|And don't you come back!|
I've boiled down why, and what I'm left with is the same cold, black lump of coal that virtually every artist faces at one time or another: Fear. Little wonder. Each foray into marketing, each query letter, synopsis, or partial I send is another invitation for disappointment and rejection. Another chance for someone who doesn't know me -- and who knows only the barest details of my work -- to proclaim that it isn't good enough.
As I look at the black lump before me, however, I'm reminded of the auditions portion of American Idol.
Although I try not to watch the auditions (I don't find the "funny" ones to be entertaining at all, and I simply can't stomach the potty mouths), I always catch at least one that shreds my heart. One trembling soul whose confidence is so battered their throat constricts and their breath comes in gasps. Sharps and flats never composed by the songwriter riddle the performance. The singer may have the voice of an angel, but it can't find its way past the paralyzing Fear.
Afterward, in the hall with Ryan Seacrest, they shake their heads and sob, knowing they could have grabbed the golden ticket to Hollywood if not for Fear. Watching, we know it, too, and mourn along with them for what might have been. What hurts so much is that they did it to themselves, and they know it. They gave Fear mastery over them, and it killed their dream.
The Bible says that Fear comes from the devil. Franklin D. Roosevelt said that all we have to fear is Fear itself. His wife, Eleanor, said that "you gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look Fear in the face."
They're all right. Along this journey I've faced Fear in many forms. Fear of killing the dream by daring to try for it. Fear of letting others read or critique my work. Fear of entering a contest. None of these frighten me any more. I looked each Fear in the face and it slunk into the darkness. I trust that this one will too. And so I will take my lump of coal, set fire to it, and use it to light my way as I quest for publication more boldly than I have ever dared before.
Will I be wounded? Almost certainly. Will I triumph? Only time and talent will tell. Should I fail, though, I vow this much: The opponent that lays me low will not be Fear.
What about you? Have you ever let Fear stand in your way? Do you have a favorite strategy to stare it down and defeat it? Now is your chance to share. Remember, there's strength (and courage) in numbers. Together, we can send Fear packing.
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