Friday, February 8, 2008

Fear and the Neurotic Writer

Fear and the Neurotic Writer

Writers face fear every day. Fear that the current book won't be as good as the last one, fear that it won't sell, fear of bad reviews, negative fan mail... Most of all the fear that I'll never be able to do this again. The list goes on and on. Fear and uncertainty are the writer's constant companions.

It's not just writing-related fears. This week I found myself wimping out of a promotional opportunity because it would take me out of my comfort zone. Now I don't mind speaking in front of a group. In fact, put a microphone in my hand and I'm a happy camper. I know that will sound strange to many of you, since fear of publish speaking is one of the biggest phobias around. I think it's because I've always been such a wallflower. In a group, I'll be the one fading into the wallpaper. But when you're the speaker, suddenly you're the center of attention, and I just don't see the downside to that.

Face-to-face promotion is something else entirely. I'm fine talking to other writers about point of view or some other technical subject, or introducing strangers to the joys of reading e-books. I really enjoy showing my readers and sharing my enthusiasm for the technology. But don't ask me to toot my own horn and tell you why you should buy my book. Suddenly I'm the shyest person around, and normally I don't have a shy bone in my body. So I don't mind being the center of attention as long as I don't have to sell anything.

I recently downloaded a sample of Arianna Huffington's latest book, ON BECOMING FEARLESS to my Amazon Kindle. The book is about women and fear, and it sounds really fascinating. One passage struck me in a personal way:

"...ironically, the woman who appears well adapted my be the one who has simply become most comfortable being governed by her fears, while the 'neurotic' one is still gamely struggling to reach fearlessness."

This paragraph really resonates with me. The writing business seems to make us crazy, if we weren't already nuts to begin with. I used to think of myself as fairly well adjusted -- until I started writing, then I became a card carrying neurotic, and I still am.

So now I don't feel quite so bad about being neurotic. It means I'm still trying. And who knows? Maybe I'll work up the nerve to tackle that missed opportunity.

In the meantime, I'll be speaking to the Cactus Rose RWA chapter in Las Vegas next weekend on Point of View and having a wonderful time.

Lyndi / Linda


Debora Dale said...

What a great quote from Arianna's book! It's grounding in an odd way. Like saying it's okay to be nuts sometimes because it means you're fighting for what you want, not sitting back and letting the world go by. Wise words. Thank you for sharing them!


Linda McLaughlin said...


I'm glad you found the quote meaningful; I certainly did.

Thanks for commenting. :D