Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I'm a fearful person. I don't want to be, but I am. As most of you know, I went to the lake with my family last week. Considering we hadn't been on a family vacation in five years, it was a big deal. We all had a great time, but I realized fear takes some of the joy away from me. As our car wound around curve after curve on the tiny, two-lane highway, I gripped tightly to the armrest and held my breath, sure we were going to spin out of control and end up at the bottom of the embankment. I refused to ride any of the roller coasters at the amusement park because I just knew the car would lose momentum and come to a halt, leaving us hanging upside down for hours. (This really happened at Worlds of Fun. I've seen interviews with the girls it happened to. They were traumatized for life.) Instead, I sat and prayed for the rest of my family to disembark safely. Every time they returned, grinning from ear to ear, I regretted not having rode it with them. As my kids swam off the dock, I nervously waited for something bad to happen. After all, the sign did say: SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK. What's that supposed to mean? Snakes? Yeah, definitely, snakes. This one I was right about. My husband swears it was a fish bite, but it sure looks like fang marks to me, and I seriously doubt there were any vampires swimming around down there. Okay, okay, I'm getting to the point. Fear holds me back in life. It also holds me back in my writing. I did this post about me trying to decide which WIP to work on--the sequel to my first novel or a stand-alone project. I really want to be working on the sequel, but my fear that the first one will never be published is holding me back. Well, I faced that fear yesterday, and I dove into the sequel head first. It felt good, and I realized it doesn't matter if the first one gets published. I'm just writing for the pure joy of writing. What fears hold you back?


Anonymous said...

Fear of flying holds me back. I do it, but it takes a lot to get me on a plane.

I have a procrastination problem with writing, but I don't think it's fear.

Terri Tiffany said...

This is so funny--not that you have fears but as I read this--I thought--didn't I just write this post this morning--I did --in fact it is coming out as tomorrow's blog. I have been saying What if to life--a fearful what if instead of just doing it! You are me!!LOL but starting today, I am just doing things! Glad to see you jumped in. You will get published eventually! If you do the hard work to get there.

Deb said...

Congrats on starting your sequel! I think it was the best thing I've done and being a sequel it's helping me see what needs fixing in the first one. Good luck writing!

I find the older I get the fewer fears I have. The fear that something will happen to one of my loved ones never goes away.

Stephanie Faris said...

Fear of failure. Although they say fear of success is actually what holds us back. We fear that we'll succeed and others will see the weaknesses we see in ourselves.

Lillian Robinson said...

I understand. I also have a fear that no one will think it's good but me, and it will never be published. Every time I read through it, I think it's good and it's just my lack of confidence. We'll see. Maybe someday I'll have the problem you have... Sequel or new?

Good luck with the sequel!


Corey Schwartz said...

Great post, Susan. I grew up in a neurotic Jewish family. When I was little, my mom actually told me before going on a trip, 'Don't worry. Dad and I are flying on separate planes!"

I think my goal is not so much to rid myself of my fears as to not pass them on to my children. Someone has to break the cycle!

Amber Lynae said...

That is a strange looking bite.

Fear is a hard thing to overcome and it does suck the fun out of life. I'm glad you decided to start the sequel. I am sure you feel somewhat liberated by it.

I also want to thank you for the blog award. I just haven't gotten around to posting on my blog yet.

Susan R. Mills said...

Strugging Writer,
Hmm...fear of flying and procrastination. Sounds very familiar!

I can't wait to read your post tomorrow. Great minds think alike, right? :)

I find the older I get, the more fearful I become. I'd like to put an end to that.

Yes, I've heard that about fear of success. Maybe it's true.

I am sure everyone will love your writing as much as you do. Lack of confidence is a huge part of my problem, too.

I love that idea about not passing fear on to your children. That is a great goal for me to also pursue!

I know. Definitely strange looking. I still think snake. And you are so welcome for the award. It was well deserved.

Kelly H-Y said...

I've noticed that same fear ever since I had children! There's something about wanting to protect them that has caused it to build up in me! I attempt not to let it show ... with varying degrees of success! :-) Great post ... very thoughtful. And, good luck on your sequel!!

Roni Loren said...

Hmm, swimming vampires, I wouldn't rule that out.

But with the fear, I'm right there with you. I'm always the family member waiting at the bottom of the roller coaster waving at everyone else having fun.

