I have yet to work up the courage to submit any of my work to any paying or nonpaying outlet. I refuse to acknowledge why, or rather I refuse to say why out loud where anyone will actually hear me. It’s a combination of things that vary from making complete sense to sounding absolutely insane. It’s usually because, like all things that go into my writing, I have an overactive imagination tempered with a little too much feet on the ground and not enough head in the clouds. Or maybe it’s reverse – either way it always culminates in a lot of fear.
I’m afraid of failure. That one makes sense, we all get fear of failure. It’s harder to fail something if we don’t put it out there. No judgement can dash our hopes against cliffs of despair – as I said before, I have lots of imagination. I’m not just afraid of not doing well, because as we’ve heard time and time again, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I’m afraid of failure because what if the failure is just the reality my overactive imagination refuses to accept? That’s a chilling thought that stops me in my tracks on many a dark and stormy night (for the record, also on a number of sunny afternoons).
Here’s the kicker though, I’m afraid of success too. What is the expectation if I succeed? Not just from others, but from myself. Would I keep going at the same pace as always, happy with success or would I let it become the thing that takes over, setting my pace faster, pushing myself harder, missing out on more than I already do. It’s a terrifying thought, and once out of the inner sanctum difficult to put back.
I’m afraid of how I will handle rejection. You see quotes from authors that mention a writer needs thick skin to handle to rejection – is my skin thick enough? Am I too sensitive to survive the onslaught of reviewers that won’t appreciate the tiny, unable to walk, little idea that I nurtured into a full blown, very mature idea and let go free into the world to make its own mark on society?
Then there are the realistic fears that halt me in my tracks. There never seems to be enough hours in the day when you have children, a full time job and school full time, plus a plethora of additional activities that if I’m being honest I signed up to do so I could avoid thinking about all of these fears, filling my plate so much that I couldn’t see the bottom where I have to face the facts. Shifting my focus from my fears about my writing instead to my fear of where will the money to pay the mortgage come from if I quit my job and focus on writing full time? The throat closing fear of disappointing the kids if I quit the 9-to-5 and take that risk only to place my tail between my legs and go back, hoping there’s a job to go back to.
Then I read the news. Or I see stories about brave young boys fighting for their lives against terrifying cancer. I see people I am close to dealing with the inescapable terror of what they can not control. And those fears help me put mine into perspective.
I won’t know whether I will fail or succeed, or how I handle rejection if I don’t try. If you find yourself in the same frozen state, paralyzed by your own fears, know that you aren’t alone. And let’s see about taking that first step to conquering our fears.
After all, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.