Monday, July 18, 2011

Letting Go of Fear

A lifetime ago, in advanced placement English, I wrote a compare and contrast paper on the feminist philosophies of Madonna and Gloria Steinem, complete with required quotes, properly cited and sealed with a kiss.

I received a high percent A, and my teacher, beloved enough that she influenced my future career choice, read my work aloud as a representation of an exemplary job.

I made up the entire thing.

Quotes, magazine articles, and the inner thoughts of celebrities were all fabrications of my own imagination.

Young and a little arrogant, I was able to turn in that travesty of an assignment because of my utter confidence in the words I put onto paper. I believed I could weave something out of nothing, something beautiful and believable.

Now I find myself hesitating over the publish button. I agonize over submitting posts to BlogHer in hopes of becoming syndicated. I quake at the thought of query letters or attempting to find freelance work or supposing that anyone would value my work enough to pay even a penny for my thoughts.

Before finding The Red Dress Club, I hadn’t let anyone read my writing in years.

Here, I’ve found support and encouragement and friends. I’m writing, stretching, editing, writing, reading, critiquing, writing, tentatively rebuilding my confidence.

Here, I’ve found writers who make my mascara run down my face in laughter and in tears, writers whose words leave me speechless in their beauty, writers who bring back that familiar fear: Why do YOU think you can do THAT?

Fear kept me from beginning this post. What could I possibly share about writing?

I can share that fear guarantees my work stays locked in my computer, unread and unpublished.

Fear hides my words from readers, readers whose eyes see the beauty and whose ears hear the dissonant, readers who push me when I am stalled and lonely and uncertain.

Fear sneers that I have wasted too many years burying my writing to try to bring it to light now, surrounded by the presence of better, more talented, refined writers.

Fear keeps me from being rejected three hundred and forty-one times, but it also keeps me from a single, glorious acceptance.

Fear convinces me that I am the only “writer” who feels this way.

Fear drives me to put writer in quotation marks.

Confronting that fear, shoving back, leaping over it is the only way I’ll have the chance to find out if writing as a career is even a possibility.

Overcoming that fear will allow me to think of myself as a writer – without the quotation marks.

I’m ready to offer up my written words for public consumption.

I’m ready to actively seek out freelance writing opportunities.

I’m ready to hear the countless “no thank yous” and the rejections implied by the silence of no response. Because without those, I’ll never hear a yes.

(And, regarding the falsified paper referenced at the beginning of this post? I faced karmic retribution in my sixth grade language arts job, when my students used Google, cut, and paste to really show me how to fabricate a paper.)

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

Do you have yet unrealized aspirations for your writing? What is holding you back? Are you ready to move forward towards your goals?

Our guest host, Angela, blogs at Tiaras and Trucks.

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