Twenty-two weeks after the second day of the new year
Author is pleased to say that the frustrating week she told you about in her last post was just that, one week. She has returned to work, gladly so. Yes, there would be some related tasks to deal with in the coming weeks, but aren’t there always? Author will do her best to maintain some sort of separation between them and her writing hours, her work on her next book for you. She’d better. She’s nearing that “Okay, I need to focus now. Everybody go away!” stage of her work.
But that’s not what Author wants to talk to you about this week. Something else is on her mind. She wants to talk to you about fear. You see, a few days ago Author happened to look up online the books of an author she spoke with, and was surprised to see that that person published just one book, some years ago. He is doing other things he likes and is good at, but, by his own admission, he has since been trying to finish the draft of another book he had wanted to write, unsuccessfully so.
This stuck in Author’s mind. That single, forlorn publication date, the considerable length of time that has passed since, and that look in that person’s eyes, the disappointment in his words, when he spoke about himself as an author. Not only did it stick, it stubbornly remained lodged in an uncomfortable place in the forefront of Author’s thoughts. In a sense, she was looking at a fellow writer’s failure.
This made Author think about something she normally tries very carefully to steer clear of. Fear. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not being able to write the next book—having no ideas or no idea how to take the story where you want it to go in a way that would make you feel that it is good enough, interesting enough, appealing enough for your readers to read. And the fear of putting a book out there that won’t sell no matter what you do. It stands to reason that most—if not all—authors have these fears, all the more so newly published authors who are putting themselves out there for the first time. And that’s fine. Anyone who does something she or he loves and wants to succeed in it, who hopes to be able to do it for years to come, wishes for success while struggling with the fear of failure.
The fact is that you should have no illusions when you take that first step on the path to becoming an author. No road you ever take is assured, this one included. Yes, you might fail. So? Try again. You think the authors you look up to haven’t failed in some way along the road? Everyone fails at some point in her or his life. Everybody falls. Those who get up, learn from their mistakes, and try again, those who are willing to put in the work, they are the ones who have the best chance of succeeding.
As in all realms of life, you need to decide what’s important to you, what you want to invest yourself in. You want to be a published Author? Go for it. Is your success assured? No. Of course not. But then, is it ever, in anything you do? And are uncertainty and fear reasons not to try? No. The thing is—and this really is no cliché—one day you will look back at your life. Don’t you want to know that you did your best? That you put an effort into what was important to you? That you tried?
And then, of course, there’s that other question. The other side of the coin. What if you don’t fail? What if you are able to write the next book, and the next one, and the one after that, and each time you are able to look with pride at the work you’ve done? And what if you do succeed as an author, if you have readers who look forward to your next book? What if you’re able to do the writing you love for the rest of your life?
Which brings Author and Sister to this week’s tip for the writers among you: if you love writing, write. Put in the effort, and put your books out there. You’re afraid? Everyone is. They do it anyway. So can you. Now get to work.