It’s hard to write about scary things the day after Halloween. The ghosts and goblins have disappeared, and my pre-coffee reflection scares me more than anything else this morning.
But this week’s topic calls for fear, and fear is something with which I am very familiar.
When I started writing, I feared I would never write well enough for publication.
I wrote anyway.
When I finished each of my manuscripts, I feared that no agent would ever represent them.
I sent out queries.
When my inbox pinged with each of the fifty-two rejections I received, I feared my goals were forever beyond my reach.
I started over, finished another novel and queried again.
On the day my agent signed me as a client, I stood on top of the mountain and breathed the rarefied air of a world with no fear in it.
We went on submission and lo! my fear returned.
After signing a three-book deal, seeing my debut novel available for pre-order, and hearing the soul-warming words of the people who’ve read and enjoyed it, I’d like to tell you my fear has exited the stage, pursued by a bear.*
But I’d be lying.
Fear is an author’s traveling companion. It recedes in the golden moments when people read and enjoy our work, but rushes in again, regular as the tide, when darkness falls and we find ourselves alone. We worry about reviews, about sales, about social media trolls and rain on the cupcakes we brought to hand out at our signings.
We fret over big things and small things – and sometimes over things so distant we laugh at ourselves for our silliness … only to worry anew over all the things we don’t even know if we ought to be worried about.
But that’s when smart authors call in the Worry Marines.
When I find myself ready to chew all my nails to the quick, I reach out to my family, my friends, and the fellow authors who walk beside me on this publishing road. Alone, we are vulnerable to terror. Together we are strong. From my fellow debutantes, to my writing group, and the many authors (published and aspiring) in my circles of acquaintance, I am blessed with a network of support that stretches far and holds me up with a strength I could never manage on my own. They are my Worry Marines, and no terrors my my can summon can stand against them.
The question is not how writers banish fear, but how we manage it.
We must measure success in how well and how quickly we drive fear back to the shadows from whence it came. In one sense, I fear everything – all the possible failures, in all their varied forms – but with my Worry Marines around me, I fear nothing.
I know my friends – my Worry Marines – will keep me strong.
Who are your Worry Marines? Do you have good friends or family who help you through your fears? If you write – have you found an effective way to minimize your fears, or convert them to motivations? I’d love to know!
*Extra points to anyone who recognizes this reference. It’s one of my favorites.