For those of you who have asked, I’ll share a quick health update before we get into today’s guest post…
Some of you might have heard about my emergency surgery a few weeks ago, which removed a re-infected chunk of my jawbone. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing if the surgery removed all of the infection this time, and antibiotics alone haven’t been enough.
So this time, my surgeon and I have been doing All. The. Things. to try to fight whatever might be left of it. Many of you gave suggestions (Thank you!), and we’re trying most of them.
Considering how problematic one of my antibiotics was/is, I’ve been willing to try just about anything. While that antibiotic is very good at getting deep into bone, it works by changing the vascular structure of cells.
Its side effects on my body have ranged from difficulty breathing (after just a couple of steps) to pulling muscles, tendons, and ligaments just by sitting (yes, really). There’s not much that can make you feel quite as pathetic as pulling your shoulder when simply unplugging something from an extension cord. *sigh*
Anyway, now that I’m off all the antibiotics, I’m hoping those side effects will fade, but it’s all a (very) slow process, and it might be years before we can say for sure whether the infection is gone. In the meantime, my wonderful friend Jenny Hansen is here, helping me out with a fantastic guest post.
(And if others have guest posts they’d like to share and help me out during this long, difficult recovery, send me a note through my Contact page. Thanks!)
Most of us suffer from self-doubt, and today Jenny’s sharing her insights about hanging on to our writing dream through all the doubts and fears. Please welcome Jenny Hansen! *smile*
Enemy Number One of the Writing Dream
by Jenny Hansen
Dreams are a funny thing. Some nightly dreams fade in the morning rush and some scorch our consciousness forever. Then there’s the waking dreams. Dreams that are really wishes we keep tucked inside our hearts as we journey through our days.
Writers excel at these waking dreams. We chase them every day as we put our fingers to the keyboard. Waking dreams are our constant companions—so real we can see them, so fragile we worry they’ll break.
I watched Tangled the other day with my daughter. She loves the music and the movement and will sit, mesmerized, through this whole story of Rapunzel. This particular Disney movie rivets me too, and do you know why?
Tangled is about dreams.
Chasing them, the fear of achieving them. . .and the wistfulness of letting old dreams die. From the beginning of the movie, when the dreaming baby is stolen, through songs like “I’ve Got A Dream,” Disney is punching this dream theme home.
There’s a scene just before the end of Act 2 that perfectly describes the funny, capricious nature of dreams:
(In the boat, Rapunzel sighs)
Flynn Rider: (noticing the look on Rapunzel’s face) You OK?
Rapunzel: (whispers) I’m terrified.
Flynn Rider: (softly) Why?
Rapunzel: I’ve been looking out a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what it might feel like when those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything that I dreamed it would be?
Flynn Rider: It will be.
Rapunzel: And what if it is? What do I do then?
Flynn Rider: Well that’s the good part, I guess. You get to go find a new dream.
This scene sums up why so many writers trip over their dreams:
Reaching for your dreams is scary.
It takes some serious nerve to lay your heart open and shout to the world, “This is what I want more than ANYTHING.” To throw your “all” into the fray and reach for a dream takes guts and—something I struggle with—patience.
Because dreams don’t happen all at once. They take baby steps forward, twists, turns, and diagonal crossings up one-way streets. Dreams take time to achieve. LOTS of time, which is a commodity most of us are short on.
This fear hides in all kinds of strange disguises—fear of failure, fear of success, fear of public embarrassment, fear of Spanx…
Oh. That’s just me. (Seriously, have you ever tried to get out of those suckers?) *shudders*
Why is it scary for so many of us to do this thing we love? How does our traitorous psyche manage to kick our butts so soundly?
Because we worry.
We creative types worry about the darndest things! And we often allow that worry to defeat us. Chuck Wendig wrote a post over on TerribleMinds where he nails this phenomenon: Writers Must Kill Self-Doubt Before Self-Doubt Kills Them. (Run and read that, all worry-warts…we’ll wait!)
So what do writers worry about the most? An informal Facebook survey showed these as the Fearsome Five:
- What if I write the book and nobody buys it?
- What if I write the book and everybody buys it…can I be that brilliant again?
- What if I can’t meet the deadlines of a publishing contract?
- Who would want to read what I have to say?
- When I say what I have to say, they’ll know who I am.
Writing is personal. Super personal. For most artists, if our work is found wanting, it feels like we are being rejected too.
How is the worried artist supposed to cope?
I am a huge fan of titanium panties.
Seriously, just strap on your Big Girl (or Boy) Titanium Underpants and do the next thing. For myself, if I stop and think about the fear, I’ll hyperventilate. I have to keep going, even if I work on something different than the thing that’s scaring the crap out of me.
What have I observed other writers doing when things are in the crapper? When rejections roll in and plots stall, when blog posts bomb and the WIP rises up like a scary beast?
- Friends and family are great when the going is rough.
- Some days wine is a requirement. Ditto for chocolate.
- A supportive critique group is amazing.
- A writing network is priceless. This could be your local writing chapter, online groups like www.SheWrites.com or NaNoWriMo. Maybe you’ll like Twitter communities like #myWANA, #ROW80, or #1k1hr.
Dreams are important and scary and real. Chasing them is the hardest game in town. But we are WRITERS. We’re not sissies. Certainly we’re not quitters.
We have morning coffee, writing pals like Jami Gold and Janice Hardy, and Titanium Underpants. We’ve got this.
About Jenny Hansen
By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes news articles, humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.
(Note from Jami: If you’re not familiar with it, the Writers In The Storm group blog offers lots of great writing advice!)
Thank you, Jenny! This whole post applies to me on so many levels (fear of failure and of success? *raises hand*). Fear can hurt us and our dreams in many ways.
For example, we talked about fear #4 (“Who would want to read what I have to say?”) in regards to feeling like a fraud. That fear might hold us back from marketing or promoting our work or a dozen other ways.
But, wow, #5 of the Fearsome Five list (“When I say what I have to say, they’ll know who I am.”) really resonated with me. Like many, I want people to like me, and we can fear that if people knew us—really knew us—they’d discover how flawed we are and not like us anymore.
I can’t even imagine all the ways that fear might hold us back. Maybe we decide against meeting people in real life at conferences or book signings. Maybe we stay away from social media where we’re supposed to be ourselves. Maybe we write less-risky (and less-authentic) stories.
However, Jenny is right. Sometimes the best way to get over our fear is to find ways to not think about it. We can stay busy and work on the next thing, and we can not let the fear paralyze us. *smile*
Does it scare you to chase your dreams? Which fear resonates the most with you? How do you deal with the fearful part of chasing dreams? What do you do when it’s time to make a new dream? Jenny would love to hear your thoughts down in the comments!Pin It