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Your WordCrazy hostesses, Michelle O'Leary and AJ Caywood, welcome you to their blog about writing and hope you enjoy the mind-bending mania. Feel free to join in with your own brand of insanity...crazy loves company.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Will You Know Unless You Try?

Fear of failure can be an enormous obstacle. For most of us confronted by an action where the outcome is unknown, it seems that choosing to do nothing is the easier path. At least in that case, the end result and the consequences are known commodities. What if we go ahead with that uncertain action—applying for that higher paying job, changing eating habits to lose weight, making contact with the attractive person we’ve been admiring from a distance—and we fail? Many of us equate failure with being a bad or useless person, but in reality failure is a fabulous learning tool.

I have been a fiction writer for most of my life, but only recently did I consider trying to get my work published. Pessimism and fear of failure worked against me—I believed that my stories weren’t interesting enough or well-written enough to be considered professional works of fiction. What if I sent a query into a publisher and was rejected? Wouldn’t this mean that I was a horrible writer, that my stories were ridiculous and my characters utterly unbelievable? And so I kept my work to myself, only allowing the occasional friend to read a piece in a short burst of courage.

A few years ago, a friend managed to pry a manuscript from my clutching fingers, cannily using my excitement over finishing the piece to finagle a reading. She effused over the novel, which I thought was very sweet and kind, just the sort of thing a loyal friend would do even if the work was ghastly. But she didn’t stop there—she hounded me. “You have to get this published!” she said, and then turned into a scary sort of task master. Under her demanding eye, I queried publishers. And was rejected.

Did the world crash around me? Did I finally see the light and throw out that trash I called writing, giving up the written word for an easier road? Giving up writing isn’t possible, since the creation of new worlds is like an addiction for me, and my friend did not allow me to consider my finished work trash. Under her unwavering enthusiasm and support, I kept trying, learning how to write better queries and considering a wider publishing market. I found an e-book publisher who was willing to consider my manuscript. I became a published author.

Since then I’ve learned so much about writing, revising, editing, and publishing works of fiction, and I’m energized by how much is still out there for me to learn. That e-publisher accepted three full novels and several short stories from me, and I’ve discovered other avenues for my writing, including online article and poetry creation. I have many works in progress and a couple of finished novels that I am attempting to get published in the print market by querying agents and publishers who focus on the printed word. I’ve had a few rejections, but I will keep trying. Fear of failure won’t stop me from reaching this or any other goal, because I’ve learned that failure can only help me refine my next attempt as I rise to the challenges of life.

Peace and Love,