Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Bris-Vegas

This is a topic I wasn't sure about writing, but I promised to let you all in on my journey toward publishing and, unfortunately, what I'm going to talk about is a big part of those virtual adventures. I'm talking about the biggies: Fear and Self-Doubt.

A week ago, I was in a dark place--writing wise at least. I was looking at the 15,000 words I've written on my 2nd companion book and hated them. Every. Single. One. I wanted nothing more than to push delete and wipe the lot from my computer. In reality, they're not bad words. The need some editing, a bit of polishing and possibly a little more editing again, but they are covering the parts of the story they need to. So why did I hate them so much? Why did I feel such a desire to scrap the lot?

To examine that, we have to go back a bit I guess. I've always been a bit of a sensitive soul, someone easily crushed by criticism and not very willing to accept praise. I have often got in my own way and not pursued dreams or goals because of the fear of failure and encountering unbeatable obstacles (sometimes very real, sometimes imagined). At some point, I've been able to temper this down a little, although I still can't listen to my boss praise me for a job well done without looking away and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know I'm not alone in this feeling, I don't think there's a single person in the world who hasn't felt like they weren't worthy, or that everything was going to go wrong, at least once in their life.

At no point have I encountered stronger feelings of self-doubt and fear than when I decided that I wanted to be a published author. There are so many steps, each one a potential stumbling block--the potential for failure. Not just in the grander scheme of will my book sell, will the critics hate it, and all of those obvious sort of fears and failures, but in the little ones too. Am I telling the best story I can for my characters? Is this turn of phrase really the best one to use at this point in the story? Worse, there is no instant feedback system. You have to get the story out--or at least a decent-sized chunk of it out--and only then will you hear an external opinion on it. I have to admit, some days are better (easier) than others. Some days, like last week, the fears and doubt grow so debilitating that it's all I can do not to hit delete on everything on my computer and run away to hide.

So, if I have so much fear swirling around, why am I still here, still pursuing my dream? Because I have to.

How am I still here? Because I have a wonderful support network around me. Some of them probably don't even realize I consider them part of that network. I have an incredible pre-reader who, even though we've never met face to face, probably knows me better than most of the people I encounter on a daily basis. I have a husband who helps by picking up the slack on the housework when I have a section that I really need to finish to keep myself from going crazy with the voices in my head. I have a group of family and friends who are just as desperate to have my book in their hands as I am. One day, I also hope to have fans (outside of those family and friends that I've already mentioned) whose voices will help to drown out the negative critiques. Even with all of these things, I know there will be days when I will be convinced that everything I've written is utter trash, but there will be the good days too.

And that's the most important lesson I've learned: it's those good days that make it all worthwhile.

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