Friday, 6 January 2012

Feel the fear - and hide

Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? No, I’m not talking about rain on my wedding day (it was quite sunny actually, though very windy. And I have never worked out how rain on a wedding day was ironic anyway). I profess to be a writer, amongst many other things, but for the last two months I have done very little actual writing. I have been on my computer a lot; tweeting (over 6000, mostly since April this year, no I’m not proud), blogging, reading – but actual writing? Not so much.

And yes, there was the husband’s Big Birthday and visitors and Christmas and weddings and I have a job and a child (not necessarily in that order) and volunteering and the occasional bit of housework. I even go out on the very rare occasion. Oh, and there was The Killing obsession although I consider that essential research as Danish crime TV is so closely linked to sweet romance writing, honestly. But the reality is I have been too full of fear to carry on.

Fear that the current submission will get another standard R, fear that as current WIP didn’t place in NV it’s not worth writing, fear that I am wasting my time; fear that I am a big fraud. Paralysing, all-encompassing fear. I should Face the Fear and Do It Anyway, remember that I have Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself but although I open up WIP, move a word here, delete a word there it remains static. And yet last year I received such brilliant encouragement, so many reasons to believe in my writing, so much hope I should have confidence. Only confidence is in short supply.

OH and I are at yet another crossroads, trying to peer into a crystal ball and see what the future holds. Since Northern Rock crashed our fortunes have been turbulent, in the resulting panic, as businesses tightened their belts we were both made redundant within just four months of the run on the bank. Freelance work eventually found we tried to pay off the resulting debt, pull ourselves back up only to find ourselves back out of work as the recession took hold and freelancers jettisoned. Grimly we clung on and found work, jobs we enjoy, employers we are proud to work for. This new crossroads may just be a tiny blip, may be something we look back on as a good thing, may change everything for the better – or for the worse. Regardless, I know full well that there is no use worrying but I am worrying anyway.
There are people who believe that Everything Happens for a Reason, that life is a series of valuable lessons like some true-life special on an obscure movie channel. I don’t. I don’t believe that life is necessarily what you make it nor do I believe that good things happen to good people or those that wait. Life is unpredictable, bad things happen to good people, hard work doesn’t always pay off and sometimes all you can do is hold on.

However I also know that books don’t write themselves, that contracts don’t materialise out of thin air and sometimes you just have to get over yourself. Write through the fear, the lack of confidence; give yourself permission to write badly, to make no sense. Just Write. In three quarters of an hour I am going to attempt to do my first 1k1hr in 2 months. I am going to Carry On Regardless.

Wish me Luck


Catherine Coles said...

Come hold my hand over here in the room of fear. I am totally with you and I understand every word of your post. I will be the one in the corner cowering!!

Have started writing again this week. If you make me write every day, I promise I'll do the same for you :-]

Alexandra said...

I feel it! It's horrible but we mustn't let it take control. It's not easy to get back into the swing of things after a break and even harder when you are playing the waiting game. A couple of 1k1hr stints might be just the thing to get you back into the flow.

Alison said...


I'm feeling the fear in lots of ways too at the moment.

Onward and upward!

Anonymous said...

Fear is paralyzing. And you are right, there are NO guarantees. Like you, I believe a lot of life is just random.

Wishing you lots of luck and the strength to overcome the fear!

Suz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susie Medwell said...

Great post, I know exactly how you feel. I lost my job this time last year and thought I would set aside 12 months to spend time seriously writing. Having just(yesterday) had another R from M&B it makes it harder to rework my NV entry and submit that (is it worth it, it didn't even get placed?!). This week though I started a new story and joined in 1k1hr for the first time in a couple of months and I actually got some motivation back. So like you, I'm going to write through the fear. Good luck!

Julia Broadbooks said...

There are so many changes in my life in this year, things that are good, but make everything seem uncertain again. Like everyone else, we are feeling the pinch and worry of financial uncertainty.

I'd like to blame all my doubts squarely on that, but that wouldn't be completely honest. There is that little voice that whispers that a word isn't right, that a phrase is awkward. That part is often true, so it's important to listen to the voice. But the voice keeps whispering in the background until it seems easier to close the document and watch a movie or something.

Jen Drogell said...

