If you’ve been here before, you may have read that I belong to a writers’ group, known as The Penheads. We’re five in all, and we’ve been together through many life changes. After all, 23 years brings many, many life changes.
As writers, we’ve come a long way. We’ve improved, changed, evolved. But we’re all in different places in our writing careers. One is gearing up to release her first novel very soon. What’s holding her back, by her own admission, is fear.
I’m very familiar with that feeling, as is one of my other fellow Penheads. And we’ve talked about this before. It’s a fear that intellectually is irrational. It makes no sense. But it’s a common fear that’s well known to many. Actually, it’s a double-sided fear. It’s the fear of failure AND success.
Many of us fear failure, and that’s understandable. It’s the fear of success that’s a little more complex, I think.
Success means living up to a promise and we need to believe that we earned that success and really delivered on that promise. Suppose we get a big following or hit the best seller list, only to eventually be called out as a sucky writer?
Success means having to follow up with more of what you’ve done. Suppose your fabulous novel was just a fluke and you can never write another decent word?
Success means reaping the rewards. Maybe it’s money, but maybe it’s just lots and lots of fans. And when you have money, people tend to come out of the woodwork. And with lots and lots fans, comes obsessions, proposals, and stalkers. OR maybe you’re just not comfortable with the idea of being on the receiving end of all that attention.
Success means people wanting a piece of you. Oh, my god. Interviews, readings, book signings, photos, Tweeting about what you bought at the grocery store because inquiring minds want to know!
But success also means having to take that first step and put your baby out there. And when you do that, you put your delicate, sensitive heart and fragile soul on the line. And you have the potential to get hurt. And abused.
It hurts. It sucks. But you can’t let that hold you back. We’re writers and that means that we want to share out words with the world. Some writers will argue that and say that they write for themselves, and if that’s tru for you, then just do what you need to do to feed your soul. But I find that in most cases, it’s fear and a sense of self-imposed humiliation that holds people back.
And to that I say, to hell with it. Don’t hold back on your dreams because this is the only chance you get. Write what you want to write, do the best to make it the best you can make it, and get it out there. Don’t let fear stop you. You’ll regret it. I guarantee.
Once your baby is out in the world, you’ll get over it. Really.