Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fear and Bravery

Fear (fir) n. 1. A feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster or the like; terror, dread, apprehension -- The American Heritage Dictionary

"Our problem is not to be rid of fear but rather to harness and master it." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Writers know fear. We work in constant fear or dread. Our over active imaginations create expectations of danger, pain, disaster or the like. I think it's where writer's block comes from. It's why you can't finish a story. Or why when you do finish a story you can't seem to let anyone read it. Or if they do read it and -heaven help you- tell you that it's not perfect...we scream, we rail, we curl up in a ball...
We fear humiliation. We fear censorship. We fear ridicule.
What if thoughts rush through our mind- I like this idea...what if they don't? What if the rejections are correct? What if I suck? What if the story sucks? What if I took this really cool thing and made a hash of it? What if I did all this work and it's not really a story. What if it goes no where? What if the middle sags? What if the end isn't right? What if I can't finish? What if no one likes it? What if everyone thinks I'm a bad writer?
Even published, I find that when someone reads one of my stories I blush and expect the worse...that I bored them or they found an error or worse... my writing doesn't live up to their expectations.
*smiles* Ah, social phobia... it's kind of why we are writers and not speech givers, isn't it?
To be a writer, one has to lay bare their soul to the world. I read recently where someone described selling a book like "walking naked through McDonalds with all your lumps and bumps exposed to the world."
The world is so quick to judge-to pick, to trounce, to trample the delicate bravery of a story. Why? Is it fear that someone might be better than them? That someone else might take their place in the market? That they might be entertained?Do they fear that they didn't get their money's worth? That your long hours of perfecting a story is somehow a joke to cheat them out of their time? Their precious entertainment dollar?
It takes bravery to put a story down on paper. It takes skill and practice and hard work. More bravery to let others read it and point out flaws. And then to fix those flaws. It takes the heart of a lion to send it out. To cultivate rejections and still refine and work. And then- oh, happy day, you found an agent, an editor...you've sold the book. Only once it's published, you can't control who reads it...what they think about it...what they say. And you find yourself naked on stage...and pushed to tap dance and glad hand-promoting your work to all and sundry.
Don't be afraid. Remember even Mozart and Shakespeare were pelted by their share of tomatoes. Keep dreaming, keep working and when fear settles into your heart and keeps you from writing, from finishing, from sending it out, from promoting-- remember to find the joy, the exuberance that caused you to write in the first place. Hold it dear, like a sword and shield in the darkness. Journey on- for you are the bravest of souls.

6 comments:

Jessica said...

What a beautiful post Nancy! I always am thinking of the verse:

For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

'Cause you know, sometimes writing makes me feel crazy, grumpy and scared. LOL!

You know what's even worse? When a fellow writer tells me they loved my story and I'm AFRAID they're just being nice. LOL Fear is so annoying.

Marilyn Brant said...

This is a fantastic and wonderfully energizing post, Nancy! I feel ready to go into battle (again :-).

Love this: "Hold it dear, like a sword and shield in the darkness. Journey on- for you are the bravest of souls."

Sigh. Just lovely...

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Excellent post - you've expressed so well how I often feel.

Jane Kennedy Sutton
http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/

Justus M. Bowman said...

A true and beautiful post. Writing does not suit cowards.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Thanks everyone!

Jessica-you crack me up.

Cheers-

Marty said...

Nancy - I have an award for you over at my blog page.