*stands up and awkwardly shuffles my feet, avoiding eye contact* “Hi. Um–MynameisJessicaandIhaveafearofSocialMedia…and failure.”
WHEW! There! I said it! Isn’t it always the first piece of advice anybody gets when they say they’re afraid of something? FACE IT HEAD ON. Yeahhhh……this is me diving head first into my fear. Please have patience with me while I flounder about my kiddie pool of insecurities with my arm floaties. It won’t be depressing though or an emo monologue of ME ME ME, WAH WAH WAH. Promise! Because I’m sure that whoever reads this, if anybody ever reads this, has been where I am now in some form or another. Facing fears is hard and we should celebrate the bravery it takes. Let’s swim together, shall we? A burden shared is a burden halved. Now, on to the meaty stuff.
I decided to start a blog because I want to be a writer. A published one. And like all good little nublet writers, I scoured the internet for all the tips and tricks to giving me an chance of making that dream happen. WHOA MAN. I was overwhelmed by all the information and technical jargon that went into writing. Voice. Characterization. Subplots. Emotional Arcs. Voice and Themes and Backgrounds, OH MY! And that was just writing the actual book. That was part of the struggle of just putting words on paper for the novel itself. Then over and over I came across terms like “Author’s Platform” and “Social Media”.
Since when did authors need to promote themselves and be….SOCIAL? Don’t they have publicists for stuff like that? I mean, I’m SURE Stephen King just popped a manuscript out from under a darkened doorway and agents fought to the death to publish it, right? That’s SO how it happened! And then after his fifth book or so there was a book tour, and magically, he was a best seller. *nods* Yes, this is exactly true. Absolutely.
Not it’s not.
2016 is the year of Social Media. Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, Snap Chat, Facebook, dear GAWD it never ends! But with paper books being phased out in lieu of Kindles and E-books (a tragedy to hear since my favorite smell is fresh ink on paper), the only way now to make yourself known is through some sort of social platform. All the blogs say so, funny enough. Get yourself out there! Be social! Interact with your potential fans and promote yourself!
No. No No. I’m a hermit by choice! I have a very small group of geeky friends who accept me, warts and all. They tell me when my writing sucks and I believe them because they’re saying it with love. Perfect beta readers already in place! Ha. Hello Jessica, I’m the Real World. Let me welcome you with a slap upside the head. THEY not going to buy your books. (Cuz they know they’ll get them for free anyway.) Really, it’s up to the readers of the elusive BLOG to support my charming yet clumsy self. I understand this. I do. But ugh. Blogging? I don’t even READ them regularly. I don’t sign up for e-mail updates! I recently cleared out 10K messages from my main e-mail, some of it from 2011. Yeahhhh…..Plunk, click and go is my computer know-how. But to be a writer, this is what I’ll have to do.
To understand my choice of being an anti-social hermit though there is a need to know the reasoning behind WHY. I’m sure you’ll understand and nod in sympathy. There’s just so many reasons to fear this little box of text being sent out into the internet ether but my top four are here:
- I’ve been teased my whole life for having big boobs and a crooked eye (also called Strabismus.) Also, I was a smart ass with straight A’s, which was uncool then. Self-esteem and self-confidence have been at an all-time low since Middle School. Yes, I’m a 30 year old woman admitting this. Points for bravery and honesty.
- I’ve never stuck with anything for any length of time. Hobbies, exercise routines, schooling, career choices. The devil really is in the details. I seem to lose interest whenever I have to delve below the surface of any given thing. Ugh. Who has time for details? Pfft! Let someone else work that out. The Big Picture is all you need! HA!
- I cry over everything. Seriously, everything. When I fight with my husband about movies, when I see cute bunnies on the TV, when I see a particularly stunning painting…EVERYTHING. But those are just the GOOD things. Imagine the bad things, like criticism and deliberate malice delivered by a sharp-tongued stranger who doesn’t know my soft heart at all. Oh yeah. Total mess. Rejection is hard for me to accept and I know diving into this, there will be a lot. Which brings me to my final and biggest fear…
- Fear of Failure. WHOOOMP there it is.
