After all, my historical romance novel has been in pretty good shape now for months. I should be querying. But I’m holding off, working on other stories and devising new ones. Why? I tell myself it’s because I want to see how I do in the contest I’ve entered first, and then armed with that feedback, I can polish my MS one last time before subbing. But is that the real reason? No. As strategic and prudent as it may seem to wait, I’m just using that as an excuse not to take the next step with this project. The big one. The soul-crushing one.
I’m avoiding the inevitable rejections that will come my way once I send my MS off into agentland. I’m afraid of my dreams of writing a book becoming real. Because then the book becomes a responsibility. No longer can I tuck it in a drawer or push it to the back of the closet and pretend it doesn’t exist. I must own this process – the good and the bad – if I want to succeed. And unfortunately, there are no safety nets.
So as I fretted that I was responsible for holding my work back, I came across a post this week that echoed my concerns. Shonna Slayton’s post at Routines For Writers called “Don’t Reject Yourself” was basically a brief but powerful pep-talk on eliminating procrastination and getting your work out there. Digging a little deeper, I found the post “Things Procrastinators Fear” with links to in-depth discussions on fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure, and fear of not being good enough and ways to combat them (all of which are worth a look if you are struggling with any of these issues). Now, I don’t necessarily think I'm procrastinating so long as I am still working on other writing projects, but I must acknowledge that all the different projects I have on my plate do divide my attention and keep me from moving forward. How convenient.
I realize I’m not alone in my fears. That’s why we blog, swap stories, spread encouragement, and foster community among our ranks. But it’s hard to push past the inertia and get your stuff out there. That’s part of the reason why I started this blog. To get my feet wet in a public forum. It’s also why I joined a new writing group, so that I would be working alongside others on the road to publication. Other writers to be accountable to; other writers to help me set realistic goals; other writers to support me on my journey. And it does help.
I may still hold off querying my MS until I have the results of the contest, but I won’t let anything else slow down the process. And in the meantime, I have other pieces I need to submit. It’s time to get out there. My fingers are crossed.
Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org