Yes Susie rework it and send it in. Lots of writers who've never won contests have been published! Great post thank you! Feeling the same way these days and pushing myself to just keep working on that NV WIP! There was a heck of a lot of talent in NV this year. Across the board!

Marguerite Kaye said...

I've only ever won one contest in my life, and that was when I was 9 years old, for a poem. Fear is totally normal, and these days everyone is suffering. I think the fact that you've picked yourself up and come back from redundancy shows that you're a fighter, and the fact that you're still posting and joining in writing groups shows that you want to. Alexandra's suggestion of a couple of 1k 1 hour stints is a great one if you can manage it. I find writing is a brilliant escape from the doom and gloom that's everywhere just now. You're in charge, you can have people do exactly as you want, you're not answerable to anyone, and it's your world - how powerful is that? It's not easy, we all have days when we want to hide under the duvet, but once you get started, it just feels SO good. So go for it.

gabba writes said...

Keep at it my friend! Back in the day (not that long ago really) my entire way of being (not just writing) was grounded in fear. Frozen - in fact, set in it like Concrete (my husband is a builder and I know how ‘hard’ concrete gets!)
However, cracks in my concrete fear crust have begun to appear. I’ve shut my eyes and just punched through the gritty layers of it. I got some bruised knuckles but I didn’t break any fingers - it’s all worth it. Learning is such a great thing.
Good on you for a great post – if you want it Red go for it... It is possible to put a jackhammer through concrete (you’ll even get a good result if you start picking away at concrete with a nail file) or you can find the right tool for you.
Keep writing, have a great day!!!

Christy Mitchinson said...

Like you, I work full time and have a child (4 year old boy) and much to my suprise, I am now pregnant with a girl (due April). So with the rising costs of gas and childcare, I'm looking to freelance as well. God knows, I won't be able to afford to go back to the OR!

I fear the big R, too. But for terribly selfish reasons. I want to find a way to survive-- no, I NEED to find a way to survive-- working from home and I can't imagine a better way to do it. So, I'm more afraid that the rejections will prove all of this hardwork to be for nothing and I have to start over and try again. I know,I know, you have to write a number of manuscripts before you can even dream of getting The Call, but frankly, I don't have time for it. I have to do my best to make each and every MS publishable. I should've started taking this seriously years ago.

Xandra James said...

It seems like we're all feeling the fear in one way or another. I agree with other posters, you've got an amazing amount of courage to pick yourself up after your personal setbacks - breaking through in publishing will be another one of your achievements. I just know it.

Keep going. I know it's hard(am feeling it too) but you'll never know if you can do it until you put yourself out there.


Morton S Gray said...

Sounds like the Fear club is a big one - put my name down too. I got accepted onto the RNA New Writers' Scheme 2012 and after the initial euphoria I went into hiding and now think my writing is rubbish - help!

I think we all suffer from the same insecurities, but I keep clinging to the fact that everyone likes different things and that hopefully there will be a proportion of readers who will like my work and your work!!! Keep going.

Here's hoping for a better year for you and yours in 2012! Love and hugs. Mx

Rose Red said...

Thank you EVERYONE for your comments and your honesty and support. I had thought twice about posting this particular blog piece as it does allude to some pretty personal stuff; I cleared it with my husband first which is most unlike me! But as the whole point of this blog is to follow my journey as a writer and this charts where I am right now I knew I had to post it. I didn't expect such a response though. It is so good to know that I am not alone - that none of us are. x

Doris O'connor said...

Fear can be paralysing indeed and sometimes life just plain sucks. It is never easy to pick yourself up and keep going, but, if you don't keep going you'll never achieve your dreams.

Rejection is a painful, but necessary process. I've lost count how many R's I received before things changed. It never gets easier to take and even with a few publishing contracts under my belt, I never take acceptance for granted.
Then there is the whole fear of never having a character speak to you again. I stalled on my Nano project last year for various reasons. Wrote other things, hoping it would come back to me, and nothing.
I made myself open the word doc Jan 1st and wrote about 300 words. It was like pulling teeth, but it clearly jolted something and six days later, I'm almost done with the first draft.
Sometimes the muse needs a good kick in the teeth and to be dragged out kicking and screaming.
Good luck to all of you struggling. Give me a few weeks and I'll no doubt be in that place again myself.