, and thanks, Milli for the great guest post. Keep writing, V! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t!

    • Valeka
      Twitter: runningonheavy
      April 14, 2012 | 12:51 AM

      Thank you so much for your comment, Melissa! Isn’t it amazing what we are capable of doing once we get serious and think “why not”? Kudos to you on your award!! That’s so fabulous!

      I am going to keep on plugging away. I love writing too much to NOT do it! And being a part of this wonderful community that Milli has created certainly helps. We can all keep each other motivated and encouraged!

      Happy Writing!

  6. Ann
    April 13, 2012 | 9:44 PM

    Wow – what a powerful story! To keep writing in the face of someone you trusted saying it wasn’t for you is incredible! Girlfriend, you ARE a writer! Congratulations for sticking with it!

    • Valeka
      Twitter: runningonheavy
      April 14, 2012 | 12:54 AM

      Thank you so much, Ann! It does feel great to finally be able to say “I’m a writer”. And it feels even better to show these comments to the naysayers 🙂

      All The Best,

  7. Karen Ann
    April 14, 2012 | 2:10 PM


    I have never been through anything like what you have been through. When I first decided I wanted to write, I was blessed to have found Milli. I never, ever even thought of writing as a hobby or professionally.

    You wrote, “By the time I was eight years old, I knew that I wanted to create magical stories with characters that spoke to my readers,” and I can honestly say this has never happened to me. My writing desires came from living with parrots and wanting to write about them. The parrots have created their own magic and I want to share my experiences with children. Each parrot is a character all by itself and I have some magical, humorous, and enjoyable stories about which to write because of them.

    Luckily, meeting Milli and having her as a course presenter in FoW101, I feel this desire could one day become reality.

    I want to thank you for sharing your story with us. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    • Valeka
      Twitter: runningonheavy
      April 14, 2012 | 3:09 PM

      Hi there, Karen Ann! I think that is part of the beauty of writing – the inspiration to do it can come from so many places. Some of those places are deep inside of us and others are from the people or things around us. I think it’s wonderful that your love of parrots has led you to writing.

      It was my pleasure to share my story with you and everyone in Milli’s writer’s haven! Keep writing! I look forward to hearing more about the stories you are creating!

      Hugs to you!

  8. Charlotte Rains Dixon
    Twitter: wordstrumpet
    April 15, 2012 | 11:04 AM

    Isn’t it amazing what the words of one person can do to us? He probably thought he was doing you a favor. Ha! I’m so glad you followed your inner voice and carried on with your writing in secret–and now in public. A great story and thanks for sharing it.

    • Valeka
      Twitter: runningonheavy
      April 15, 2012 | 4:09 PM

      I do believe he felt he was doing me a favor. And in a way, he did. It made me dig deep within myself to make sure this is what I really wanted for myself. It also helps me to encourage those around me who are unsure about whether or not to follow their own bliss. Thank you so much for reading my post, Charlotte! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

      Best Wishes,

  9. Ramakrishna "Cram" Chavali
    April 29, 2012 | 7:20 AM

    Hi Valeka, Thank you for sharing your story. Your persistence is inspiring.
    – Cram

  10. John
    May 5, 2012 | 7:01 PM

    Hello Valeka,
    What a insightful and heartfelt story. I was especially impressed when you said that you “wanted to create magical stories with characters that spoke to my readers.” Your story did speak to me. I am glad that you were able overcome the critics from your young and impressionable years. I do congratulate you on your current successes. With my own writings I was fortunate to have Lois as my course presenter in FoW 101, she did a great job in keeping my internal nagging voices of pessimism at bay.

    • Lois
      May 5, 2012 | 8:49 PM

      Thanks, John! 😀

      You were a great student, too–you and Cram. It was a real pleasure working with you both! 🙂


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