The Fear Who Would Be King
“Everybody walks their own path. These paths may touch, they may intersect, and they may even merge for a length of time. They will never, however, be exactly the same path.”
I have a confession to make.
I’m afraid of becoming a published author.
I’m afraid of what will happen. I’m afraid of what it will mean.
I think I have a variance of graphophobia.
Considering I’m trying to become an author, these all may serve as some serious roadblocks.
When I was about twelve years old, my middle school class took a trip to an ice skating rink. I had ice skated before, but this time the ice was different, felt different – more icier. All of my classmates bolted onto the rink with little hesitation, but I couldn’t move. I sat on a bench for nearly three hours, watching even the most timid and clumsy of students cackle as they slipped around in front of me.
Several times I stood up. Several times I sat down. There wasn’t an encouraging word from my friends, the teachers, or any sympathetic strangers that could get me off my laced feet.
When the final whistle rang for everyone to collect their things and file back to the bus, I hadn’t even taken a step towards the ice. I untied my skates and returned them to the check-in station, and I went and sat at a window seat near the front of the bus while my friends laughed and cheered over the fun they’d had. My depression was deep, but nothing matched the disappointment and confusion I felt for myself.
Throughout my life, I have lived hesitant to try anything new and exciting. My friends and family have driven into experiences headfirst and supported the philosophy that, if it didn’t kill them, it would make them delightfully stronger. I’ve watched them with admiration and pride, but I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t say that a thread of envy didn’t stray into the seams of my emotions.
Everyone has a part of themselves that is tender and sacred. To expose that is to give your heart, your soul to the world and let them pass judgment. You have no defenses. You must take the assault full force. It’s painful and frightening, and you can never be sure just how you will feel when that part of you returns from the frontlines.
For me, my heart is my writing. It is the characters that I have cultivated over the years, the plots I have devised. It is a half-breed elemental alien with a mental handicap that keeps her from reaching her full potential. It is a magic cop who trusts nothing but her own abilities and holds a pack of playing cards like a five-year-old would a teddy bear. It’s a grown woman who avoids facing the past and chooses instead to make candy. Lots and lots of candy.
The process of publishing is simple enough whether it’s through a traditional publisher or self publishing. You write the book and submit it. If people like it, they read it and, if you’re lucky to have it as an option, buy it. If they don’t like it, they won’t read it. I can handle all of these steps, no problem – except for the one that probably matters the most:
Submit = Heart and Soul Exposure.
Funny. It’s not until writing just now that I realize that the ice skating and my writing are producing the same type of terror within me, and why.
I wanted to come out perfect on the first go.
Since I had been one of the only children who skated prior to the middle school trip, I had stuck myself in a pompous hole by boasting of my past adventures to anyone who would listen. I truly expected myself to float like an Olympic champ, performing back extensions and triple axles with ease.
(Okay, I knew I wouldn’t be doing all that, but I did expect more than clenching the sides of the rink, especially since I had done that on my first time already. Years ago. But time didn’t matter.)
When I discovered that the reality of the situation would leave me flawed and exposed as a fraud, I cowered and could hear nothing but my own shame-ridden taunts.In my mind, I was perfection and would accept no less. Unfortunately, reality is not based on my mind.
I was once told that I have a fear of success.
“Fear of success?” I scoffed, throwing my head back and guffawing. “What a silly notion. Who in their right mind would have a fear of success?”
A lot of people, actually. More than I would have ever believed. The fear of actually gaining fame and fortune, rising in social status, and losing your identity within some grander, more revolutionary scheme. And that’s not even mentioning the pressures of a repeat performance, thus doubling all of your previous attainments.
I wish I could end this post solidly with the wisdom of a new day clearing my worries and making me ready to commit to a permanent change in attitude. But again, that’s in my mind. This is reality.
I’m scared of not achieving what I want. I’m scared that I’ll never do enough. I’m scared my ideas are stupid. I’m scared that I’ll never escape this cycle of self-defeatist behavior.
It’s like standing in the middle of a cave with no light. You may find the exit to freedom, or you may walk off the edge and into a 100-foot hole with spikes on the floor. You can either stand in the same spot until you die, or you can throw caution to the wind, choose a direction, start walking, and pray for the best.
Translation: Brandee? Shut up and keep writing.