Fear is good. It keeps you safe. Fear keeps you from going down the wrong street, trusting the wrong people, taking risks that are bad for you. Fear that runs amok and takes control of your life, though, keeps you from enjoying some of the most productive and marvelous moments possible: working on your chosen craft and enjoying the fruits of your work.
Witness my inability to contribute to the Mermaid short story effort this Fall. I was silent, unable to compose even a scrap of an idea for that wonderful festival of creativity. Yes, I was trapped in a web of fear, a crawling, deadly hive of poisonous fear that kept my fingers frozen for weeks that stretched into months. Why?
Because I was silly enough to trigger a word count on my Lake Effect manuscript instead of just keeping on with the writing. Argh! I wasn’t going to finish by my self-imposed deadline! I’d failed! Again! At which point I took refuge in endless edits of material that I wrote last year, instead of taking time to reflect and re-evaluate, to mourn and then do the brave thing: work forward.
Even now, I get distracted by the details of my story. Is the father alive or dead? If I use the alternate opening for Chapter One, will it be possible to achieve the light-hearted style I’d embraced in the original? Is there a sister or not? And should Desmond and Nicole break up at the very start of the book, or should I shift that scene back to Chapter Ten (which remains suspiciously blank)? Do I need to take a break and do my makeup? Isn’t there laundry that has to be put on? How tidy does the house need to be before the plumber arrives? And, oh yeah, how about registering for the RWA Anaheim conference?
You know what that is? Uh huh. It’s my fear, taking it out in the sneaky distractions of every day life. I’m not going to see anyone today, I have clean clothes, the plumber already called and said he can’t be here until next week, and Anaheim isn’t sold out. Stop making excuses, girl, and get back to work!
Do you make excuses? I do. Let’s share and see if we can unsnarl the distractions and excuses we make to justify not getting our work done.
17 thoughts on “Fear”
Do I make excuses??? Well, I almost threw out my entire ms because I need to make some big revisions. My rationale? Just start from scratch on something completely different. How lazy am I!
You aren’t lazy! What you are doing is finding a way to avoid doing the hard work on the present manuscript. Which is exactly what I did in December. Once I realized that story didin’t have a lot of steam behind it, I cycled back to the WIP and started on it again.
My own champion excuse is the endless rewrite loop.
Okay, Ms. Susan Mermaid – you got me! By your last paragraph I started freaking out about RWA Nationals being sold out and went and purchased my ticket (lol)!
Seriously, it’s as if you are a little person sitting on my shoulder. I do the SAME EXACT THING!!! I am in deep revisions (okay polishing, if I want to be kind) and I swear I have been rethinking, second guessing every choice, every scene, every word. I actually got abit better in November though. Michael Hauge (WRW November workshop) helped me lose some fear. The other help has been the Waterworld Mermaids! All of you help keep me focused by how wonderfully you share your ups and downs, inspirations and good news. And once again, you have provided me with another timely Mermaid post that makes me feel better about my writing (don’t know if that helps you, but I’m happy:)! Great post.
Ah shucks, Robin, I hadn’t registered yet either! But I blasted over to the RWA site right after reading your comment and signed up. Whew! Now I can get back to (folding laundry, sucking water out of wet carpet, unloading dishwasher, eating, decluttering… writing… le sigh).
whoops, I scared you into thinking I was Robin (lol)! but yeah, I hear you…next I’ll start freaking out about the hotel.
Dang it, I’ve got that girl on the brain, reading all the congratulatory notes! Don’t worry, we’re gonna be doing that happy dance before too long.
Aaahh . . . my plan for world domination has already begun. Everyone thinks of me all the time! *evil laugh and much hand wringing*
I’m registered too!
And, as far as fear . . . . all the time. But, to paraphrase my very wise Granny: “Get out on the dance floor until the judge tells you to leave. Don’t take yourself out of the game.”
I can’t even use the Nationals as an excuse! Other than writing blog articles, which require nearly a surgical procedure to be extracted from my brain, I have not written a word in months. When the creative well is dry, girl, it’s dry. Just have to wait for the rain, and the rain always comes. In the meantime, I try not to be too hard on myself. Chocolate … I need chocolate … lots of chocolate.
