Thursday, April 7, 2011

That Nasty, Four Letter Word Beginning with F

I'm talking about FEAR, of course.  (What, you thought I was talking about that other four letter word beginning with F?  Pshaw, that word's not nasty, it's about having fun.)

Fear is not about having fun.  Fear is the evil emotion that twists around in our bellies like a snake and hisses in our ears, "Why do you even bother?  Nothing you write will ever be good enough.  That last page was garbage.  You're garbage."

I used to try to run away from my fears.  Or, stuff them down them with:  frantic activity, food, alcohol, bad habits, or unhealthy relationships where I felt needed.
    But that never made the fear go away - just made me feel like crap, and that hissing voice would slither back into my brain all too soon.

    I'm learning that if I acknowledge my fears exist, if I face them and unpack what they are all about, if I just breathe and even get into bed with them... they're not as big and scary as they seemed in the beginning. 

    Some of my fears about writing are about failure:
    • People might not like it. Some people won't, but some people probably will.
    • No one will want to publish it.  Eventually, somebody will, or I can always self-publish.
    • I'll get scathing reviews.  Which will put me in very good company.  Some of the best books ever written got scathing reviews or lukewarm coverage when first released.  And, if my writing is that bad, I can take what I hear in the review and make the next book better.
    • My friends will all feel sorry for me.  Not for long - they're got their own lives and worries.
    • Even if I get published, no one will buy my books.  But at least I'll be able to say I got my book published.
    • My agent will drop me and I'll never find another one.  If my agent drops me, I will find another one eventually.
    • I'll go nuclear like a certain self-pubbed author.  How I behave is totally under my control.  I can weep, punch a pillow, kick the cat (I wouldn't, really) but I can show class in the public arena.
    from Classical Values - not as big and scary as he first seemed.
    Here's another piece of the fear puzzle: If we don't try... we can't fail.  Letting fear keep us from attempting something, lets us preserve the fantasy that we would do it, could do perfectly, if we really wanted to.  (Whereas if we actually do it, and are not perfect - oh, the shame, the shame!)

    Carolyn Rubenstein at A Beautiful Ripple Effect brings up an interesting idea - that we may be as afraid of the scary good as the scary bad.  As does Dumb Little Man.

    My writing fears about success:
    • I'll be successful enough that they'll want me to keep writing, but not enough to quit my day job.  And this would be different from my current life how, exactly?
    • My friends and family will all be jealous.  Not the ones worth keeping.
    • I'll get stalked by some loony fan.  I could get stalked anyway; been there, done that.
    • I'll be so famous and successful I won't be able to go to the grocery store anymore.  Oh, please!  Like any author has the same kind of paparazzi or fan buzz of a Britney Spears.
    • I'll make a lot of money quickly and then blow it all and end up on some celebrity has-been reality show.  I know too much about being frugal and too many smart accountants to be that silly.

    Wow.  I have had some really dumb fears, when I look clearly at them, and they are shrinking down to be as harmless and non-threatening as that little brown snake.  Who's actually kind of cute, IMO.

    How about you - what fears have you confronted?
    What's the worst thing that voice hisses in your ear?