In some ways, it seems silly to write about this topic in connection with being a writer. What am I afraid of anyway? It’s not as though I’m going into battle. Nobody’s going to wave a sword or a gun at me. I’m sitting at a computer pecking out words, for pity’s sake.
But fear is very real. It strikes writers at different stages, and the result is usually paralysis.
Some never finish their stories because of it. For others, getting feedback is the hurdle, and finished drafts languish in drawers and on hard drives, awaiting critique that never comes. Others, having read so many one-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, never find the courage to send out their query letter or self-publish.
I’m lucky. I can finish my stories, no problem. I’ve sent query letters. I’ve put my words out there for critique. Fear hits me when I submit to publishers–any publisher.
I have no idea why.
I don’t cry when I get rejection letters. I usually shrug and tell myself that writers get more rejections than acceptances. But apparently, rejection hits me harder than I’m willing to acknowledge, because clicking the send button can have me procrastinating for weeks.
Stories that are ready get sent out for one more beta round. I put off formatting them because I do, after all, have other stuff that needs to be done. I research published copies of mags, trying to find still more publishers where my work will fit. I read my stories over carefully for the umpteenth time, searching for one last hidden typo, one more word that I could have chosen better. And these are all good things, in moderation. But when I do it for weeks to avoid sending out my stories another time, it’s just procrastination.
Suck it up, buttercup–my stories will be told. Fear is not going to win.
Nice job, Cathleen! Submissions always scared me too. One day I got mad and sent out a bunch and it was that day that resulted in a publishing contract. I’m sure you’re on your way!
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Thanks! The thing is I’ve even sold two stories, so I know it’s possible. But fear, by its very nature, is not rational. I’m delighted to hear about your publishing contract. You go, Colleen!
I feel you. I get through all of the stages, planning, writing, editing, querying and even sending to a publisher. It’s that time spent waiting after everything is sent that sends me into a tailspin. When there’s just nothing left that I can do. I become terribly unproductive and at times sulky. If only all writers had that voice inside telling them to “suck it up, butter cup”. Good luck with the new submissions and thank you for sharing your thoughts!
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Yeah, waiting is enough to drive any sane person, well, nuts. It’s a pity it doesn’t translate well to narrative. I tried a scene once where my protag was waiting on results of an operation at the hospital, and it was a scrap-and-re-do when I posted it on AbsoluteWrite. Normally, I try to channel strong feelings back into my writing, but waiting frustration has thus far defeated me. *shrugs*