Friday, April 16, 2010

The Fear

By Russel D McLean

The book is gone.

Out of my hands.

It’s a strange feeling. I start to pace the flat. Thinking about when I wrote, “The End,” how I had doubts and anxieties I couldn’t put into words.

I try and watch some TV.

I can’t.

I try to read.

The book in my hands makes me think about all the flaws in what I have just sent out. I know the premise, but did I do it justice? What about all those continuity errors? What about the voice? Is that voice strong enough? Are the characters properly rounded or just two dimensional morons who are more likely to depress the reader than intrigue them?

Have I lost it?

That is the question that haunts every time something goes out. It’s a precarious thing, this writing gig, especially if you want to make a living. What happens if you find that you just lose all the connection with your readers?

What happens then?

What happens if you can’t claw that back?

Lightning in a bottle. Can you capture a cliché like that twice?

I have to wonder.

Over the next few weeks I bury myself in another project. I think, this is better, and worry that I’m right, that what I’ve sent in is the wrong project.

Any use worrying?

Just bury into the new project. Hope for the best.

Days turn into weeks. I attend the day job. Lose myself in other dramas. Keep hammering at the new project. Watch my email and listen for my phone.

My heart hammers when I think about it. I imagine all the worst case scenarios. The most scathing criticisms. I appreciate honesty and yet fear it, too. Especially from someone whose opinion I respect.

These are the worst moments.

Not waiting to hear what the readers think. By then everything is out of your hands. But waiting to hear from editors and agents, all you can think of is: What should I have done to make this better? Are they going to finally see me for the fraud I am?

When the email comes, it says, “Give me a shout and we’ll talk about the project.”

I panic.

Remember all the worst case scenarios.

But it has to be done.

Because the fear and the doubt are part of this gig. Because sometimes, you are going to get it wrong, but its better if someone can tell you that you’re going to. And then there’s that hope – that tiny, tiny little voice of optimisim – that says, you’ve done it before. You might have to some work, but you can do it again.

It’s the quietest voice that always wins out.

The quietest voice that reminds me why I do this. And why, in spite of The Fear, there is nothing else in this world I’d rather be doing.


Eric Beetner said...

You nailed the anxiety of that stage in the game. I need to print this out and read it weekly.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

Yep...I know that anxiety...and I haven't even gotten to the waiting for the reader part yet.