Even If It's Scary

Even If It’s Scary

November 10, 2011

I saw this window display in one of the coolest stores ever when I was in Port Townsend a while back. It’s called The Writer’s Workshoppe and, as another sign said, “This shop is for anyone who wants to write, has to write, aches to write, can’t write, wishes they could write, is scared to write. It’s for those who don’t know where to start, or where to end. It’s for anyone interested in developing the craft of writing.”

I took the picture because it made me think of my daughter Hilary, who follows that advice every day. She’s a writer who writes, no matter what. She’s brave.

And really you could put so many pursuits on that first card and it would still be good advice. Because trying to do anything well — putting yourself out there — is scary. And hard.

Next week I will be speaking to some high school students about photography. And I’m scared. I don’t feel at all qualified to stand as a representative PHOTOGRAPHER. I’m just one person who wants to do it, has to do it, aches to do it, can’t do it, wishes I could do it, and is scared to do it.

What I mainly want to tell the students is that a good camera is not a ticket to fame, fortune and glory. But if you care about the craft and strive to learn and improve, photography is an excellent way to add value to your life. It can allow you to explore and express, to stretch, to dare and to discover. Among other things, you’ll discover how you see the world as you strive to develop your authentic visual voice. You will leave your own trace. Yes, it’s scary. Often those things that are exciting and worthwhile are.

And while I can’t direct the students to a bricks-and-mortar photography “shoppe” like The Writer’s Workshoppe in Port Townsend, I can let them know about an amazing community of generous and talented souls ready and willing to take this journey with them. If you are interested in photography, they are there for you too. Let me introduce you to the contributors to Craft and Vision. Meet the storytellers on Rear Curtain. You don’t have to do this alone.

I imagine I’ll disappoint some students with that news about fame, fortune and glory. But I hope I’ll inspire others to do it anyway. They may have something to say that can’t be said any other way, or by any other person. And if they do, wouldn’t you like the opportunity to see those photographs? I know I would.

So I’ll talk to them. Even if it’s scary.


  1. Dorothy, sounds like you have it all wrapped up – everything you’ve said in this post is gold. Good luck with the talk *makes victory sign*

  2. I wish I could be there to cheer you on but really you won’t need it. Scary is good. It not only means you’ll be ready but also that you allow yourself to feel and the students will respond to your authenticity. Big Hug!

    P.S. Thanks for the mentions!

    • I have learned so much in the past year, thanks to you, Ray, David, Stuart, and the rest of the wonderful community that surrounds you all. I hope I can share the philosophy in a way the students find engaging. I’ll do my best!

  3. Hi Dorothy,
    I too wish I could be there…

  4. Hi Dorothy,
    I’m a student at Albany High School who attended your presentation
    on Career Day. I really enjoyed your presentation and was inspired to pursue
    photography as a hobby, if not a career. Your presentation was my favorite
    of the three I went to. Hopefully if you speak next year, you won’t be nervous
    and you will feel qualified because you are the perfect representative: an honest
    success story with great advice.
    Maya Delany
    PS. I really liked the Ira Glass video that you started with!

    • Maya, thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. Your words mean the world to me. I’m so happy you found the presentation interesting, and I’m delighted that you will be pursuing photography. If there is any way I can be of help along the way, please reach out. I hope we’ll meet again!

  5. I was there too at the presentation at Career Day & you inspired me! Your honesty and encouragment (and realistic view) went a long way to helping the students who hear you speak. If not right this minute, then in the future. I’m sure of it.

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