“Sometimes the things that matter the most to us are the hardest things to actually do. Sometimes they matter so much that we never do them, because our fear of failure is stronger than our fear of not even trying.”
I cried reading it, naturally. It was EXACTLY how I felt. I would rather live with the regret of never knowing what I could have been, than fail at the biggest dream of my life. I just wouldn’t have the strength to try to rebuild myself after the crushing disappointment.
There are thousands of posts out there that talk about this and I understand that there are other authors/ agents/ bloggers out there facing the same issues. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I had the courage to finally take this step. Like, who is ever going to read MY blog amidst the thousands? I’m SAFE!
No matter how fearful I was, there was always this kernel of stubbornness burning in my belly that never let me give up. (Even on math, which I loathe to the core of my being.) It didn’t let me give up on Harry Potter, even when I threw “The Half-Blood Prince” across the room and dented the cover. It didn’t let me give up on my marriage (best accomplishment EVER). And I know that even when things look bleak and when I’m glaring at my computer, wanting to table flip the whole thing and say FECK THIS, the kernel will pull me through. This tiny ember isn’t done with me yet. It has a huge Voice and it has a lot of things it wants to say, that it NEEDS to say.
I WANT TO BE A PUBLISHED WRITER! it declares.
If that means I have to write in a blog twice a week and talk to people and get fans in order to get a literary agent to consider me for a book deal, then I’m going to do it. If I have to start reading and following other blogs to see how the Pros do it, then I’ll carve out time from my schedule to do it. If I have to publish my writing here first to develop a thick skin and writing savvy, well then I damn well better do it, shouldn’t I? Whiny brat. Grow a pair!
I WANT TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO WRITE!! it shouts.
Liz Gilbert’s book “Eat Pray Love” did this for me. I had a panic attack for DAYS after reading her book. Random crying, shuddering, uncontrollable shakes, the works. My husband grew concerned with my emotional outbursts and gave me wide-eyed looks as I cried over the dishes. It was the first time anyone had understood the fear and frustration of being in a life they weren’t happy with. But she found it. She forgave herself her flaws, embraced them, and found balance in her life. Liz allowed me to see a different way and I hope one day I’ll be able to tell her how much her writing meant to me at that time in my life. I want to be that for somebody. I want to be the reason they change for the better. Maybe they’ll even write a book…
I WANT TO MAKE MY MARK! it says.
One of my all-time favorite lines is in “P.S. I Love You” (the movie) when the main character Holly is describing what she wants to do with her life to Gerry, a stranger she met walking. She quotes William Blake: “I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.” To this Gerry simply replies “You want to paint socks.” OH MY FECKING GAWD! YES! Whether it’s a work of art or a book or a jar of barbecue sauce, I want to be remembered by more than just my friends and family. (That sounds selfish doesn’t it? Or pompous? Aiee yaahhh….) I Just want to carry out my legacy from beyond my death bed. Even if it’s just ONE book, or ONE piece of art. An imprint of ME on the world. Something I made and put out there and then THERE IT IS.
Pesky little bugger. It disturbs me uncomfortably when I’m chillin’ down in the dark pit of NOT KNOWING.
So, at the end of all things, after the back and forth tug-o-war, I have to ask myself, is my fear of failure going to stop me from pursuing my dream? If I stumble and fall, will I pick myself up again, try harder, and let the kernel speak for me? The fact that I’m starting this blog gives an answer. I hope people read it… Nope, never mind. Don’t read it.
Fine. Read. Reply. Comment. Help me with my fears and I will find a way to repay you in kind, one way or another. And I will help myself by getting used to the words “YOU FAILED.” I’ll say it every day and have people say it to me and maybe I’ll get a thick enough skin to endure this journey with some sort of grace. I may even take my arm floaties off 😉