This post by Alison Kent should be required reading for all writers!
We talk about fear of failure, but I don’t think we consider fear of success as often. Think about authors you know whose success has meant losing friends, suffering excessive professional jealousy, sacrificing long lazy hours of family time and spending the same touring, signing, pimping. *g* Many authors are private people, hermits of the worst sort. Success puts us into the limelight, but if you believe all the publicity blogs out there, we give up that privacy the minute we sell a book, and we become promotional machines.
Sure, it's easy to say you'd have no problem, boy, if only that NY house would call you up and offer you a contract. But, as Alison discusses in her post (the Fortune quiz made my jaw hit the floor — so much of that I could say yes to), the fear of success isn't that simple. What if you get the call, but things don't turn out the way you thought they would? What if you sell the book, but lose the drive because you no longer have a goal to strive for? Sounds silly, but anything's possible. (No, I doubt I'd lose the motivation once I had the contract, but that was one of the examples.)
I am good at self-sabotage. I've sabotaged myself for the last two years with this Master's degree. I should have finished it a long time ago, and now the absolute deadline is staring me in the face and I'm sweating and straining and working my tail off to get it done. Oh, I will get it done, but at what cost to myself?
And what about writing? I've used the MA as an excuse for years now. I keep telling myself that when I finish the thesis, I'll have all this wonderful free time to work on my stories. But, you know what, I'm afraid I won't. I'm afraid that without an academic deadline, I'll piddle around with the stories, tinkering, tinkering, tinkering and never quite perfecting them (I'm a Virgo, and that's bad, bad, bad when you want to finish something).
Not that I haven't written in the last couple of years. Of course I have. I found my voice when I moved to Hawaii, for various reasons. I finished one novel, half of another, saw my work published in several local forums. I've designed a workshop and presented it at a conference. I'm slated to give another workshop, with two of my RWA chapter buddies, in October at a local conference.
But I've got some things I should have accomplished that I haven't. I'm not going into detail because it will only make me feel worse.
And that hermit thing — oh yeah, that's me. I'm not shy after spending many years married to an extrovert and learning how to mingle, but I so DON'T want to read my work aloud to strangers on Wednesday. I'll do it, and I'll live through it, but the suffering will come not from being in front of people (I can handle that) but from sharing something so personal (my work) with them. I'd rather they didn't like me and loved my story than the other way around. Is that weird?
Fear of success? Self-sabotage? Gone any rounds with these insidious beasts?
Found you via Susan Flemming.
So timely to read this today, because things are slowly becoming successful for me and I just want to give up and go to bed. Part of the success means you have to maintain it and if you don’t know exactly what you did to reach the goal, it’ll be hard to do it again. Plus the pressure of always being on point, makes people expect more of you.
I’ll be thinking of you when you have to read your work aloud. Hopefully you will feel fantastic afterward. Good luck.
I have finally found that I just have to do this for myself. (Of course, I am not in the successful area yet)… But, just before I started to get myself published regularly, I became ill with the WGs. ?so maybe it was self-sabotage on the molecular level?
Anyway, I try not to stress out. And I do what feels good to me. That is all I can do.
Hi, Flood! Thanks for commenting. 🙂 I think you are spot on about the maintaining success part! I think this reading thing tonight is small, but at the same time I don’t want to do it now. It’s not because I’m afraid of the people (as I said before) but what if it’s not what I expected it to be? Nothing ever is, of course.
Or, maybe I’ll get euphoric from the experience and want to do it again. Thing is, I know I HAVE to be willing to do it again, especially when the goal of selling a novel to a major NY house happens. (Thinking positive there.) 🙂
Congrats on your own success, and I sympahtize with the urge to hide beneath the covers.
Hey, Cyn! It does seem like when success is around the corner, something happens, doesn’t it? Your WG would have derailed you no matter what, though. I’m just glad you’re getting back into it and finding your way again. 🙂