The weekend before last I was given the privilege of teaching a small workshop at my local Romance Writers of America chapter's annual retreat. I wanted something new and a bit different from other workshop topics I'd heard often, since the writers' circuit tends to focus on certain areas (craft, business) and not on others. Say, for instance, the personal and private fears of an author. So of course that's what I chose to talk about. (I like to torture myself that way, ya know. ;) ) http://gamemoir.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/doctor-wait-what.gif
Wait, pause for the smirk. *smirk* Okay, let's get serious again.
What personal and private fears did I talk about? Fear of failure and perfectionism. I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm a perfectionist. I know, I was shocked too, but it's true! I really am a perfectionist, a hard-core one, in fact. And that drive for perfection led to some very real fears when I decided to pursue publishing, the biggest of all being, What if I fail? Now that I'm published, that fear of failure has morphed, not gone away. What if my next book isn't as good as my last? What if my publisher doesn't want any more books? What if my book doesn't perform as well as expected?
What if, what if, what if? It can become like a rat race in your head, literally driving you crazy. That's what happened to me. The "crazy" became so bad I couldn't write. All I could hear were those questions spinning through my head, unending, paralyzing, blocking out the voices of my characters and my love of writing. A problem like that doesn't just go away -- it takes time and kindness to yourself and patience and, sometimes, help from outside sources. But it can be made better. You can learn to deal with it, walk through it. It doesn't have to kill your love of writing or anything else you love to do well.
The number one thing I learned as I suffered through this tough time was this: Failure is not inevitable, but if it does happen, it's not the end of the world. (Again, shocking, I know! :) ) But I learned something else too: Failure can be just the beginning of some very satisfying things. Sometimes we have to slug through the struggles to get where we want to be.
There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this: "Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up." Don't refuse to get back up. Failure happens, but it's not always a bad thing. We don't have to be perfect; we just have to keep trying. That's what I'm striving for this year, to keep trying, keep getting better, keep moving forward. Whether that leads to failure or not, I firmly believe that it's the trying that makes us a success.