After receiving several responses, one struck a chord. One reply was: “Are you me? The idea of publication terrifies me. But Oh God do I want it. For the moment I feel secure in the knowledge the chances are slim. But I so want the chance to turn it down. No pleasing me.”
It didn’t take me long to react to the response. Matter of fact something in me went completely nuts. Here is what I wrote:
Okay, I have to throw something out here. I don’t know why I ever thought I was the only one both fearful and thirsting to publish. Wow! How naïve. Here’s the thing: How in the world do we free ourselves from this monstrous fear of doing anything, especially writing? At times, I am angry at all those critiques and side comments about my writing, your writing, anyone’s writing. We need those critiques. I need them! Boy, do I ever. But somewhere in our pea-brains we think the critiques are gods. I keep sitting down day after day trying to get it right. Is there ever a time to get it “right?” Is this all a setup? You go to writers’ conventions and you hear day after day about how to improve your writing. You take writing courses online, spending hundreds of dollars at a time to improve. You do all you can you to hear and understand the criticism. You’re given a hundred reasons why you can’t publish. You must have credentials to even freelance (at least for some sites). Again, I ask, is it all a setup? Seems the only people getting anything out of all this are the ones asking for the money to improve your writing which won’t get published because you have no credentials (for freelancing, that is, for some sites) and as a last resort you end up at a convention and leave with another to-do list of improvements.
Here’s my main point. Ah-Ha! When do we as writers begin to believe in ourselves and finish our projects? Have you ever really picked up a book that was flawless? There’s no such thing. Can we at least agree on that? And if we do, what makes us inferior? Well, we shouldn’t feel inferior. We should write. And when one editor, agent or publisher won’t publish our work, publish it your darn self. Now there! I want to sit down with confidence and finish my work. I don’t mind publishing it myself, but at this point, I want to just finish one piece of work. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve finished my first novel through and through and I’m working on rewrites. But the rewrites are massive and believe me the editor was not shy in giving me yet another list of to-dos to improve upon. (Her point was well taken and I’m rewriting.)
I’m not angry with critiquers. I’m angry, if you can call it anger, disgust might be more appropriate, at how writers allow their vulnerability to take them down a road of “no recovery.” (I’m sure an editor would hammer me for that sentence.) Sometimes I simply think we forget to take the good from critiques and shuck the rest.
[person’s name deleted], my comments are your fault. When I read your comments, it exposed how we all battle feelings of not accomplishing our goal. I don’t want publishing to terrify me, but I’ll be the first to admit, [name deleted], that it does indeed. Maybe that’s why I responded to your comment. Maybe I just needed to write this so I could kick myself in the pants. Maybe someone else out there needs this kick, too. For whatever reason I wrote this, I pray I will get back to the drawing board and write like I’m on fire. I hope all of you do the same. Can somebody out there please tell me they got over the blues of writing and have published something?
WHEW! After all that, I’m not sure I have any energy left. Oh, heck! Sure I do. I’m off to finish that masterpiece.
END OF RANT!
Since my rant two days ago, I went on a writing frenzy and have completed some heavy revisions to my family saga, revised the prologue of my crime novel and I’m in the middle of a magazine article I hope to have done by the end of the year. (I know, that’s a long time, but I’ve research to do, pictures to gather, interviews to conduct.) I hope Sports Illustrated comes calling, but I hear it’s hard to break through their barriers. But isn’t everything about breaking into the writing world hard?
Since life is a pavement of molasses, why don’t we all fall in line and help one another up this treacherous writing hill? Send me a word of encouragement and I’ll send you another rant.
Remember: FEAR is a choice.
HAPPY WRITING EVERYBODY!!!
I feared publishing because I was leery of the reaction of the wider world and wanted validation that my work was worthy of being read. I looked on the darker side, imagined ridicule, thought if an agent and publisher chose my novel, that would mean it was worthy. But guess what, you can’t know the success of a project until it’s the hands of readers. Encouraged by the experiences of others, I published The Girl on the Mountain myself, and am choosing that route for the sequel, Cold Comfort.
Your post should be helpful to many. Good luck!
Carol, I’m delighted to hear that you chose to listen to your gut and move forward to publish your book. The more I stay in this field the more I realize how, like everything else, there’s a price to be paid to be in this profession. We are constantly bombarded with fees for online classes, community college courses, editors, agents, writing conferences, and sometimes ill-informed but well-meaning critiques. “Publishing Terrifies Me!” was written out of the frustration of everyone giving those condescending stares and posing that demeaning question “…and why do you want to write?” It was also written because I can hear the frustrations of other writers. For me, they might as well have told me to go home and stick my head in the ground (which I have done from time to time). No more. But I’m not one to be arrogant and not listen to advice. My problem was I was listening to too many people and I couldn’t discern what to take in and what to discard. I have better hearing now. I’m listening to others chastise me, but the difference now is that I better understand that, in the end, the book belongs to me and I get to say if I keep something in or leave something out. It’s called confidence. I won’t dare say that I am so full of confidence that I don’t need a scolding or two about my writing. However, I won’t let the admonishments discourage me. Writing is a hard line of work. I know. I just spent a week rewriting a prologue. But when you stick with it, there’s no better payoff. I’m always looking for ways to improve. Critiques are absolutely wonderful. You just have to understand what to use from those critiques and which ones to ignore. I’m still learning that. Learning the art of how to use critiques is providing me with so much freedom. That freedom feels great!
Keep writing, Carol. I will too. I feel God is drying up the molasses on the road and I’m better able to get my footing up this hill.
Donna – 🙂