I often meet authors I refer to as “Joan of Arcs.” They are authors who’ve already written or plan to write a book, but are certain when they release it, they will be tarred and feathered, drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, and maybe even stoned to the death, due to the radical, life-changing, culture-modifying ideas they want to share. And even though they believe these ideas with all their heart and likely have enjoyed self-betterment from them, they have such a strong fear of the persecution they may face, they may hold back from publishing and/or promoting their book.
One of my clients, “Alise,” fits this example perfectly because what she has written is so revealing of her life’s misgivings that she knows there will be fallout for her transparency. Even though she understands that her authenticity and willingness to come clean will be the very thing that attracts thousands —if not millions—of readers to her book, she is not sure she is ready to face that.
These are not imaginations, mind you. Joan of Arcs (or Joe of Arc, if you’re a guy), are living within a sphere of influence where those around them believe differently. They are not making up the fact that they will have to come clean about their beliefs and, at last, reveal their shrouded true selves by putting this work forward. They truly do not know how they will be received in their new guise by family and others they love and care about.
Prior to releasing my book, Transformational Healing: Five Surprisingly Simple Keys Designed to Redirect Your Life Toward Wellness, Purpose, and Prosperity, I too suffered from Joan of Arc fears. Yet here I am today, no worse for the wear, not stoned, not burned at the stake, not excommunicated from anything. In fact, when I came clean about a lot of my experiences and beliefs, I received a surprising amount of support from my family.
While it’s true that some authors will face repercussions from what they write, and often from the people they least expect, the fears of a Joan of Arc writer can be reconciled and allayed.
• Joan of Arcs are often the gate openers to new beliefs, social injustices, and mind-opening theories. Think John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Emerson, or Thoreau, or think of modern writers and activists such as Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and more. These key individuals brought forward ideas important to our culture and world today. Tomorrow’s Joan of Arcs will do this too.
• Carolyn Myss writes about the power of our “tribe” and how that dynamic can highly influence our actions. Joan of Arcs can fall prey to the worry that they will be ostracized from their tribe, or punished for thinking differently from them. They often find themselves in a position where—whether real or perceived— they must choose between one or the other, a decision they find difficult to make.
• Joan of Arcs can become two-faced, wearing the mask of their true selves when in safe havens, then reverting to a shroud of what others believe they are while taking part in gatherings. This often occurs within the family unit, even between spouses, where the risk of separation carries a powerful emotional penalty.
While no one can protect “Joan” (or Joe) from the consequences of stepping out, speaking up, and standing up for their beliefs, being true to self is often the hinge pin of all else coming to fruition that this archetype desires. Fulfilling one's purpose and heart’s calling often hinges upon leaping the hurdles set forth by his or her ancestry, and taking a different road may be the only way. This is a decision only "Joan" can make.
Nevertheless, there are strategies that can be utilized to bring understanding and assistance to the Joan of Arc writer. These require a private session dedicated to his or her particular situation and desired outcome. (Contact me for more information in this regard.)