Fear and Writing in California

Veronica Rossi 10 Thursday, May 23, 2013

This week, our blogging topic is All About Me.

I was trying to think about what to tell you guys, and the word fear popped into my head. Fear plays a big part in my writing life. Right now it’s the star of the show.

Last week, I turned in the final book in the UNDER THE NEVER SKY trilogy to my editor. I won’t see the book again for a few weeks, when I get copy edits back. For the first time in three years I find myself with no looming deadline. No pressing story to write. And honestly, guys, I thought it was going to be awesome.

My plans with my newfound freedom were to sleep, spend time with my kids, exercise, read, read, read. I was also very excited to get going on my next series, and while I’ve done most things, I haven’t done that. I can’t because of fear.

See, in my head, New Series is perfect. A balance of adventure, romance, and fantasy. Epic in scope, but deeply personal in its character struggles. It is, essentially, a Platonic Ideal. (Perfectionist much, V?) It’s like when someone tells you about Iron Man 3, and how amazing it is. And OMG it’s so good. Best Iron Man movie yet. You have to see it. And all you’re thinking is, “it’s going to suck.”

I’m doing all of that by myself. Or I should say to myself. Instead of writing this shiny idea, I let it live in my mind, untarnished, sitting right on its pedestal on the mantle.

I have this book called ART & FEAR. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“… Fears arise when you look back, and they arise when you look ahead…. Fears rise in those entirely appropriate (and frequently recurring) moments when vision races ahead of execution.”

That’s pretty much me. Vision galloping ahead at mile twenty-six while execution has stopped for some PowerAde and a chat with the marathon spectators at mile two.

I keep calling friends and family and whining about not writing. (Sorry, friends and family.) I'm reading, and spending time with my kids. Relaxing some, definitely, but I am a writer and writers write. The minute I hit send to my editor, my creative appetite was no longer being fed. I want to go. I just can't.

In one of my whiny phone calls, my dear friend Lia told me that a book wouldn’t be worth writing if you weren’t afraid of it. Fear means you care deeply, she said. Fear means it’s the right story. That’s all true. My passion for this story has created the wall that’s in front of me. My intense desire to write it is exactly what’s stopping me from writing it. (Hey, no one ever said I was sane, all right?)

But I know that my will to create is more powerful than my fear of failure. My love of writing is bigger than the flaws I perceive in my ability. I saw Iron Man 3, and it was amazing, and how would I have known that, if I hadn’t given it a chance?

I’ll get past this wall. Soon, I tell myself. Maybe today I’ll set the PowerAde down, and jump in the race. Just thinking about it makes me want to run around the house screaming at the top of my lungs with joy.

So, that’s my ALL ABOUT ME. Fear has a pretty good hold on me right now, but not for long, friends. Not for long.

Have any of you felt this way? I’d love to hear how you deal with it.


such an awesome post! I have a massive fear of failure. massive. its like some sort of condition! lol i had a biology exam today which finished at 11am and as soon as i got home i just sat and prayed for like 5 hours because i was so scared i would get an A* - the highest grade you can get - see..my fear of failure is so extreme that if i get anything less than top marks, i dismiss it as a failure. not a good way to live life lol but thats me!

Oh... I TOTALLY understand. That's how I think, too. I'm sure you did great on the exam. And be proud of yourself for working so hard! It really sounds like you did everything you could. *hugs*

I have a bit of this myself, basically an offshoot of perfectionism. One of the things that helps me at times is to embrace the suck. To tell myself, "Okay, let's just try to write one crappy scene." And then another. Etc.

Something I wonder if you're taking into account: the fact that you JUST turned in a MS to your editor, after busting your butt on a trilogy for years and years. Is it possible that rather than work on the new series, you might benefit from just goofing around--researching, collecting images, sketching in character bios? Or even just READING or writing poems or watching movies, etc?

Maybe what you feel is not just fear but also a bit of creative burnout with a need to be recharged?

Just a thought! My feeling is that you might need to rest and play and let things percolate a bit, and then you'll feel all of the amazing writerly mojo that will help you kick fear in the butt!

Go kick a**, Veronica!

I deal with fear much the same way: whine until I get so tired of my whining voice that I have to shut up, sit down, and write. But it is SO HARD when what I imagined doesn't transfer exactly to the page.

But then? So rewarding when I discover new things that are even cooler than what I'd imagined. And that's why I keep comin' back.

Fear, for me, is fueled by anxiety and the waiting period before something starts or ends. Most of the time, it's not serious things I'm anxious about, so I try to think of things that I am excited for and things that are happening right now that I can focus on, and when the time comes for the other thing(s), I can deal with them then. But for the larger things, I've got the fear bug big time. I also think it has to do with pride. I want to be proud of my work or what I do, and the fear of rejection or failure rises too high and the anticipation of being accepted or succeeding is pushed back.

Thanks for sharing, V!

Tomorrow we begin, V. At 9 am sharp. Twelve days to draft a 30K skeletal zero draft, a 'me' draft, the draft that no one else will ever see, but which is purely for our own delight and entertainment. I dare you to have fun with me.

Spend today writing yourself a letter about what you love about this project, putting together a list of chapter titles that describe the point of each chapter, followed by a short summary of what happens in each. Start with the last one: the ending, the point of it all. Then go back in time to the first chapter and set up the ending. Then discover how your characters will get there by writing a list of what could happen in between. If you need to put a list of several options for each, do so. By the time you've done this you'll know which ones resonate as 'right'.

By the time you're done you'll have a story with a beginning, middle, and end. You can't afford to dawdle on the Isle of Infinite Potential forever. You have to paddle into the Estuary of Enchantment, then wade further into the Bay of Blind Faith, before diving deep into the ocean on a quest for Atlantis.

Now, if nothing else, you should be laughing... and laughter is the best antidote for fear. Stop taking this project so seriously and have FUN.

12 days. 20-30K zero draft. You in?

THIS. I've got an unusual break while I'm waiting for my Cahill Book 3 edit letter, and a writing retreat coming up this weekend, and I really *want* to work on my potential next book. But I'm scared because in my head it's all lovely and shiny and full of...well, potential perfection. And first drafts are so not, you know? You know. I think the way I push through is by NOT writing for 2-3 weeks, until I'm insanely restless and itchy-brained, and the MUSTWRITENOW overwhelms the fear. But I pity my husband for putting up with me in the meantime.

First of all, it's a relief to know that even you struggle with fear while writing.

I always admired how writers could create whole worlds with only 26 letters and I wanted to try to do the same. But I was too afraid anyone would read it and think it's crap (which I was sure it would be but I really didn't need others telling me that), so I created the stories in my head and never wrote them down. Until one day I realized I don't have to show them to anyone if I don't want to. I don't even have to tell them I'm writing. This was the only thing that made me feel secure enough to start. I still hide my notebook and no one knows what's in it, but at least I'm no longer afraid to put pen to paper and fill the pages with my words.

Anyway, I have no doubt that whatever you decide to write will be fabulous and I can't wait to read it. But I will wait patiently for you to start when you feel like it.

Thanks, guys. You are all so wonderful. Thanks for your encouragement and your words of wisdom! It's great to be part of such a supportive writing community. And IceGirl, I'm so glad you're writing, despite the fear. Keep at it! <3

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