Friday, August 11, 2023

Good Enough to be Fearless by Tammy D. Walker


Tammy has a great fearless post for us. She looked those naysayers in the face and fearlessly pursued her dreams. 

I'd heard it again and again from teachers and fellow students: "You're just not good enough."  I'd heard it often enough from other people that I even began telling myself "You're just not good enough."  So I'd always taken the safe route. 

The safe route, for me, did not involve anything to do with math or science, even though I'd loved those subjects when I was younger.  When I reached high school, though, something about my connection to math and science changed.  I don't know if it was just the usual adolescent social and emotional upheaval, that teaching styles changed, or if my inability to memorize seemingly unrelated numbers and facts and formulas caught up with me.  It didn't help to hear my math teacher--I had the same one the last three years of high school--constantly remind us that if we couldn't do math as well as an engineer, well, we were all failures in life.  

And when my high school computer science teacher told me that I'd asked a "stupid question," well, that pretty much ended my interest.  Which was devastating on some level.  I'd spent a lot of time programming the family Commodore 64 when I was younger, and I'd enjoyed bringing together my love of computers and my love of music. 

 So, when I went to college, I studied "easy subjects," psychology and sociology.  (My favorite psychology class was, you guessed it, statistics.)  And then, during my last semester, I took a class on Shakespeare.  My professor told me I was more than good enough at writing analyses of plays, so why not be an English major?  So after a year of not finding a suitable job with my psychology BA, I enrolled in a master's program in English.  Because I was good enough at that. 

Studying English boosted my confidence--here was something I was more than just "good enough" at!  And I discovered that maybe I was also good enough at creative writing, too.  So after I finished up my master's degree, I enrolled in a PhD program, studying poetry, both as a critic and a writer.  

All the while, though, I kept my connections to technology.  I created websites for student groups.  I studied more about the databases I used to organize submissions to the literary magazine I worked for.  And, after I graduated, I took a job at another university that involved administrative tasks for their distance education.  Which meant more databases and, even better, course management systems. 

My manager at that job asked me where I saw myself going in a few years.  The only way up was to pursue management positions, and I knew that wasn't for me.  I also enjoyed teaching, but I didn't want to do that full time.  I was involved in technology upgrades in that position, and those upgrade projects fascinated me far more than any of my other tasks. 

So, I did some research and discovered that I could take online computer science classes through a community college.  I could learn more about databases and software development. 

Of course, I was nervous at first.  After all, I wasn't good enough at math, science, and especially computer programming.  Except I did really quite well at my online college classes.  And I remembered how much I loved writing code.  Plus, I was able to get a good programming job not long after graduation. 

If I hadn't taken that risk, I don't think I would have taken other risks later on.  Proving to myself that I could successfully study computer programming and then work as a software developer gave me the confidence to take chances in other areas of my life. 

After finishing up my PhD in English, I stopped writing for years.  I never felt "good enough" at that either, in spite of publications and positive feedback from professors and peers.  After changing careers, though, I went back to writing.  Four published books in, I'm grateful that I felt confident enough to try writing (and submitting my work to publishers) again. 

This taking-a-chance theme stayed with me as I wrote my debut cozy mystery, Venus Rising.  In the book, Amy Morrison leaves her small Texas town to work as a librarian aboard a luxury British ocean liner.  And her risk pays off: she gets to experience the glitter and adventure of life aboard ship as well as friendship with people she might not have met had she stayed home.  She loves both her small town roots and her new life, and I feel the same: I love that I studied English, because I adore reading and writing, but I'm also grateful that I transitioned to a career as a software developer, because the work was interesting and it gave me such a confidence boost.  (It also helped me to create the IT staff and their work aboard the ship, too!) 

Like Amy, I'm still working on figuring out what "good enough" means for me.  Also, like Amy, I'm glad I've taken the risks I have.  

When the manager at my last software developer job told me that I was one of the best programmers he'd ever worked with, well, I think I can say I've officially reached "good enough." 

Almost as soon as recent divorcee Amy Morrison begins her dream job as librarian aboard the world’s most expensive luxury cruise liner, she nearly sinks it. She’s tasked with hosting the debut of a painting celebrated but hidden for nearly sixty years. But the artist claims the painting isn’t hers. And then, the artist goes missing. With the help of a retired academic couple lecturing aboard the ship, a dashing IT manager, and a housekeeping staff with a love of literature, Amy tries to solve the art fraud and kidnapping while rediscovering the adventurous side of herself. 

Buy links are the top of my website: and below 




Tammy D. Walker writes cozy mysteries, poetry, and science fiction.  Her debut cozy mystery, Venus Rising, was published in 2023 by The Wild Rose Press.  As T.D. Walker, she’s the author of the poetry collections Small Waiting Objects (CW Books 2019), Maps of a Hollowed World (Another New Calligraphy 2020), and Doubt & Circuitry (Southern Arizona Press 2023).  When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, trying to find far-away stations on her shortwave radios, making poetry programs, or enjoying tea and scones with her family.  Find out more at her website: 

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