Monday, November 21, 2011

Feel the fear and do it anyway

So, I'm feeling a little beat-up this morning.

I submitted my Project #2 to the Baker's Dozen contest a few weeks ago... and found out today I was not selected.

I suppose this could be considered my first rejection as I haven't really gotten into the query process yet.

Am I disappointed? Certainly.*

...although I am interested in the battle of wills currently playing out in my head between my larger analytical-response-side and my smaller emotional-response-side.

In general, I always distrust that emotional-response-side of my brain. Right now it's telling me I suck. To quit, that it's time to give up, that I've been wasting my time on something I will never achieve. It's laughing and saying I'm an idiot for telling people I tried... 'cause now they know I failed.

If I had listened to that side in the past, I would have accepted my dyslexia as a wall I could never overcome. I wouldn't have worked my butt off over the years to not only read/write at a normal level, but to excel (yes, still working on the *excel* part.)

That emotional side says, 'be afraid.'

The analytical side says, 'fight back.'

Time and time again, I distrust the emotional part of my brain and focus on the analytical side. This could be the main reason I can't get into stories that have a heavy romance element or a lot of the higher-fantasy type stories. I need the facts. I need to be convinced.

But that analytical part of my brain is what continues to prod me, to poke a sharp stick into my soft, white-underbelly and tells me to throw off the chains of self-loathing and do something. Do anything.

The point is, 'do'. Not 'try', 'do.'

So what can I do? Well, most things in life we have no control over, so worrying about them is not only a waste of time, it's self-destructive.

In this case, I have control over my words, over my story, over my reaction, and over a million other little things.

So, since I know I get a 50/50 love/hate reaction to Project #2 (half love the fairy-tale-like opening, half tell me to chop out all the description and get to the point), the biggest, most productive thing I have control over today is playing those odds.

What am I going to spend today doing? I'm going to research agents and I am going to send out queries. 10 is the number I am committing myself to.

Curling up into a ball and whining about it isn't productive. It is only going to make me feel worse, not better. It's a lose/lose response. Sure, maybe Project #2 isn't ready to send out yet... maybe it isn't good enough, maybe I'll get form rejections back from every query I send out...

...but if I don't do it, I won't know. I will be held up, not by failure, but by fear of failure.

...and the thought of that disgusts me. To be so crippled by fear that I would not even try in the first place.

One of my husband's favourite sayings is, "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

It would be a fallacy for anyone to claim that they don't get afraid at times. The point is to recognize when fear is the only thing holding you back from doing something.

So, what are you afraid of today? What's getting you down, holding you back and making you want to curl into a warm blanket and hide away from the world?

Say it with me... "Feel the fear and do it anyway."

*I think I went into this with higher confidence than usual because I was one of the September Secret Agent winners... so again, another example of how this particular story can get the 50/50 love/hate reaction :)


  1. I didn't get chosen either, and I'm having a similar reaction (sort of).

    It is my first finished piece, really - and I think it is probably the weakest idea out of any of my stories. I chose to finish that first because I wanted to get it out of the way. I wanted to stop thinking about the characters and put a finished piece on paper, for once.

    So, I am waiting until post-Holidays. In January, I will be submitting. Until then, I'm giving myself some time to finish my NaNo project (which I am very proud of) and hopefully my third project (which will be a part of a trilogy). So, no time crunch or pressure for me.

    But I feel what you're feeling. Disappointed, sure, but I know that even if this story doesn't get published, I have two other ideas that are noteworthy.

    And from me to you, I've always liked your writing - I know I have no clout in the publishing world, but I am glad that your decision is to press harder, instead of pulling back. :)

  2. Ah yes, my friend fear. You already know I'm afraid my stories suck, that the voice isn't authentic or engaging, that my words are just words, not stories. But, because of your incessant (in a good way) prompting, I'm working on another NaNo and trying to not allow that little voice that tells me I suck to talk to me. At all.

    And good for you for going out there and querying agents. Good luck and all that.

