Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Fear Factor

I’ve been having a lot of email conversations with writer friends. Some are published, some have yet to finish writing a novel. Several, like me, have an agent and are on submission. One thing we have in common, regardless of where we are on our journey as authors: we all have major fears.

Published author is worried that her new novel won’t sell, that her recent release won’t sell through, that she’s spending too much time or not enough time on marketing, that her revisions won’t meet the editor’s expectations, that she might never be published again...

Agented author is scared that her book will never get picked up by a publishing house, her agent will drop her as a result, and nothing she writes will ever be as good as the novel she got signed for, and that wasn’t even good enough to get published…

Unagented author is depressed because she has put in years working on something that may never see life beyond her laptop, that her writing will never measure up, and no matter how hard she works, she may never be lucky enough to even snag an agent...

Any of those sound familiar?

It used to surprise me to hear agented authors say they were scared. As an unagented writer looking up to them, I thought they had it made. They had someone who believed in them enough to sign them on and sub their book. What did they have to worry about?

And then I got an agent. And I realized that wonderful as it is to have someone on your side, it doesn’t quiet that snarky little voice that keeps trying to remind me that I’m not good enough, that one day soon I’ll be found out, that I may as well give up now.

We writers tend to be a bit on the neurotic side to begin with. (Yes, I’m talking to you. And you.) But we can’t let those fears get the better of us. Every step of the way there’ll be things that scare us, things that threaten to overwhelm us. We’re bigger than that. And the friendships we’ve forged through this amazing blogging community will see us through no matter where this writing journey takes us.

What’s your biggest fear?

Stare it down. TAKE it down.

You can do it. You’ve got a journey to make.

15 comments:

Kristan said...

Funny, b/c just yesterday I blogged about my fears.

I don't know if it's comforting or not to know that they won't go away, they'll just evolve... :P

Well, I still look forward to finding out firsthand!

JEM said...

Well said! My fear is that my subject matters are significant enough to warrant critical acclaim. Stupid, I know, but there it is.

Tere Kirkland said...

Definitely right now my biggest fear is that my agent will decide to drop me if we can't sell my first novel. But that doesn't keep me from writing the stories that won't stay in my head.

Great post, Sherrie! I always thought being agented meant it was only a matter of time before publishers started throwing book deals at me. Um. They haven't yet... :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Ah, yes! You have pegged those three different kind of fears quite well. I think I've been in all 3 of those places at one time or another.

And clearly, it IS because we are a neurotic bunch with imaginations too big to contain. It's one thing to spend your time imagining characters and worlds and adventures.

It's another thing to spend your time imagining your own doom. LOL.

Laura Pauling said...

I've realized that sometimes the pressure is harder once you get an agent or have a book coming out. B/c the proof is in the pudding to be cliche. That is a saying, isn't it? :)

Krispy said...

Thanks for putting things in perspective and for the pep talk. Fear is something I struggle with every day.

Rosi said...

What Krispy said.

Lisa R. said...

Ditto, ditto and ditto! :-)

I think we all share many of the same feelings! It's so good to know we are never alone.

:) Lisa

MG Higgins said...

Fear is amazing, isn't it? It's always with us. I wish I could just let it go and enjoy the ride.

Tina Moss said...

Oh so true. My biggest fear is that my writing will never measure up to the story. It sometimes feel like I'm not writing the story, but discovering it and I feel as if I'll let "the story" down.

kathrynjankowski said...

Great post, Sherrie!

I love what Joseph Campbell said: "The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

Such a sad but true post. I love what you said about the friendships we've made. What a great support system--no matter what stage of the process we're in.

Sarah Laurenson said...

The whole industry is metamorphasing beyond belief and by the time I get there, I will have chosen the wrong path. *sigh*

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Yes, yes, and yes. The fear just seems a constant (even though everything else is changing). I think we writers are more susceptible to it than other paths? Avocations? Jobs? It's hard to even describe what to call this artistry/calling we're engaged in.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I keep waiting for that moment when things will feel easy. So, you know, when you hit it, let me know? I'd like to know when I can stop stressing.

Ha!

Seriously, even though circumstances do change, the fears continue to come at you. Insecurities just switch from one to another, and always, there's the sense that you're not sure what the heck you're doing.

P.S. Today was a good day for this post. So thanks, chickie.

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