F is For Fear

How often have you let fear stop you from doing something you wanted to do?  I’m not talking about phobias- of heights, of snakes, etc.  I’m talking about the littler fears that are really much larger.

In my case, it’s fear of sounding dumb, or worse, sounding like a know it all.  I’m quite awkward in social situations, and I get nervous and trip over my tongue when I try to make friends.  I know I’m not dumb, far from it.  I just tend to sound that way because I get nervous and words get jumbled.  Other times, I’ve pushed myself to talk, and get accused of being a know it all!  It’s just that I’m more comfortable, being pedantic and talking about trivia, facts and figures, than I am talking about personal stuff.

I’ve missed out on a lot of experiences from both respects.  On one hand, I really am an introvert and really do prefer to stay home with my books, my animals, and my laptop.  On the other hand, I have to wonder if I’ve allowed fear to hold me back in some ways.

As I thought about this (since I often write blog posts in parts, over a period of hours or days), I asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”  At first, the answer was, “nothing.”  I feel pretty content except for always running out of time to do what I want, namely, write.  Even when I do write things other than blog posts, I tend to get distracted, allow it to fall low on my priority list.  In other words, I seem to be sabotaging myself.

I had a huge revelation in the shower today.  I wrote my last novel before I thought about getting published.  For those of you who already know this story, I apologize.  Seven years ago (yes, seven), I wrote a novel.  It was my third?  Fourth?  (I didn’t say they were good).  This one was different.  It was actually pretty good.  I wrote it over a period of one magical summer.  The words just flowed out.  Yes, it needed a ton of polishing, but it had good bones.

After I finished it, my husband asked a seemingly innocent question, “You write all this stuff… why don’t you ever try to get it published?”

The question blew me away because it had just never occurred to me before.  So, I started doing research.  I contacted editors and agents.  I went to writer’s conferences, read everything I could online, and subscribed to magazines.

And I haven’t been able to finish a novel since then.

I’ve started several, several I know, as a reader, have the potential to be better than the one that started me on this journey.  I’ve edited, polished, sweated, cursed, and rewritten the novel that put me on this path in the first place.  But I haven’t gotten any closer to getting it published than I was seven years ago.

Is it fear that’s stopping me?  What if it isn’t my lack of organization, lack of time, lack of discipline?  What if it’s just plain old fear?  Puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?

This being Friday, this is going to double as a writing prompt, and really, I think it’s a perfect writing prompt.  Whether you’re using this for journaling or fiction, ask yourself, or your character, this question:  What would you do if you weren’t afraid?  What chances would you take if you (or your character) only had a few months left to live?  What would you (or your character) do differently?  What would be important in life?