As of Wednesday, August 1, I began writing a novel.
I’ve been wary to discuss my novel-writing venture here for several reasons:
1) I am afraid that I won’t finish it and I will look like a jerk
2) I am afraid that I will write a really bad one and I will look like a jerk
3) I am afraid that other people will think it’s a silly thing to do and I will look like a jerk
4) I am afraid that I won’t finish it and I will look like a jerk
Yeah, numbers one and four are the same thing, and the beginnings and ends of those sentences are all the same. It’s a neat kind of cube of fear and embarrassment I’ve got going there, right? I guess that’s what this whole month is about. Standing up to all of that fear and embarrassment, and trying to say, “I don’t care about you, I’m going to do this anyway!”
A lot of my life has been dominated by fear, as I’m sure a lot of people’s lives are. I remember that I didn’t use to have a fear of rejection. There was a time in my life when I would walk up to a boy and ask him to “go out” with me like it was nothing. Of course I got shot down, a lot. Looking back I think the fact that I was asking for what I wanted like it was a stick of gum (which at that time was basically “will you sit next to me in the cafeteria and maybe hold my hand sometimes”) made guys run faster than if I had peed myself in front of them.
Somehow, over the next couple of years, years that included high school and college, I grew a rejection skin, like another layer, and it was more sensitive than my normal skin. Even though I was always “outgoing” or an “extrovert” that rejection layer felt deeply.
This rejection skin that teenagers sometimes grow keeps kids from raising their hands in class, or going out for the football team, or from auditioning for the play. Sometimes that same skin keeps those kids from applying to the school out of town because Mom and Dad say it’s going to be too expensive, even though that kid has worked hard enough to get a scholarship.
I’m trying to shed my rejection skin. It’s painful, and it’s slow. There are a lot of deep-seated fears that hold on to this layer. Writing this blog is one way that I’ve been able to conquer some of those fears and make my writing public. Finishing this novel will be another way to conquer the fear: the fear that I’m not good enough, or can’t see a project through, or that I have to be perfect the first time and every time. None of those things are true, but that doesn’t mean the fear doesn’t grip me like a python in the middle of the night.
How do you shed your fears? Do you help others keep their fears at bay?