Facing The Fear

I had the opportunity to grumble at my old Creative Writing tutor about one of the greatest omissions made on my course: overcoming The Fear.

You see it turns out I haven't been suffering from The Funk at all. Oh no. It's so much worse than that. I've been suffering from The Fear. Or rather, I've been running the hell away from it. 

At the end of my writing bout in the beginning of May, after I totted up my word count I had the sneaking realisation that I was sadly mistaken. The Plan I had created and set in motion wasn't going to work at all. It was a duff - pretty much the way most of my plans have turned out. 

It's now the beginning of June and looking back, I see my mistake so clearly now. Forgive me Father, but I'm a bit slow sometimes. It's not that my writing is bad, or the structure is off, or the characterisation is sloppy. It's just that I created The Plan in an effort to be safe. I had a goal that was as safe as I could create. Writing for Harlequin Romance is as safe as I could make my goal. They are the only publisher supporting new writers, both through craft and payment. They continue publishing through thick and thin and are always on the lookout for new writers. They like new writers. They also engage with their readers to find out where their interests lie and how their writers can match them. 

The rest of the publishing world, not so much.

They have a business to run and are looking for the next JK Rowling and George RR Martin. They don't have time to baby new writers. They are looking for sales. 

I'm terrified by that world, to the marrow of my quaking bones.

And here's the problem. The book I am writing does not fit into the remit of Harlequin Romance. Yes, I could tone it down, mould it to fit their requirements. The problem is that I am invested in the story as it stands. It's more than that. It needs more space than Harlequin can provide.

As I was packing the dishwasher I had the insight that writing is like falling in love. You can have relationships without falling in love and they can be quite good and lots of fun. Copywriting is like that. I can churn out words to fit the count on any given subject, bank the cheque and move on to the next project without remembering the previous. To fall in love, is to risk. It is to risk everything. To be vulnerable. To experience highs and lows at another's whim and fancy. To give up control. To know that at the end you could be crushed like a plastic container under foot and tossed into the recycling without another thought, or to be transmuted into the gold of acceptance and joy. 

There is no safe falling in love and no safe in writing. 

The more I try to hold back, the more my writing suffers. And I am a coward.

  • I am afraid that The Fear will prevent me from finishing what I've started
  • I am afraid that I will not find an agent to read my finished manuscript
  • I am terrified that it will languish on publishers' floors
  • I am afraid that I will only ever know impoverishment through my creativity
  • I am worried that I will have to do this the hard way: self-publish and self-marketed
  • I am worried that the only people who will read and buy this are friends and family
  • I am petrified that I will die disappointed in me, because I didn't do it. 

It's fairly obvious halting my therapy was a mistake. The Crazy has come to stay. It's always so much worse when I don't write. 

And that's the thing: I need to write.

I broke one of the cardinal rules of writing yesterday: thou shalt not show anyone thy first, unedited, unproofed draft. 

The Great Ursus and his Lovely spent the day with me yesterday. While the Lovely Ursus listened to my endless burbling of neuroses, the Great Ursus read my words. The Great Ursus reads what I read. We swap books, rant about them, rave about them together. He is my Dear Reader. His feedback was enormously helpful. As was his kick up the bum.

I will indulge and procrastinate for the rest of the week, simply because there are other things that need doing around here, that I must attend to. I also am gathering the tiny pieces of my courage. They are scattered around here somewhere. 

I will not give into The Fear. It will not win again. I will not let it divert me from this path. 


  1. Be brave my lovely! Yeah, same here, I don't want to die being disappointed with myself.

  2. I'm trying honey. I would rather die with my book written and un-published or un-loved, than with the damn thing stuck in my head.

    Here's to keep on, keeping on!


  3. Keep Calm & Carry On! (I saw that on a poster somewhere.)

    PS: Last week I saw a car with a Trinidad flag license plate frame!

    1. I'm trying honey, I really am.

      We Trinidadians get about. :)

  4. Oh dear this is the third time I've tried to leave a comment so if somewhere you have the previous two already, please forgive me. What I was saying was ... I love that your despair recycles! I also said that you, and young Sx, will never die disappointed because behind The Fear you have The Hope in your hearts and that and doing what you love, are the most important things in life. Just get on with it ;-) xx

    1. Nope. This is the only comment that got through.

      I think I get what you mean. Yes, the despair hits and I live with it and then beat it back again. It's not so much hope as determination.

      And yes, I'm getting on with it! :)

      Masses of hugs to you!

  5. sometimes i think that once we admit to The Fear, we push it away. and then on other days, i know that all i've done is just push it further on down the road and that only when i have finished/conquered my task will The Fear be completely gone. we keep moving on, but then, you already know that, sweetpea! ;) xoxoxoxox

    1. Now that I have recognised it and what it's been trying to tell me, I realise there's wisdom in it.

      It means I've got to put on my Big Girl Pants and write no matter what.

  6. At least you're writing something! And now that you've faced The Fear and are gathering that courage (did you get all the little bits from down the back of the sofa?), it can only get better.
    Success, Roses. Success!

    1. I hope so honey. I really hope so.

  7. Write, and give a damn.


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