Monday, December 17, 2012

Don't Let Fear Hold You Back

When I first started my blog I talked about an issue I ran into in high school with a teacher that resulted in me hiding my writing from everyone for a really, really long time. I thought that by blogging I'd get used to people reading what I write. And I have. I am way more comfortable putting myself out there and just, talking. Sure I still hesitate or think that people will think I'm a dork, or a geek cause of what I blog about, but I've gotten closer to the point where I'm like "oh well. Their loss." I like geeky TV shows like Buffy, Firefly, Veronica Mars, and Castle (just to name a few!), and I play video games. I sometimes think that if I had to pick a character in a book that was most like me, personality wise, it would be Faye from Kristen Ashley's Breathe.  Like her, I'm incredibly shy, definitely a geek, with the added benefit of often being a dork. But I'm cool with that, because, well, that's just me. It has taken a long time for me to accept who I am, but now that I do, I feel comfortable in my own skin.

But even with this relatively new-found self confidence, there are still times I feel a familiar fear creep in and cast doubt on whether I'm 'good enough' when it comes to my writing. My rationale brain knows this is ridiculous. Not everyone is going to like what I write. People will find fault with it, and since it's 2012 and a lot of people out there have lost the art of having manners, some of the criticism will not be constructive and instead will be hurtful and mean. I have a thick skin. I should be able to handle this. I mean, I went to law school. I had to endure the Socratic method  used by a bunch of professors who I swear to god were sadists when it came to humiliating students and bringing them close to tears over questions revolving around torts, criminal procedure, the Constitution, and evidence, among other things. I litigate in family court, get admonished when my clients (or their parents) do things that I tell them not to do, and have argued on  more than several occasions before the Appellate Division. I can handle all this, but yet there are times that the idea of people reading a novel I've written makes me want to cower in a corner. So the questions becomes: why?

I've wracked my brain for an answer and the only thing I can come up with is that I don't have an answer. It is just another part of who I am and something I need to overcome. I've already had a few people read my first novel and am working my way through the edits.  Back in the day, I would have just saved my final WIP and no one would have ever seen it. So...this is progress, in my eyes.  And now, as I move forward with the next steps (querying or self-pub...*tries not to freak out*)...I know that I have to keep going.  I am the only person who has the power to not let my fear stop me from trudging forward. When my novel comes out, people may or may not read it. People may or may not like it. I might have an error here, or used the wrong word there (though I've been editing this so much, if I do, I will scream my house down.) My narrative style might not be to someone's taste. I might have used an adverb. Whatever it is, I will take the constructive criticism and move forward, continuing to write and improving my craft. But I will have scratched something off my Bucket List that I've had on it since I was 8 years old and move on. I finished a novel. I finished a novel. Not many people can say that. But I can. And I'm proud of it.

So what's my point with all this? Why am I writing about my own fears and doubts, again, when it comes to writing? Because this is something I think many writers go through. The writing itself is hard, but it often isn't the hardest part of the process. Often the hardest part is embracing the writing, moving forward and putting it out there. It is often scariest to tell someone--friends, family, coworkers and even strangers--that you wrote a book or story, and let them read it. Fear of judgment, fear of being teased, fear of writing something that doesn't fit the 'mold' of who people expect you to be.  It can overwhelm us and stifle our creative selves. But I urge you:  Don't let it control you.  Don't let it hold you back from something you've wanted to do since forever, the way I did. I hid my writing from those around me for so long that they have no clue I even do it. Not one teeny tiny clue--that's how well I buried it.  And I did it out of fear they would think I was a dreamer, or not serious about my life, or wasting time. Or worse, they would make fun of me for writing, as the little boy in The Princess Bride called it, kissing books! (insert sarcastic voice here *gasp* the horror!*)  With all this fear surrounding me, I held it all inside. I never even gave anyone a chance to react because I let my own fear dictate my actions. Or in this case, my omissions.

Bottom line: Don't let fear control your dream, whatever it may be. Work hard, do your best, keep learning and let it fly. Write what you want, when you want, and how you want. There will be time to improve on the craft; lessons to learn; edits and revisions to make. But there will no improvement at all if you don't write. And when your done and it's the best that it can be, let it go. Let it go with the knowledge that, even if people don't like it or get it, you accomplished something important. You finished a novel, or a short story, or a screenplay. Or whatever it is you were trying to accomplish. You did it, and that is something that no one can ever take away from you.

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