Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fear

The notes from my latest round of beta readers are starting to come in, and as I’ve spent the last few days going through them, I’ve realized that I’m a lot closer to the end of this revision than I am to the beginning. And that realization has filled me with one thing.

Fear.

Fear that all these agents will end up saying no. Fear that, after all these months (and almost years), Bob still won’t be good enough. Fear that, after years and years of writing, I’ll be right back where I started.

It’s irrational, I know. On the one hand, I can see that I’m closer now than I’ve ever been before, that the writer I am now is a hundred--a thousand--times better than the writer I was three years ago. And I know that the changes I’ve made and will make to this latest draft of Bob are the changes I needed to make. But on the other hand, I worry that it still won’t be enough, that published books all have some special, secret Something and I’m still trying to figure out what it is.

I probably feel this way precisely because Bob is so much better than anything else I’ve ever written. I’ve invested so much time and energy into this project that I really don’t want to believe all my effort’s been for naught. The other day, Honey Bear said, “It’s like you’ve got nine slow pitches coming at you, and they’re all right across the plate,” and I replied, “Exactly! And I don’t want to mess them up!”

I like to think I’m not the sort of person who is paralyzed by fear--that I’m the sort of person who attacks it--but this revision has definitely made me slow down, take a step back, and think things through a little more. With these pitches coming at me nice and slow, I definitely want to take my time to swing.

15 comments:

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

That's a great analogy, Krista. It's an easy thing to think that you're not ever going to get there or that you are missing some magical something that will catapult you over the last hurdle. The thing about hurdles is that you only make it over them when you practice, practice, practice, and you have done that. You'll do great. (Another sports related analogy for you.)

Anita said...

Krista, love the baseball analogy. Thing is, odds are on your side to hit the ball all the way out of the park this time.

You've been in the writer's equivelant of a batting cage for the past several years. And now it's time to put all of that practice to work for you. I'm betting on an over the fence slam-hit homerun this time! Good luck, girl. :)

Ru said...

Good call - there's nothing wrong with fear, sometimes it makes you more deliberate. Good luck with the revisions :)

Pam Harris said...

My motto is, if I'm not a little anxious about whatever I'm writing, then I shouldn't be writing it. :) Great post--and good luck!

Liesl said...

Oh, I FEEL your fear. I really do. But you're a writer Krista, and that means you'll keep writing no matter what. It's an act of faith. You know, the whole "But if not" philosophy? You got it.

Michael G-G said...

Your honesty is inspiring. I'm rooting for you.

Ben Spendlove said...

Yeah, what is that special, secret Something? I think it's that thing no one can define but everyone calls Voice. But there's also Luck, as in being able to reach the right Audience. I may have to write my own blog post.

Jeanmarie Anaya said...

Awww, don't be afraid! Be proud!!!

Good luck wrapping it all up!

Krista V. said...

Kayeleen, I do feel like I've been practicing this whole writing thing for a long time. I'd like to think that means I'm ready for the big leagues, but we'll see. (Wow, we're all just full of sports metaphors today:) )

Anita, thank you for your enthusiasm. You should be a coach. I imagine you'd give great pep talks:)

Thank you, Ru. I liked how you called it deliberate and not just slow:)

That's a good motto, Pam, in writing and in life. I've found that arrogance and overconfidence are usually indicative of an underlying sense of self-doubt. Much healthier to recognize your shortcomings and strive to improve them, methinks.

Liesl, you're right - I don't think I could stop writing even if I tried:) If this one doesn't work, there's always the next manuscript (and in many cases, the next one, and the next).

Thanks for your comment, Michael. I appreciate your encouragement.

I look forward to reading that blog post, Ben!

Thank you, Jeanmarie! Your enthusiasm is inspiring.

Kristine Asselin said...

Just keep on swinging. As Dori says in FINDING NEMO "Just keep swimming!" You'll get there, you just have to believe. I'm a shining example of that--never give up. :)

Bethany C. said...

If you weren't scared--you wouldn't care. Like a good parent you're nervous about sending your baby off to kindergarten.

It's going to be better than okay--it's going to be GREAT!

Krista V. said...

Kris, your story is an inspiring one. Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you, Bethany. Your comment made me smile, especially this line: "It's going to be better than okay - it's going to be GREAT!" I sure hope that's true:)

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Good analogy, Krista. And I definitely understand where you're coming from. When I feel that fear, I try to look at my books in terms of progress. Have I made more progress with this book?-- ie. received more good feedback, more partial/full requests, and so on. That really helps me to keep perspective and not get too down on myself. Not to mention that every book we finish and revise helps us grow as writers, which you mentioned. Keep up the good work, my friend! You'll get there.

Amy

Darke Conteur said...

You wouldn't be human if you didn't feel a little anxiety, the key is not to let it control you.

I don't know if you've queried anything before, but if you haven't, get a hold of that fear now, because nothing will send you into a nervous breakdown faster than the first query letter. I wandered around my home for an hour, trying to calm my nerves, before I finally hit send. I'm not trying to be mean, just a little forewarning. Good thing is, that anxiety does return to normal levels very quicky. :)

Good luck. I will be waiting to hear your progress!

Krista V. said...

Amy, that's a good measuring stick. My request rate for my first manuscript was somewhere around 2%, my request rate for my second manuscript was somewhere around 15%, and my request rate for Bob has been significantly higher than that, so I guess I'm still improving.

Darke Conteur, I know what you mean. Bob is actually the third manuscript I've queried (and I've already sent out around 50 queries for him), and it's definitely nerve-wracking. I've never been terribly afraid of failure, though, so I try not to worry about it too much:) (Case in point: I ran for student government seven times in junior high and high school and never won once.)