Ha! Gerri, we have lots and LOTS of virtual chocolate here in the Mermaid Lagoon. Come by often and read a blog, you might be inspired with a monsoon of ideas! In the meantime, trust yourself to catch those raindrops when they come, friend. They certainly will.❤
Fear you say? Oh boy I fear every day. I fear that I will never write another book as good as the next one. I fear that the next revision letter coming from my editor is going to be the kiss of death. I fear the blank screen. I’m afraid when my book does well, and when it doesn’t. It really doesn’t matter one way or the other. I am always afraid.
But somehow I manage to write in spite of it. I truly think that to be an author you have to have enormous courage every day. And that’s way different from being fearless. I do wish that I could silence that little doubter (coward) who lives in my brain. But she seems to be there for the duration. So I have to face her down, just about every time I plant my butt in a chair and put my fingers on the keyboard.
It’s a terrible way to live. But, then, I love to write. And when I remind myself of that, I’m left wondering if all writers are just masochists. 🙂
Hope, thank you so much for such a sensitive and inspiring response. I have the problem of cowering in front of my own self-assigned task each time I let Fear win. The best days are when I can settle down and mutter, “Okay, Bitch. What are you gonna try today?”
Today isn’t one of those days. Not so far. Wish I had something else to throw at it. I’m thrilled, though, that you keep mastering *your* fear. I’m always thrilled to see another Hope Ramsay on the shelf. Thanks!
Hope, I’m pretty sure you’re right…We ARE all masochists!
Everyone else… I fear every freaking day. I fear success. I fear failure. I fear the blank page. I fear the laundry. I mean really, where the heck are those laundry/ vacuuming/ dish cleaning/ bathroom cleaning fairies that I pray for every day??? Last year I had some bad times and I kept telling myself I would get more writing accomplished if all of the household stuff would magically get done. But it hasn’t, and I STILL haven’t finished revisions (needed a lot of work) on the historical I’m working on. Instead I would shift my focus to other projects. So this year I am striving to set aside what is not working for me, fear is a big part of that, and setting realistic daily/ weekly goals to get forward momentum. So far it’s working. Thanks for the reminder to get my butt in gear Susan!
Dana, we are kindred spirits, indeed! First, I cleaned up the mess from yesterday’s broken pipe, promising myself I would write my blog post immediately after. Then I bundled the towels into the washer, and reorganized the paint cans in the well closet. I ate, made phone calls, and moved the towels into the dryer. I blotted up the water in the study closet. All the while, I promised myself I would write. When did I do it? This morning, at the absolute last minute. Sheesh! How can that be called discpline? I’m as bad as any ninth grader at my school.
Never fear: we have each other to call us on our failures and keep us accountable. I’m glad you’re keeping to your pledge. I am at least flossing my teeth!
My whole life, I heard the story of my Grandma Grace threatening some neighborhood kid that she’d rip off his arm and beat him with the bloody stump.
She also told me never to let fear keep me from doing the right thing.
She was my favorite.
I can’t be afraid. Grandma wouldn’t be very happy with me.
Awesome post, Fishy Sister Susan.
Thank you, Carlene. Please don’t hesitate to pull this post out again if I start complaining and beat me over the head with it. Sometimes I need a stern talking to!
Fishy kisses to all who posted today, I treasure your feedback.
I’ve had the best excuse NOT to write this week. Was without computer. But, then I annoyed myself by little reminders that writers WRITE! They don’t have to type. Hell, they even managed to get their thoughts across on cave walls, and I make up an excuse as to why I can’t write when I don’t have a computer….
I should be ashamed. Seriously. So, right after I finish this comment, I WILL WRITE. 🙂
Thanks for getting me in gear. Just signed up for Anaheim! 🙂 Wanted to know if I should have WRW Mermaid under my name????
Good thing we have a chance to finalize our name badges before Anaheim, because I am so totally going to change mine to CTRWA WRW Mermaid. We are allowed seventeen characters to a line.
Either that, or Susan Mermaid Andrews? haha!
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