On being very, very afraid…

Fear is like a cancer.

There can be one big, debilitating fear that cripples you or I to the point of inaction. As long as that inaction remains in effect though, the fear will spread and become other forms and types of all-consuming fear. A fear of failure can morph into an overwhelming anxiety of rejection. Very seldom do we hear of an agoraphobic sufferer who just woke up one day and could no longer leave their home. No. It’s slowly consuming.

As a writer I once feared failure. I once feared writing a book and attempting publication with query letters not leading to anything positive. This was such a consuming fear that when I finished my first book 9 years ago, I set the ridiculous goal of mailing out 25 query letters. I mailed off my 25 queries and of those queries I got 12 rejection “letters” back. (I say “letters” because if you’ve never had the privilege of receiving one, they are the most impersonal wastes of postage out there. over half of them were just strips of paper with a sentence typed out that said “not interested.” I have to believe when the very system began, it had a bigger point than that, but I digress…)

In regards to my first book, it was written from a passionate place. While fiction, it was inspired by the lives of the women in my family and when my grandmother passed away in 2006 and I made the personal decision that I’d rather keep that work tucked away and private, within our family, for now anyway. It worked out better, and I am grateful for the hindsight.

I no longer fear rejection, in that way. I personally believe the publishing industry is a broken and biased system so this is partly why… but the other reason is because, technically speaking I “failed” that ridiculous self-imposed goal, and I survived intact. I’m still alive and no parts of the world seemed to be disastrously affected by my failure so I realized it wasn’t a big deal.

Fear never really goes away though, like I said, Fear is like a cancer. Even once I’ve conquered one, I still need to keep myself in check because there are others. New ones that will creep up and my writing is where I’ll be incredibly vulnerable because this is my life’s work.

I finished my second book awhile ago. I say finished because it is written, from beginning to end. It also needs some revisions and I just can’t bring myself to look at it, so I’ve put it away for a while to work on another project. It is fiction, and a very personal story for me. I fear that it won’t be loved. I fear that it will be mediocre. Sometimes I get caught up in the harsh criticisms and judgements that people hide behind, online, and it terrifies me to put my work in their hands… And so I remember wise words from long ago that urge me to allow fear to motivate me, and I think “I can do that…” And I imagine fear motivating me to make this project that much better, but I also realistically embrace the inevitable- that it will happen and I have to be ok with that and not care.

As a young girl I knew my life was to write stories and words that would touch or inspire other people. As I grew, I knew that I had stories in my heart that others could relate to, and that could help them with their own hurts. This means everything to be but this hurdle between the place of fear and the having leaped- I just do not know how to get there…

So I worry the fear-cancer spreads. And sometimes I just look away and ignore my projects. And most days I dream of a boldness that has to exist somewhere deep inside of me, I just need to figure out how to harness and mount it so that I won’t be so afraid anymore…

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7 thoughts on “On being very, very afraid…

  1. I’m here in this spot with so many things in my life. I read this and completely understood what you were saying about the fear and then just shutting down. Thank you for sharing this.
    P.S. Your header is absolutely gorgeous.

  2. Hi MIsty! I love the analogy of fear being like a cancer! Once it takes hold it spreads and grows if nothing is done about it. You, my friend, are brave and your words will touch someone or many someones if only you set them free. I will be praying for you as you learn to share your writing so others can be encouraged by your story. Blessings!

  3. Oh, girl, do I feel this! Fear spreads, its icy tentacles wrapping around everything.

    I, too, wrote a novel. And it was rejected. And that sucked and I haven’t written a book since. It’s so scary to put yourself out there. But you know what? I like your words. I think you’ve got what it takes. So I hope to read one of your books one day!

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