Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fear of being Outed

Last week over on Seekerville, they had special guest Bob Mayer visiting. He spoke about the writer's greatest fear, that of being discovered as a fraud. You can read Bob's guest blog by clicking on the link below. (I hope you do. It's well worth the time.)

As I read the post, I recognized myself in his words. This writer's life is fraught with fearful things.

I had a real-life bout of fear this past week. You see, I sent a proposal to my agent. A first for me since signing with Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary just about a year ago. The projects I've been working on over the last year were books that had been sold by my previous agent, or books that had been sold via pitch sheet at a conference, or something that a publisher had approached me about me writing for them specifically. This proposal for an historical romance series was the first I had prepared for Rachelle to shop for me.

I labored over the proposal template, filling in the various parts. Hook, back cover copy, comparable books, previous sales, biography, synopsis, sample chapters. Writing, rewriting. Then I sent it to the critique partners and waited anxiously for their verdict.

Strangely enough, I got the best of both worlds with the crit partners on this proposal. One of them hammered the synopsis really hard and went lighter on the sample chapters, while the other crit partner hammered the sample chapters and went lighter on the synopsis. Plenty of great ideas and suggestions, and I had lots to work on.

More rewriting. And I was anxious.

So much so, that I stayed up until 4 am one morning working on it because I couldn't sleep. This is the story of my heart, a rewrite of the first novel I ever attempted. I wanted it to be the best I could make it before I sent it to my agent.

When I had it as pretty and polished as I could, I sent it to Rachelle. And fear clawed up my guts. What if she didn't like it? What if, with this proposal, she realized what a colossal mistake she'd made in agreeing to represent me? What if she outed me as a Bob Mayer had talked about on Seekerville? What if she read it, shook her head, and started drafting an "I'm outta here" letter to let me down easy? She's a nice person. She would let me down easy.

To my great relief, she liked the story, the proposal looked good, and she would send it along.

So, will this result allay all my anxiety so that the next time I send in a proposal, I'll have no fears?

Nope. Next time I'll be just as nervous, just as anxious. And I don't think this is all bad. Because it pushes me to do my very best each time. Because it keeps me from being complacent. A little fear of failure is a healthy thing, as long as it pushes you to try harder and to set higher goals.

Question for you write with fear?


  1. YES.

    I definitely write and send with panic and fear. LOL It's a horrible feeling!

    I'm going to e-mail you about your previous agent...

  2. Okay, LOL, I don't have your e-mail and can't find it on your page.

    Could you e-mail me, when you have time? jessica_nelson7590 at yahoo dot com


  3. Oh yes! Fear is always under the surface, ready to pounce at my insecurities. I'm still so new, but from what I hear from others, the fear never goes away....sigh. :(

  4. It tries to tangle around me often, but I'm thankful I can cut it loose by doing one thing--opening the Bible.

    ~ Wendy

  5. I LOVE that you say that you'll be just as nervous the next time around--I know I would be! But you're right, it does push you to always do your best. And it's truly worth it to always do our best.

    I definitely write with fear. And every time I send something out to crit partners or agents or even to a contest, I'm always worried it's not good enough or the person on the receiving end will not like it.

  6. I write with my best foot forward and a little fear never hurt anyone. ;) I'm still trying to figure out if I LOVE my WIP. I need to love it, right?

  7. I think I may have to post that line above my computer: "A little fear of failure is a healthy thing, as long as it pushes you to try harder and to set higher goals."

    There's no fear as I do the initial writing, but when I get close to sending it out I backpedal in panic, positive that it can't be good enough... not yet. It takes a lot of prayer before God convinces me to "just do it."

  8. Sadly, fear and self-doubt attempt to perch on my shoulders every day of my life. I do my best to brush them off, but they have titanium claws that sink deep.

    My bouts of doubt push me to work harder to produce the best work possible. Even so, I'd love to deliver that deadly duo a knock out punch. I pray because I know One who can wage the war and reap better results than I could ever do on my own.

  9. Yes. I have many fears. When I'm stuck in the first draft, when I'm on my eighth revision, when I hit "send" to query. Writing is personal, rejection is personal, and the whole process is scary!

  10. When it comes to my writing, I'm in a constant state of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear I'll never quite get my writing where it needs to be, fear that people will, like you said, realize and point out to me that I don't have what it takes. It's crazy!

    Good luck with your proposal. I hope and pray you hear great things from it!!

  11. Jess, it is a horrible feeling, but I try to embrace it! LOL

    Sherrinda, I found it liberating when I realized that it happens to everyone and it would keep happening to me. It's part of the job, so I have to go with it and not let it debilitate me.

  12. Wendy, I have to preach the truth to myself, that my value isn't in my work, that I am loved and secure and that nothing much will change in my life if someone doesn't like my work. But I have to preach that to myself constantly. :)

    Cindy, a little fear is a good thing, because you're using to make your work better. I am sure your crit partners love your work.

    T.Anne, I tend to love my ideas more than I love the finished product, because I'm always sure there is somewhere I could improve it if I just knew where and how. I love my characters and wish I had the skill to bring them to life better. I love my plots and settings and wish I could do them justice the way they are in my head.

  13. Carol, you can do it! I often tell myself "Do the best with what you know right now, then send your work out. Then get to work on the next project." :)

    Keli, titanium claws! That describes it perfectly!

    Jill, this whole process is scary. There's always an opportunity, everywhere along the line, to bail out and quit. But we won't. We'll keep on going in spite of our fears! :)

  14. Heather, thank you for the good wishes on the proposal. I really want this one to find a home. It's been in my head and my heart for such a long time. I hope I can do justice to it when the time comes to write it new from scratch.