Make Friends With FearSometimes it is the very act of moving instead of staying stagnant and still that gives us the necessary momentum to accomplish our next goal. Many a creature, including man, has faced Demon Fear only to die of a heart attack or something related to fear. "Deer in headlights" is an expression that best describes the paralysis that short-circuits our brains and freezes us.
Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar refers to FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real. All I can say is that the slogan works for me. If it didn't, I'd have caved in many a time to what was more internal panic than some gaping black hole of external force that threatened to swallow me. Or as one friend puts it when I'm tempted to shy away from a task, an interview, a mission..."They can't eat you."
My friend Heather Rae Scott just sold her first book, and I want to brag on her. She's had death, destruction, calamities galore during the past two months. Rejections on manuscripts, friends caught in burning buildings--we're talking children, not just adults, a patient she's sat with for years passing away, relatives hospitalized, a pet dying, her own children traumatized by the events, and her dear grandmother placed under the care of Hospice. Plus other things she hasn't blogged about, so I won't go into airing her laundry in public. My point is that despite all of this she continued to write and to submit her work--and it's paid off handsomely. She sold. If she'd caved in to the fear, even the fear of the unknown, not just the sure things she saw coming, she'd never have been able to move, to act. Courage has a face--it's that of my friend Rae.
Some of us are more afraid of success than failure (raises hand here - must include me...I've had too many friends and family members tell me so for me to ignore the possibility). One friend went so far as to say that when I get money, I only elevate myself to a higher level of poor, that it's not success so much as a fear of being responsible for my own well being that pushes my buttons.
Another friend is just the opposite--she's so paralyzed by the thought that she won't "make it" that she refuses to submit anything, for fear that those who know will ridicule or...the worst for her...pity her. She's so used to being "the golden girl" that she can't stomach the idea that she won't be the best, much less stand and be counted as someone who succeeded.
Writing takes magnificent courage--we put our own lives under a microscope, allowing those who read our words to peer into our souls, our thoughts and dreams, the dark places that even we don't like to visit, much less spotlight for others to view. As one writer puts it: If I get published, the people I don't like will have ammunition to hurt me, to make me feel bad about myself.
Very telling, huh? That one has a fear of exposure? Not really. To me, it's simply that they already hand too much power to others, that they measure themselves by someone else's yardstick rather than their own.
Once we identify what holds us back, as writers and individuals, we're able to conquer our demons, to make friends with the very things that we allow to limit us. We're not puppets, with someone else pulling the strings, unless we string ourself and hand over the reins. Once we realize that it's probably self-doubt more than our egos on the line, we can move forward.
Life isn't a specator sport unless we make it such. Writers are people-watchers, spectators, sure. We're also participants when we take charge and forge ahead. Writing is an adventure. Put on your Indiana Jones hat, crack the whip, and press on. Give yourself permission to fail...and to succeed. Celebrate each step that takes you closer to your goal.
You've read in my blogs about my son. If I've done anything "right" in my life, it was producing that boy. When I got serious about my writing and put my energies where my mouth was, he gave me a Mother's Day present one year that I'll never forget. It was a beat-up felt hat, same color and style as the one worn by Harrison Ford in the Indie movies. With it was a note: Happy Mother's Day to my adventurous mom.
My hat is off to Rae today.