You Can’t Write

I am here to talk about fear, my friends.

I always wanted to be a writer. Mostly I flirted with the idea, considering a degree in journalism or writing a scene here or there. And then, I realized I was being a chicken about the one thing I’d like to do most in my life, the one thing that would provide me with, at least, satisfaction of a life fulfilled. I told myself I didn’t have to be a wonderful writer. No one’s a wonderful writer, at first.

And that was freeing, for me. Suddenly, I could write. And if I felt it weren’t great, I could close my eyes, open up a new document (with eyes closed, fancy, right?), and push through it. Three years later, three long years later, I’d written a novel. I put it aside, to distance myself, and started working on new ideas. I had a scary couple of days, where nothing came to me, and I thought, “What if I only had one in me?”

But then it did come, and I wrote pages of notes, and dozens of scenes, and created a spreadsheet. Six months later, I decided maybe I had enough distance to begin editing the novel I’d actually finished.

I’m doing that (as mentioned) and it alternately goes horribly wrong or fabulously wonderful, as writing tends to do. But it’s just about time to let someone actually read it. And this is the fear I speak of. I postponed that paralyzing fear that kept me from writing and now, it’s back.

The idea of sending one page of my novel out there, into the world (or to my friend’s inbox for a beta read), some day soon as a submission, makes me want to curl up into a ball and whimper. I know it’s a first novel. I know it’s very likely nothing more than a learning experience and it’ll end up in a box somewhere. But I’m so afraid of hearing those three words: You can’t write.

What happens if someone, anyone, tells me I’m a terrible writer? I know, in my head and my heart, that a real writer keeps going, keeps writing. And I can’t imagine living a life that doesn’t involve me telling my stories, even to myself. I am in this for the long haul, this matters, and I’ll still be doing it ten years from now, fifty years from now. But, what happens if?

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