*cue spooky organ*
No one is safe…
If you are like me, this is the time of year when you don’t watch movie trailers. I don’t want to see the pale face man/woman/child/grandma/doll looking back through the screen, sneaking steadily closer with dissonant violins ready to assault me with loud horrific chords. I don’t want to consider paranormal, extraordinary, hypothetical creepers waiting for me to go into a forest, get in a car, run up the stairs or turn off the lights.
However, even I can’t deny the power of fear.
Fear is what encourages caution when we are walking through an unknown area in the dark, the intuition to hold our breath when we hear something uncertain, the desire to turn and run from something big, unknown, loud, with sharp teeth.
Hollywood would have us think that fear is loud, sudden, explosive. But I think more often than not, fear is quiet. Sometimes it is the memory of a bad experience, the disappointment that accompanies us putting ourselves “out there” – whatever that may mean. Sometimes it’s the echo of a previous bad encounter that makes us pause before making a decision, wondering if the same unpleasant consequences will happen again, if that same hollow heart feeling will surge back with a vengeance.
There is a necessity to acknowledge fear. It is, after all, a survival skill. And, when it comes to our characters, determining their fear can often provide insight into who they are, what motivates them, what stops them in their tracks.
Does fear make a character stop when he/she really needs to run?
How many walls has a character put up because seclusion is safer than facing the unknown?
I know, it’s easier to talk about fear in the context of our characters – we can see them with reasonable objectivity.
But how often do we justify our own stagnation because of fear of rejection?
How often do we pass the opportunity to pitch, query, submit, or even write because we might screw it up, because we can’t get it right?
How often do we let our cursor blink…
because we got some feedback that hurt…
and we are scared it might happen again?
We need to take heed that we don’t give fear more power than it is meant to have. Writing some bad words won’t cost us our lives. Getting uncomfortable feedback doesn’t mean our ultimate demise. And hanging out with our manuscript on our computers may feel safer, but it is the most dangerous because we are giving fear power.
Now, you have to understand that a week ago, I was completely and totally surrounded by this fear. I’ve been working and working and working on my book since 2013. I received some rejections that would make a form rejection a welcome change. And I’ve had queries, pitches and contests that have rewarded me that which I fear the most – silence.
I sat staring at my computer, at what was coming up, at what I wanted to do and just wondered if I could withstand more rejection. More silence.
All that, though, is not nearly as scary as the fear that I will have quit before I reached a dream I’ve dreamed about for years. So I borrowed some courage from my CPs, and hit submit.
And I’ve lived to tell about it.
Tasha Seegmiller is a mom to three kids and high school English teacher in Southern Utah. She writes contemporary women’s fiction with a dash of magic. Her loves include Diet Coke, owls, chocolate and cinnamon bears. She is the managing editor for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association quarterly newsletter.