Fear and Celebration

I began writing about 3.5 years ago. From the moment I began, there was fear.

The initial fears were along the lines of What will everyone think? Am I crazy? I’m not a real writer. I’m making myself look stupid.

Then I hit a milestone. I got published. By a very, very small online story database. But hey! Then I got a poem in a religious magazine. A revision request from Highlight’s!

And I celebrated!

For about five seconds, before tossing all of that behind me and setting my sights on a new goal. A bigger Yes! A better publishing gig.

And I hit other milestones.

I finished the first draft of my first novel. I wrote a picture book that wasn’t completely awful. I wrote my first short story and it was actually good and it was published in an anthology!

Then came the fear. Nobody will like the short story. It will make people mad. I’ll never be good enough to revise this novel. It will never live up to my vision. I’m not good enough to write a novel. I’m not a real writer.

But I kept writing, even as the fear and the voices telling me I wasn’t good enough and I never would be kept whispering. Even as I thought maybe I was a little bit crazy. Even as I worried I was wasting my time and there were more productive things I could be doing.

I hit other milestones. An article accepted by Highlight’s. My picture book published by an e-library app. Getting my first novel accepted into Pitch Wars. But the thrill faded into even more fears.

Your mentor hates you. You’ll never be able to fix this. Nobody will buy that. All the agents in the agent round will wonder how you got in. You don’t belong here.

But in the end, Pitch Wars changed everything. Not because of the competition itself, but because I got to join a large group of other writers and watch their journeys up close and personal. And I saw that cycle of fear and milestones continue to repeat over and over again no matter where they were. Whether they were querying, landing an agent, going out on sub, getting a book deal!

This year, some of them will see their first books published. These are huge milestones. But I also get to hear their fears. Their worries. I get to see that reaching that next milestone I’ve been longing for is not some magical happily ever after. It’s just another milestone that comes with new anxieties.

But this year, as I achieve a milestone I’ve been pursuing for the last three years, I’m not going to let fear get back in my head so soon. I’m going to take the time to revel in the beauty of the big moments. To look back on my journey and see how far I’ve come. I’m going to push aside those whispers that I’m not a real writer. That I’ll never find success. That all of it will come to nothing. And I’m going to celebrate.

But beyond celebrating, I’m going to finally believe. Believe in myself. Believe in my work. Believe that success is a possibility for me. That it’s within my grasp. Believe that I am a writer. Believe that my words are important.

The fear will never go away. But I’m going to try not to let it sit shotgun anymore.

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