Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Foundation of Fear

One of the foundations of fear is a poor image of self.
Fear and poor self-image and writing are a frightful ménage à trois. “Master your fear” is a pithy phrase for this kind of fear. Self-image issues do not need mastery--they need elimination. There is no bargaining with a poor self-image. Like a terrorist, it only deserves ire and elimination. Stomp on it first, and then address the causes.
The causes of poor self-esteem are legion, as are the effects of fear on writing. Nevertheless, with a little bit of knowledge comes a lot of understanding. Take the query process, for example.
Fear of rejection is an honest fear having biological roots. We are genetically pre-disposed to fear rejection because rejection, not too long ago, meant death. Literally. On the evolutionary scale, rejection was starvation. Hyperthermia. Hypothermia. Being eaten.
But ah, the query process! How can one fear agent forty sending out a rejection, when one was rejected by the prior thirty-nine? After a while, it becomes an intellectual challenge and a test of tenacity (hopefully not stubbornness with a side of whoops).
Repetition is a great fear killer. Writing is a creative endeavor. Eliminating a poor image of self is difficult as the writer rallies against subversive forces both within and without, but creativity flourishes in the absence of fear. Even writing about fear is easier, as once can see it for what it is.
Thus one of the answers to fear, fear of rejection, fear of snide comments, fear of hurt feelings, fear of not getting there, is perspective.
A ferociously yucky animal did not eat you today. And that makes today wonderful!


  1. Yes, not being eaten is pretty awesome.

    This is an interesting post about fear. A very entertaining look at not only fear itself, but the definition and history of fear in human beings.

    As for the idea of being rejected almost forty times by agents, I think it is tenacity really and not stubbornness.

    I like the idea that repetition is a "great fear killer," because that's very true. After getting used to something like rejection many times, one gets used to it and is no longer afraid.

    Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Write on!

  2. I like this one Anthony, particularly the bit about the biological basis for fear. I'm a fairly straight forward kind of gal and this says it like it is.

    I won't tell you how many rejections Guardians got before it was picked up. Let's just say it was more than a few. I could have given into my fear any time along the way. Now that the book is nearing that oh-my-god-how-is-this-actually-happening launch date, I find myself interacting with all new fears: How is that phone conference with my editor going to go next week, will it be next week or will I be kept in suspense for another two? Will people even buy my book? How am I going to feel about the negative reviews when they come---honestly?

    Truth is, fear is part of the game. You can't shrug it off entirely, but you *can* do what you suggest and that is walk right on over it. You still know it's there beneath your feet, but you tread on anyway. Good post!

  3. Thank you for your comments!

    I am surprised no one has taken me to task for posting that REALLY SCARY FISH. I mean, look at that thing.

    Actually, I can't look at it. It scares me.


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