Friday, August 20, 2010

Fear - Revisited...

The majority of this post originated here on The Prairies on May 15th of last year. Because of many issues I'm facing in my writing journey, I decided to 'replay' this one.


Everyone has a talent. What is rare is the courage to nurture it in solitude and to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads. Erica Jong

Most people are reluctant to share what they fear most, down right ‘afraid’ to verbalize the darkness that lurks behind a dream most friends and family believe is unattainable. I decided that if I wanted people to comment, then I had better step up to the plate. So here’s what I fear most –

I will never finish another manuscript.

Craft issues are bogging me down - creating havoc with my story telling. The daunting task of endless re-writes makes me tired just thinking about them. The hours of research to make sure everything I write is accurate so that no one will accuse me of getting my facts wrong. The wild plots I dream up fizzle when I play them out in my mind and realize they are not believable. And the rejections I’ve received for Lady Bells hurt, so why would I subject myself to that again?

This fear haunts me every time I boot up my laptop. When I pick up a pen to jot down a note or two (as Muse whispers in my ear), this fear mocks me. Discussions about works-in-progress make me cringe with the knowledge that this fear intends to keep them forever works-in-progress. This fear threatens to end my dream of novel writing.

Here are some suggestions to help conquer the fear.

Name Your Fear – One of the best ways to move on. Well, I’ve named it. It’s still here!

Do Not Give Fear Power – Henry Ford is credited for the quote “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”

One Step at a Time – I’ll never finish a manuscript if I don’t write. One sentence leads to one paragraph that leads to one page…

Be Bold – Become the antithesis of your fear. Create a world where your fear does not exist. Act as if that manuscript (or two, or three) are finished. A self-fulfilling prophecy if you will.

Create a Support Network – Writers are a wonderful group of supportive, enthusiastic, generous people. I am lucky to have that support network in place. And now that I’ve named my fear, I know those friends will help me overcome it. The same way they accept and cheer me on toward my goal of publication.

So, People of Blogland, what do you fear? How does that fear stand in the way of your short-term and long-term goals? Do you think that fear holds us back or is it merely an excuse we pull out when our dreams and aspirations seem to be insurmountable? And for those that answered the questions a year ago - what do you fear now? Are they the same fears as before, or have are they different (click here to see what your were afraid of then)?



Joanne Brothwell said...

Right now I fear opening my email. After three days of solid querying, peppering the universe with my newest query letter, the rejections are flooding in. I was buoyed by one request, but now the rejections are bogging me (and my inbox)down.

Janet said...

Oh, Joanne! I'm sorry - and I know this will mean nothing when rejections are bogging you down, but a request is a request. Keep that excitement in mind as you open those e-mails. Oh, and also keep saying "What do they know?"!

Jennie Marsland said...

Janet, this is exactly the kind of fear that kept getting in the way as I wrote Heart. All those evil voices whispering things like 'I can't make it good enough.' 'The first book wasn't good enough either.''It exhausts me to even think about revisions.' And, the most evil of all, 'Why am I doing this to myself?'

Well, I do it because it seems I have no choice. Not writing would be more painful than writing. I keep telling myself that whenever my dream of making a living writing seems unattainable, which I'll admit is most of the time. If we let fear master us, all we're left with is regret.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Janet, I'm afraid of not submitting my best manuscript, which is probably why I still have it. :(

Thanks for the re-posting. It's just as relevant today as it was then.

Anita Mae.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
I went back to see what I wrote last year. I was afraid I'd never write a novel that would be picked up by a major publisher. That's still a big fear and concern. Not to diss any of my publishers because they're all great, but I'm not exactly rolling in the dough. I'd really like to quit my day job and write full time. I know I told you I had made the decision to quit the day jobs in the next few months, but now I'm not so sure. I'm afraid that my writing will remain a hobby, not in time spent on it, not in committment towards it, but in the income I can make from it.

But what Jennie said is very true. If I quit, all I'll be left with is regret, and that's not an option.


Silver James said...

I went back to check what I wrote. I still fear "being a 'fraud.'" I did sell a second book. And a novella. People other than friends and family bought the first one and seem to like.

