Today I had a quote on the board in my classroom, “Fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.” – Steve Maraboli. One of my students turned to me and asked, “What are you afraid of?” It was a fair question since I had asked them to be honest with themselves and determine what their greatest fear was. Without hesitation I answered, “failure.” Writing scares me, too, and I didn’t include that in my answer.
Writing scares me because of my fear of failure. If that could possibly make any sense. For instance, I got an email from a decent sized publication asking me to submit op/eds for them. It’s not a paying gig, so don’t get too excited for me. The email came some time in December. I still haven’t made a submission. Today, I got an email from the editor asking me if I was interested in submitting something to them. She was just following up, she said.
It’s a tremendous opportunity for me as they will advertise my books and other events within my byline. Yet, I’ve been reluctant to send anything to her. There are several reasons. She wants the pieces to be in Associated Press style, and most of the “examples” she sent were news related. And, when I went on their site the only pieces I found were directly related to the news. I don’t even watch the news. I have no idea what’s going on pretty much anywhere unless I hear it briefly on Moody Radio on my ride to work, or someone posts something on FB.
I feel unprepared to write Associated Press (AP) style pieces on topics I have little to no interest in. Aside from the fact I don’t write anything in AP style. I am not educated in that form as I don’t technically have any real, formal, writing education. I simply write what moves me. And, that doesn’t seem like what they are looking for. Yet, she contacted me out of the blue. I have no idea how she came across my name, or anything. So, that tells me there’s a reason, but I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll send something and she’ll reject it and that will be the end of that opportunity. That somehow, I will screw it up.
Just this week someone told me that I needed to actively pursue my writing “business” ideas. Hesitation from the fear within me is so great I can’t even begin to explain it to you here. As much as I love writing and especially writing about Jesus and the Bible, I never feel “good enough” to actually do anything of real, financially lucrative, value with it. I always assume that I can’t write the way that paying publications seek. I can’t write AP style; I don’t have a journalism degree. And, in fact, bombed the one journalism class I tried to take years ago when I thought I’d actively pursue a writing career.
Yet, here was this email asking me if I was going to contribute. I didn’t want to leave the editor hanging, so I sent her two titles that have been floating around in my mind. Of course, I haven’t written either piece, but they have just been stewing there as possibly intriguing concepts. I didn’t think she would accept them as “good enough” because they don’t come from a news basis. Believe it or not, as I sit here writing this, she just emailed me and told me that she really liked one of the suggestions and said that I should go for it.
Writing scares me. Now, I have agreed to work on this piece this weekend and I am terrified that she’ll hate it. That it won’t be what they are “looking for.” Rejection equals failure in my eyes and it’s really hard for me to pull myself back up when it comes to my writing. This has been such an integral part of my life, like, my whole life. I have been writing since I was a kid. I have been praised and belittled for it. I have had it published and have literally had it thrown into trash cans as a means of punishment.
Writing scares me because it is such a huge part of me on a page. It’s the most honest and transparent view of my heart that most will ever see and that gives it great power in my eyes. Some writers are able to write for the sake of writing. They are little phased when one piece is turned down. They just pen a different one. For me, each rejection is another crack in my soul. Writing scares me.
Which is kind of funny because in 2010 I heard God, quite clearly say to me, “Write. Why do you keep running from it?” I responded, “Because I’m not good enough.” And He replied, “It’s not what it looks like, it’s what it says.” And yet, I steadily run from it. I don’t pursue writing opportunities in paying Christian formats due to that heinous, “not good enough,” belief within me. But, if I’m speaking to myself as I would a friend, I’d say, “If God says you’re good enough, if He says you can and should do something, then guess what, you can and should!”
Maybe I need a dose of my own pep talking wisdom? So, here’s to an attempt to publish in a Christian format that gets 15000 views a day. Pray for me!