Do I have anything to say about art and fear? Oh, hahahahahahaha, let me count the ways.
No seriously, let me count the ways. Here is just a small selection of fear-based thoughts I have before, during, and after I write, any one of which could completely paralyze me and keep the thing from ever being written or sent out:
This idea is dumb, not genius–despite what I thought in those glorious first few seconds/minutes/hours/days after I thought of it.
Okay, this idea might be good, but other, more accomplished writers have already dealt with it, and way more effectively than I ever could.
And it’s pretty egotistical to assume I have something new to say on this topic. (Who do I think I am?)
Obviously, since it took me four hours to craft the first two sentences, it’s just not meant to be. (How did I ever do this? What if I can’t ever do it again?)
This idea was sparked by something that happened to me IRL. And even though, for dramatic purposes, that thing has morphed into something entirely different and taken on a life of its own, somebody might think it’s about them. Defs not worth all that potential upset…
…especially since it’s a steaming pile of crap, anyway. I’m a third of the way through now and it is not working. What if I spend months writing it and nobody wants it?
I could send it to my critique partner, but she’d probably just wonder how I could write something so bad. She’s been nominated for a frickin’ GG! (Hi, Danielle.)
Once I have a rough draft, I could run it by one of my editors, but they’ll probably just wonder how I could write something so bad.
And if I send it to them too early, I run the risk of having them turn it down.
And then I’ll have to send it out to a ton of other editors, who will also reject it…
(Rejection is hard, especially for sensitive writer types, and there’s so damn much of it in this biz…)
Even if somebody–who obviously doesn’t know what they’re doing–publishes this steaming pile of crap, the reviews will be terrible.
And then everybody will know I’m a fraud.
Sure enough, oh, look, there are a hundred one-star reviews on Goodreads…
Wait a minute—are these by Trump supporters? Is it my Jewish last name? (0r, um, my occasional anti-Trump posts on social media?)
The traditional review outlets have either panned or ignored my book.
Oh no, my editing clients are going to see all this. Why would they trust me to help them with their books? My editing career’s gonna go down the toilet…
My kids are gonna see this too. And think their mom’s a loser.
Their mom is a loser.
Sales are crap. No way any publishers will touch me in the future.
And if they do, they for sure won’t put big resources/a marketing push behind me.
My career is basically over.
What am I gonna do now? Why did I ever leave that in-house editing position decades ago? Oh yeah, cuz I’d published my first novel the year before and thought my writing career was made. Hahahahahahahahahahah. And now I’ve been out way too long to get an in-house position. I’ve always been super frugal, but now I’ll actually have zero money coming in and I’ll have to live on the streets, under a bridge…
Well, okay, maybe not. I might still get the odd editing gig, the odd book contract. But my career will never hit that next level. I’ll never be on a list or nominated for an award or get invited to speak to school kids or at conferences. (And even if I do get speaking gigs, they’ll know I’m a fraud. Also, I won’t be nearly as interesting/informative/entertaining/witty/charming as all those other speakers…)
Are people talking about me? I’m pretty sure people are talking about me. About my pathetic, so-called writing career.
Like I said, that’s just a teensy selection of the bajillion and one fears I have to beat away with a metaphorical broom every single damn time I write something.
It’s almost funny, really.
No, it is funny just how many opportunities there are during the writing/publishing process to let fear get the best of us. Yeah, us. Though sometimes I convince myself I’m the only one feeling or experiencing these things, deep down, I know I’m not the only one. Okay, not even deep down. I often meet and commiserate with author friends, so I actually know other writers have to constantly battle all these fears, too. It’s part of the game, baby.
I also know that I—and all my friends—are effing champs for powering through these shitty fear-thoughts every damn time we write something. Honestly, it’s a damn miracle any of us gets anything written, ever. And here’s a notion: I think feeling fear can actually be a good sign, especially in those early stages. It’s a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something different. The payoff could be huge!
Oh, but the risk—
JUST SHUT UP NOW
BEV KATZ is an editrix and author whose hobbies include dancing, hiking, and smashing the patriarchy. Her upcoming middle grade novel Who is Tanksy? comes out in Fall, 2019. More about Bev at http://bevkatz.com/