Thursday, February 01, 2007


Posted by Lynne

When I heard our topic this week was managing fear, as it relates to writing and publishing, I immediately thought of Charlie Brown. It was only a month or so ago that I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas with my teenagers. (Yes, they still cling to childhood traditions, but that’s a post for my parenting blog) Perhaps you haven’t watched the show in a while, so I’ll refresh your memory. It opens with Charlie down about not having the right attitude about the holiday. He steps up to Lucy’s psychiatry booth, and asks her opinion. After she lists all the possible phobias he might be struggling with, she gets to pantophobia. Charlie shouts, “That’s it! That’s it; I’m afraid of everything!”

When it comes to writing, receiving critique, submitting work, editing a manuscript, and on it goes, to some degree or other, I’ve been afraid of everything. Truth be told, I still operate with trepidation. Sometimes I’m apprehensive, because it may be only the first or second time I’ve done something; I’m afraid of the unknown. At other times, I may not fully trust the process, or perhaps, I don’t trust myself.

What I’ve learned in writers’ group is that it’s okay to be afraid. Fear is a powerful motivator. The one caveat is that fear must be contained, so it doesn’t have the power to immobilize you, keeping you stuck in the fear, so much so, that it becomes impossible to move forward. FDR said it best; “There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

You might think that now that I’ve been through some of the most intense parts of the writing/publishing process, that the fear goes away. It doesn’t. I’m not saying this to contribute to any fears you may have. It’s simply a matter of truth to say there will always be new things to fear. Not only am I okay with this, I embrace it, too. Whenever you choose to learn the rules of a new game, take risks to put yourself out there, or adopt different thoughts, attitudes, and skills—there will be fear.

I believe what matters most isn’t the extent to which you struggle with fear, but how you choose to contain it. I lean on my writers’ group. In my own Charlie Brown moments, I tell Lisa, Hannah, and Amy, that I realize I might be acting needy, or crave a tidbit of reassurance. They don’t care why I need them for support; they deliver. They do so, I think, because they know the next day I will be strong again, reenergized by a day where the words created a tingling sensation as they traveled from my brain, down my arms, and out my fingertips. They know I won’t wallow in self-doubt for long, because that would pull me further away from what I want more than anything, to live a literary life. They do this for me, in large part, because they know there is nothing I would rather do than push my fear aside and bolster myself up, so that I can do the same for them.


Anonymous said...

This was a really great post for me to read right now, Lynne. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad. You know, it's funny; things can be going really well, yet the apprehension still hovers. It's the uncertainty of it all, I guess. By the way, congratulations on being named an Ingram Reading Selection! Your book is beautiful. Maybe I can convince Amy to give up that galley. Lynne

Michelle Zink said...

I found you through Pat Wood's blog and I have to say - great post!

As a self-confessed control freak, I have to say that waiting for revisions after revision to be approved by my agent has really taught me a lot about fear and letting go.

I've never been great at letting go(!), but I kinda think the universe sends you the lessons you need, you know?

And I've never learned more about patience and fear than I have these past months.

I'm going to post a link on my blog to yours, if you don't mind.

Have a great time at the conference!