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Saturday, January 27, 2007

What are you afraid of?

I know this is going to sound crazy with a capital INSANE, but over the years that I struggled to write and publish The Door Within, I was seriously afraid. But the fear I experienced might surprise you. Certainly, there was the expected fear of rejection, and the fear that I might never get published. But there was another fear…a fear so odd I'm almost embarrassed to admit it. I do so only because there might be another author out there fettered by the same fear.

I was afraid to succeed.

You read that correctly. For a long time (13 years to be precise), while writing The Door Within I actually was afraid of getting published. I'm not totally sure why, but I have suspicions. You see, I grew pretty comfortable always telling people, "Yeah, I'm working on a book. I hope it'll get published some day." That was good for conversation. It said to people that I was creative and interesting, but it always left me an out. It allowed me to be lazy and not give my writing the all that I could possibly give it. Because I could always say, "Yeah, I'm working on a book."

I also knew that if I succeeded in being published, I'd have to bear a lot more responsibility. I'd have much more work to do, deadlines, less leisure time (I sure was right about that!). But being "almost an author" allowed some of the fringe benefits with not nearly as much effort.

And of course, if I didn't really give my book the all I could give if I REALLY focused on my craft and worked at that story, then I also had a convenient excuse when my manuscript was rejected. I could always say, sure it was rejected. But it wasn't my best work. To really spill blood and guts into the manuscript and send it out there…that would be to invite the ultimate rejection with no safety net.

But, you know what? God doesn't tell us to bring safety nets. Yeah, I know, when Abraham took little Isaac on that little walk up the mountain, God provided the ram in the thicket. But He didn't tell Abraham that. Still Abraham trusted God to provide the lamb.

If you feel a love for writing, a passion for it, I can't help but believe it is because God placed that passion there. Say you've been called, say it's God's plan for you, phrase it any way you want. But do it. And not only that, do it well. Whatever it takes--creative writing courses, joining writer's groups, paying for professional critique, etc. DO it. Give it your best--your VERY best effort. Flush the fear down the commode. Yeah, you might fail. Yes, you will probably get rejected--maybe dozens of times. And yes, you just might succeed, and it will be more work than you can possibly imagine. But if God called you to do it, do it.

Oh, and…get an agent.


Anonymous said... nailed me Wayne! It's been my fall back for years.. . "I'm working on a novel that I hope to have published." You're right. It enables me to go ahead and write when I want, as a hobby and not a job. But I want it to be a job. And I'm afraid of it being a job. Around and around and around I go.

Thanks for laying it out so very clearly.

WayneThomasBatson said...

It was my life for the better part of 13 years. And even still, now that I am published, I still wrestle with the desire to be lazy and write when I feel like it, rather than when I ought to.

But being around other Christian writers, even online, is like iron sharpening iron.

everlastingscribe said...

Makes sense to me, I mean the fear of the unknown is the greatest fear in the human heart. I know what it is to be unpublished and that's not frightening anymore. Now, being published and responsible for words set on paper and what those words might encourage others to do when read, and then having to stand before Christ and give an account. *gulp*

WayneThomasBatson said...

uh...thanks, Scribe. You trying to give me a nervous twitch? ;-)

everlastingscribe said...

Can't help it, I went to Ireland as a missionary in part because of B. J. Hoff's "Song of the Silent Harp" and "Sons of an Ancient Glory". She's got a real gift for writing about the Irish, and I know Christ used her fiction to kindle of love of those people in my heart. Tales have power, and even more so when you offer them up to the King of Kings. Let's see, anyone we know who did that, and in the dedication of his books too for all to see? ;)

Unknown said...

It's encouraging to hear a published author express the same fears that I've experienced. Although I am self-publishing for my family and friends, there are many moments when I am afraid of success. Thank you for the encouragment.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Thanks for coming by, Michelle. Self-publishing can certainly be the start of something. Look what happened with Christopher Paolini and Eragon.

Astral Pen said...

I actually did self-publish once, but my plans to promote my work fell through. I just didn't have the time, at the time. I think it's better for me,for now, to try the regular route of publishing. Plus I do need to revise my earlier work. I've learned a lot since then and I want to put my best foot forward!

- Jason

WayneThomasBatson said...

Good thoughts, Jason. And I think that captures the double-edged sword of self publishing. It can work if you have the time, energy, and re$ources to promote it. If you gain enough momentum, you can get a distributor, and maybe get it into big chains, etc.

The other edge is that self-publishing can be seen (by traditional publishers) as a sign of low quality. It can actually work against getting your book read by a publishing house.

Amy Browning said...

Thank you so much! I honestly haven't been able to narrow down the source of my fear until reading this particular post. I've been able to realize recently that God must've put the desire to write in my heart because it's almost all I think about anymore. It is amazing to know that the fear of success can be so overpowering and limiting.
I write when I feel like it, because to me, if it's a "hobby" then it's safe. I'm not opening myself up to the criticism I'm convinced will befall me. I always refer to it as a "dream" to be published, but I know deep down I will probably end up pursuing that very thing vigorously.
It's actually funny to me as I let this soak in. It seems silly, yet makes so much sense. Thank you for your honesty about this. It has honestly made a huge difference in my perspective. I know God has plans for me that I could never anticipate. I guess I just have to accept them before they're revealed to me.