Thursday, May 03, 2007
"All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears--of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words "Some Assenbly Required." Dave Barry

Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind and according to H.P. Lovecraft "the oldest and stongest kind of fear is the unknown." Fear also keeps us safe. That fear of spiders and snakes keeps us from getting bitten. But fear can keep us from living life to the fullest.

As writers we have our own special set of fears. First we are afraid to send out our writing so we polish until we get to the point we are changing things which have been changed several times. We aren't making things better, we are just picking nits. Putting off the next step.

Once we finally do send our writing we count the days dreading the "rejection" letter. When I was a Long Ridge student I had do my assignments by snail mail. I remember getting the first one back. I sat on the bed for over an hour with the envelope afraid to open it. What if she didn't like it? What if I didn't have the ability to be a writer? Would she tell me to give it up and get a real job? Oh the thoughts that ran through my mind. When I finally gathered the courage to open her reply I found she enjoyed the piece, that she thought it publishable with some tweaks and she would be waiting for my next assignment. Turns out I'd wasted over an hour when I could have been celebrating good news.

And then there is the fear of failure. As the deadline for my next assignment loomed ever nearer, the doubts gathered like dark storm clouds. What if the first time was just a fluke and I couldn't write another decent sentence? Again, more unfounded fear.

One fear we don't often think of is fear of success. With success comes that unknown. If we have a novel accepted, the whole process is an unknown fear-producing event. A writer friend of mine has had a major publisher ask for a partial of her novel. However instead of being excited she has the queasy stomach, shaky hands and can't focus on the good stuff.

We all have fears but we can't let our fear rule our lives. We can't let fear rob us of the "good stuff".

Louis E. Boone says it well. "Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have."

"Come to the edge," he said.
They said, "We are afraid."
"Come to the edge," he said.
They came.
He pushed them...
And they flew.*

This week, dare to fly!


* by Peter McWilliams


Sue said...

This is so true, and you put it into words so well! I'm a Long Ridge student who still wonders about the comments before opening a reply envelope. But, as you said, it's never as bad as we think, and it's often the opposite.

Thanks for your thoughts, and I love Dave Barry's comment!

Laura said...

Hi Jean,

Loved your post and it’s true too. I still hold my breath when I’m opening those assignments or now that I'm submitting those scary publisher envelopes!

Thanks reminding me not to allow fear to stop me.

Anonymous said...

Great post Speck...err, um I mean Jean.

Yep, I'm a scardy cat, but my fears fall apart in the face my determination. This makes it possible for me to tell my fears, "be afwaid...be vewy, vewy afwaid."



Cheryl said...

"Every word of what you say is true. Okay, I'll be somebody new." Just a quote from one of my favorite kiddie books.

Fear does rear its ugly head in so many ways for us writers. Thankfully, I can be somebody new and kid myself into believing that I'm not afraid so that I can work on getting published.

Great post Jean.


Angela Mackintosh said...

What an encouraging post Jean!

Sometimes I wonder which is scarier: my fear of spiders or fear of rejection? With spiders, I know what to expect, but with submissions comes that unknown territory, which can be even more scary. I always think of a quote from Anais Nin's diary that empowers me to take on the world: "A big enough artist, I say; can eat anything, must eat everything and then alchemize it. Only a feeble artist is afraid of expansion."

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