And I, too, had the sequel debate. I ultimately decided to start something completely different while the first book made the rounds. So, feel better, there's an even bigger chicken out there than you. : )

Janna Leadbetter said...

I'm fearful, too. I worry, worry, worry. All those scenarios you described would be going through my head. I've gotten considerably better over the years, but there's room for improvement.

Rae said...

Fear can be so crippling and disabling. I am an introvert and it is hard for me to carry on a conversation with people. I feel like I don't have anything worthwhile to talk about. My writing is my outlet and my voice. I can write and write for hours and let all the those words trapped in my head go out through the end of my fingertips.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Good for you, starting on the sequel! I used to do stuff like that, too. I'd say, well, I shouldn't work on this because it's not a popular genre, or I SHOULD work on that because it's what everyone was looking for. But lately I've been writing strictly for the love of telling the story.

J.R. Johansson said...

Congrats on getting started. For me, fear of over-editing holds me back. I don't feel like I have a firm grasp yet on how far is too far.

Unknown said...

I never saw myself as "afraid" until my wife encouraged me to seek life as a published writer. It's a large confusing and fearful sea...or rollercoaster.

Susan R. Mills said...

The need to protect is definitely part of the fear factor, isn't it?

Fiction Groupie,
I don't think you're a chicken. You're just realistic! And, swimming vampires, well, yeah, I suppose it's possible. :)

I've gotten worse over the years. I'm not sure why. Maybe, like Kelly said, it's about the kids.

Keep on spilling your guts on the keyboard. It's a great outlet!

I realized I can't write unless I love what I'm writing. Great point!

I have that editing problem, too. In fact, I just read on an agent's blog (I don't remember which one) that you shouldn't over edit before submitting because it comes across as being stale. That really made me think.

Thanks for stopping by. You're lucky your wife is so supportive!

Anna C. Morrison said...

That fish bite looks painful. Congratulations on starting your sequel. I'm scared of two-lane highways and roller coasters, too. And of success, and writing, and being happy. But it's worth it to combat those fears! Go You!

K. M. Walton said...

You did something pretty huge actually, you took one of your fears head on and told it to shutup. That is big. The only way we humans tackle our fears is to do just what you did - face it head on and take away its power.

Your sequel is going to be fantastic. You know why? Because it is going to feel so satisfying to write it.

Excellent, excellent, excellent.

p.s. I'm on pg 93 of my new WIP and still loving it to death

Susan R. Mills said...

My son said it didn't hurt, but it looks bad, doesn't it?

K.M. Walton,
Your post from yesterday actually inspired me to move on to my sequel. So thank you! Glad you still love your WIP to death! :)

AiringMyLaundry said...

I get fearful when I'm not sure how my novel will end. I STILL don't know. I try to write it out but it's just not coming to me and I'm all, "Um. Okay. So I'm 147 pages into a novel and I don't know how it's going to end???"

Faith said...

Fear of not being good enough... I want to say that's the same as failure, but I don't think so. I have this fear that I'll succeed and be found out as a sham... like "how did that woman get published, she's crap!" and I think that holds me back. It's bizarre and certainly unfounded at this point, but there it is.

All the best with your sequel!!! And my goodness, that bite is insane...

Patti said...

I totally know what you mean. I have often missed out on doing something because I was afraid. I'm trying to get over it.

I did a post a while ago on fear of failure and someone mentioned that they were almost just as afraid of success, which I thought was interesting.

Susan R. Mills said...

Whispering Writer,
I didn't know my ending until I wrote the last page. Keep writing and it will come to you.

Thanks for stopping by. I have those thoughts, too.

A couple of people mentioned fear of succes. And you're right, it's very interesting.

Karen M. Peterson said...

Okay, that picture cracks me up!

Fears...so many. My main fear in life in general is of rejection. This goes for everything from the work I do to finally finishing this novel so I can get the queries in the mail. If I don't finish, then I don't have to be universally rejected, right?

Mommy Grits said...

I love your posts! I am so glad I found your blog. I love to write also, it is my therapy and has been since childhood. After my daughter passed away I wrote about 75% of a memoir. Sent it off to an editor, and two years later it is still sitting on my desk waiting for me to complete. Fear of rejection keeps me from finishing it. Lately I am realizing it doesn't matter if the manuscript is never published but it would be good to complete for my remaining children's sake. Someday they could read it and go "ah ha! so that's why she was so looney!" Look forward to reading more of your blog, now following!!