Journal, Writing Discussion

Facing My Writing Fears

Ollin talked about fear of rejection on his blog recently. That got me thinking about what it is that I fear. I can deal with rejection. It still hurts, but that I know how to move on. I know that it’s not always a bad thing, and that it’s not always personal.

So what do I fear?

I’m afraid I will let myself down.

I’m afraid I will let you down.

Every time I post a piece of fiction online I hold my breath and wonder, what if I’ve lost the ability to tell a decent story? Am I just repeating myself? What if I can’t grow any further as a writer?

Even now there’s voice in my brain whispering that I’ll never finish my novel revisions, that the story will sit unfinished, and unpolished, forever.

I’m afraid that I am all potential, but can’t actually execute, that I can get 95% of the way, but can’t make it through that last 5%.

Still, one of the few magics I know is that by putting that fear into words, it starts to lose its power. The unvoiced fear, the unseen ghost in the shadows, can be far more fearsome than the animal standing in front of you in the daylight.

The beast is already starting to lose it’s teeth.

What do you fear?

25 Comments

  1. Hmm, I think I’m a lot like you in this sense. Rejection: no problem; failure: FEAR FEAR FEAR. My beast still has a lot of its teeth, though… I have faith that I will defeat it “in the future,” but “in the future” always seems so far away. :\

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      It does have a lot of teeth… and it’s like walking around in the dark. There are few things to show us whether we’re closer or further from success. It could just be around the corner, or it could be years away, or it could be never. 🙁 Hopefully not never for any of us!!!

  2. My fear: first, as you, that I will never actually finish a novel. I’ve come 2/3 of the way, once, before scrapping it. I’m ready to start again, when time permits. But if I can’t finish that first draft, then I’m all talk and no substance. Meaningless.

    My second fear: that I’m not actually any good. It’s not the rejection, I fear, but what the rejection potentially means. That I don’t have what it takes, that my prose is empty, my style moribund, my characters flat, my plots contrived, and my worlds derivative and uninspired. And that there’s nothing really I can do about it.

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      Both very valid fears. I have no doubt that when you have the time you’ll be able to finish it, and if you want a cheering squad to keep you going, you’ve got it. 🙂

      As for the second fear, yeah I feel that way too sometimes, but the fear keeps you wanting to push further, learn more, and improve, no? It can be a good fuel too.

      1. That’s a true point. So what if I’m not any good… I can get better, right?

        In fact, that’s largely how I try to approach this. Because I believe that I’m pretty good already (notwithstanding the fear that in fact I’m not). But my goal isn’t to be good, but to be great, and I keep working toward that goal.

      1. Now that I’ve made you grin I can give you my honest fears. For a long time I had a fear of failure. It pre-emptively stopped me from writing stories I thought I might screw up, and put me in a Submissions hole for three years where I didn’t send anything out for fear of my stuff being bad. I overcame those things – some people even call me prolific now, and on this day I have 25 short story submissions floating around various contests and magazines.

        At this stage what I fear is that my whole perception of talent and career are false. That anything good I’ve produced was luck that will run out or already has, and that I cannot succeed because I’m incapable of producing quality work and/or pursuing the publication of it competently. That I am a one-man hoax played on himself.

        In other words, my fears are about exactly where I am – just as they were when I wasn’t submitting much, or when I wasn’t writing much. If I have a successful novel, I expect I’ll fear I’m a one-hit wonder. A trilogy? That it was my only worthwhile work.

      2. I don’t think that insecurity ever really goes away. Sometimes success… even if it is backed up by a lot of hard work, sweat, and tears, still feels random – as if it’s just luck – but that doesn’t mean it really is. It probably isn’t.

        And sometimes we do take steps backwards, but they’re probably not as far as we think.

  3. Congar eels. They scare me more than anything. But seriously, you are not alone in your fears – a think a degree of cockiness and bravado are an important key to remaining sane as an author. Anyone that doesn’t appreciate your work is a fool – a fool I say! At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

    1. I had to google congar eels… holy cow those are scary fish!

      There’s that fine balance between enough confidence to keep you going despite rejection, and enough humility to accept constructive criticism. 😉

      1. T.S. Bazelli Author

        Oooh I hope you’re all busy because you’ve heard back from a few agents! 😉

        I’ve also got some secrets I can’t tell here quite yet ~whispers~ but oh I’m also very busy right now too.

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      Ahh but that fear is why you keep trying 🙂

      Congrats on the move!!! If you need any help taking stuff over to the new place just let me know.

      P.S. I have an idea for an illustrated book if you’re interested in drawing/papercuts. I’ll let you know more about it next time I see you.

  4. Well you already know my fears. 😉

    But it looks like you have the right idea. Shine a lot on it! Be aware of it, and try to do the opposite, nurture all those certainties that you have about you and your writing and about life. That usually knocks doubt and fear right out of the park.

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