I have new fears. Like Jana, I want to sell to a "big house." I want an agent who will handle the querying for me so I can write and revise. Like Joanne, I've gotten a few rejections lately, but I still have a full MS hanging out there and a couple of requests. I'll end with the same sentiment I did a year ago. That hasn't changed at all:

We writers are an emotional lot, I fear. Right brain/left brain, imagination/reality, creativity/productivity... All we can do is keep putting one word after the other and hope at the end of the day we've written a coherent sentence. And speaking of... *cracks whip* Hayley, finish the MS! I want to read it. And Janet, as soon as life calms down, get back to it! You guys (and everyone else who hangs out here) are much too talented NOT to make it, if that's your dream. But until you finish, polish, and submit, your dream is going to languish. (So says she who whistles in the dark...)

Hayley E. Lavik said...

It's really interesting revisiting this and looking back at old responses. Especially considering you posted this right before the spring retreat last year, when I finally tackled the concern of idling I'd been worrying about.

Now I would say I'm afraid of not meeting this deadline, but that's not really true. I feel very confident I'll do it. It's more whether I'll be prepared for everything that needs to be done hand in hand with those revisions (like pitching, heh). Also I don't have the chance with this schedule to set the MS aside for a while and come back with fresh eyes. I'm worried I'll give it my best and send it out, but I won't see the glaring errors, it it'll smack of someone who isn't ready, and I'll blow my chance with some good agents right away.

As for dealing with that, there's simply no reason to focus on that right now, and when I get into that final stretch, I just have to do my best with it. What happens after that is out of my hands, and I can deal with the results when they come.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Oh good lord, phantom whip-cracking!

I'm finishing, Silver, I'm finishing! :D

Ask me again at the end of October.

Janet said...

If we let fear master us, all we're left with is regret.

You are a very wise woman, Jennie! And I plan on quoting you many times over!

It always amazes me the fear and self-doubt that exists amongst writers (artists, really). Pubbed or unpubbed, it seems we all struggle. Fighting through is the only way to go.

Janet said...

Funny how fear is relevant at any time, Anita. As I said to Jennie - writers, artists, seem to struggle more than say a business man or a profesional woman. I think the nature of the beast - the lack of benchmarks (raises, job performance) makes us more open to self-doubt. That and the fact we don't get paid - and even then, not very much.

I admire your determination. You go, girl!!

Janet said...

I'm afraid that my writing will remain a hobby, not in time spent on it, not in committment towards it, but in the income I can make from it.

A very legitimate fear, Jana. I believe, though, that of anyone who can make it work, you can. Your determination, I admire. Your focus on goals - both long term and short - I only wish I possessed. It's a very scary thing, quitting something that pays regularly for something that may or may not. I don't envy you that decision, but offer the suggsestion of asking for a leave. Would your place of business do that? Then you'd have the knowledge that if things didn't work out (which I'm sure they will), you have a job waiting for you!

Good luck with your decision. And keep on writing and submitting - you'll get there, I know it :)

Janet said...

I'm so glad you reposted that sentiment, Silver. We are an emotional lot - but thank goodness there's a bunch of us together in the emotional roller coaster!

And you are hardly a fraud! Terrible about the rejections, but you are well on your way, girlfriend! Can't wait to help you celebrate the acceptance - 'cause not only do we commisserate with each other, but we also celebrate with each other!

Janet said...

I have all the confidence in the world in you and your ability, Hayley. You have such focus and drive - agents and editors would be crazy to pass you by! I fully expect to hear wonderful news from when you get back from Surrey.

And, if I could be so bold to suggest, why not split your agent hunt into three? Split those top agents among the three groups - and then send to the first group gaging responses and tweaking if necessary. That way, you're not 'burning your bridges' - and if the response is great (which I know it will be), send to all top agents on your list and wait for the auction to begin!!

connie said...

My fears are that there isn't much point in revising, finishing querying because 1) we all know the odds of being published and 2)I am too old.

And yet, I want to create that character readers wish they knew. Just one would satisfy me. Mary Balogh does it well. Her's are good people, compassionate, strong, reasonable and their love stories are the kind we can believe in and take part in without thinking the characters couldn't really exist.

Does saying her romances are dreams, not fantasies explain it better? That is what I wish I could write - a dream.

I want to write but I feel as though Fear has its arms around my waist, pulling me back

Janet said...

I want to write but I feel as though Fear has its arms around my waist, pulling me back.

A perfect way to put it, Connie! And wouldn't we all love to write like Mary Balogh - but we need to write like ourselves and tell our stories (even if it's just for our friends and family - at least this is what I'm trying to convince myself of these days :)