Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Fear of Success

"The more I learn, the less I know." 

I'm not sure who said that. I'd love to attribute it correctly, but the illustrious internet gave me three possible options and about twenty variations, so, sadly, I don't know who actually said it first.

Regardless of it's origins, it's message remains true. At least in writing. I've mentioned before the stunning distance my writing has come in the past year. The thing is, the more I learn what to change in my writing, the more intimidated I get.

Because if I've learned nothing else, it's this: It's hard to write well.

Image courtesy of Phaistoon, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
And the thing is, you don't really "get there". There's always classes, trends, workshops, inspirations, and insights that tweak the writing of even the most prolific of authors. While many successful writers have eschewed the classes and critique partners, you still see progress in their writing from the first book to their most recent.

All of this means it's really intimidating to knock of the door of the publishing world and say, "Hello, I'm ready."

When I first decided to pursue writing for real, my first stop was a GRW conference. My story idea garnered some attention and I gleefully sent off my submissions, excited that I could be the one in a million that gets to succeed right away.

Oh, the bliss of ignorance. I know cringe and crawl under a table when I think of the sample pages I sent to some editors last year.

But now, I've grown. My writing has grown. Several people who actually know something have said it's ready to go. And I find myself again in the happy position of having attracted some interest through query letters and conference meets.

I've had my packets ready to go for about two weeks now.

But still, I sat on them.

I began playing hours of video games and reality television. I was staying up to ridiculous hours, filling myself with mindless junk, until suddenly it hit me: I'm scared.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici,
I'm not scared they'll reject me. That will make me sad, but it isn't really that scary.

No, I'm scared they won't reject me. Because if they like it and they take it then that means I'm suddenly supposed to know something. I've gone beyond the student to having arrived somewhere. I would have credentials and they'd expect me to turn around and do it again.

Potential success is terrifying!

But giving up isn't an option, so yesterday I held my breath and hit send. I thought I would throw up. There's still a long road to travel to publication. Don't expect to buy my book on a shelf as a Christmas present this year. But, as Lao-tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

I'm stepping out. I may fall and slide right back to the beginning, but that's okay. I will have seen a little higher up the mountain.

What are you afraid to try? What's stopping you - fear of failure or fear of success?

1 comment:

  1. Y'know, this totally reminds me of the spiritual life: it seems like the more you grow in relationship with the Lord, the more clearly you can see your own sin and your own failings. In writing, the better you get, the better you can see your mistakes - you just KNOW that much more.

    But, in both cases: further up and further in! :D