  3. I'm so so glad you're not giving into the fear, I love your writing.

  4. I spent the day - and the days before - writing a scene for my devil series. It is damn good. I know it.

    You know how much I admire your writing. Remember all the famous folks - and there's a ton of them - where it took many many rejections before an acceptacnce.

    this was a contest? One never knows the criteria. It's not you. It's them.

    i have to go out and get some air. Your determination and strength is obviously an incentive to not only me but many of your friends.

    go get them!!!

  5. Damn :( And yeah, shove the emotional side aside and tell it to screw off :p

    Orca does YA, though I've never read any of their books so I'm not sure what genres they like.

  6. Also, a great comment (By Neil Gaiman) that can help:

    It does help, to be a writer, to have the sort of crazed ego that doesn't allow for failure. The best reaction to a rejection slip is a sort of wild-eyed madness, an evil grin, and sitting yourself in front of the keyboard muttering "Okay, you bastards. Try rejecting this!" and then writing something so unbelievably brilliant that all other writers will disembowel themselves with their pens upon reading it, because there's nothing left to write.
    Because the rejection slips will arrive. And, if the books are published, then you can pretty much guarantee that bad reviews will be as well. And you'll need to learn how to shrug and keep going. Or you stop, and get a real job.

  7. Great quote by your hubby.

  8. You most certainly DO NOT SUCK. Please don't give up. I've read some of your writing and been extremely impressed. There will be naysayers. They are always there. You need to ignore them as they are voices that will kill your ambition. Keep improving, keep trying, and you WILL HAVE the success of your dreams.

  9. @ RA Desilets

    See? You've got an active plan in the works :) Good for you! Project #2 wasn't my first completed work, but it was the first work that felt complete. Does that make sense?

    @ writeidea

    Yup, I'm a nag. Doesn't it make you feel better that I nag myself far more than I ever nag you?

    @ Sarah Pearson

    ...thanks, and I look forward to the day you send me yours ;)

    @ prerna pickett

    Thanks :) I'm pretty stubborn. I may give into self-doubt/etc, but when I look back on what I've managed to accomplish over the years, it always spurs me on to try again.

    @ Sue

    Thanks :) I managed to send our 5 queries yesterday. Since I've never actually done any research/etc, I was surprised how long it took! I spent ALL day reading and reading and reading... and was so tired by the end of it, 5 was all I could manage.

    @ alcar

    hahahahaha! Yup, I don't wallow very long. I think it was about 20 minutes before the analytical side of my brain started beating me and and telling me to get my butt up and *do* something.

    ...and considering the jobs I had in the past, really, this is a tiny hiccup. I totally recognize that. It was a moment of defeat, nothing more. I've had worse ;)

    @ ladonna watkins

    Yup, that's about the most, uhm, empathetic thing he says ;) I probably would be nearly so stubborn if he wasn't there.

    @ Michael

    Hahahaha, no, I don't truly believe *I suck*. Though I do readily understand that the particular style of this particular story does get that 50/50 love/hate response. But I write in different styles, different types of stories, etc. It's the same thing when I was doing animation. You have to be able to draw/build characters in a number of different styles. The more varied your work is, the more you grow creatively. You can't just stick with the one style that comes *easiest*.

  10. Your fighter's attitude will take you far. And the thought that you are providing a special GIFT of a story. What do I fear and fight? I'm about to launch my YA thriller and it frigging' freaks me out! But it's too good to hide away. It belongs out in the light of day. The slogan that helps me the most, is take the right action and turn over the results.

  11. @ Catherine

    Wow! Congrats on the launch!

    ...and that is a really interesting way of looking at it, that you are providing a special gift of a story.

  12. On my 14th (?) query rejection. Not to mention all the queries I sent with no response. It is most definitely daunting and terrifying . . . but if you want to get anywhere, you have to do it. "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway," the title of the famous book by Susan Jeffers, has long been a source of inspiration for me, both the content of the book and the title by itself. Getting out of your comfort zone, i.e. selling your stories, is a darn scary thing to do, but nothing will come of it if you don't try. So good luck on your next submission and I hope its sooner rather than later.

  13. @ Karrie

    That's really interesting, I had no idea there was a book with that title. My husband got the quote from one of his university professors.


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