Fear is a bitch.
Writers don't seem to talk about fear much. We're supposed to be huddled in our caves, writing, revising, and praying for the best. Not on Twitter or on our blogs or around Facebook talking about how afraid we are of never writing another story again; of never seeing another of our books on an indie bookstore bookshelf. We're supposed to be grateful for what we've already accomplished and not whine about our fear of the future.
Well, I am a writer and I am afraid.
I am afraid that FML will be a flop. That people won't love Simon and Cassie and Ben & Coop and Stella and Falcor as much as I love them. I'm afraid of what The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley will look like in 2 years. I'm afraid that I'll never finish the book I'm working on now, or that if I do, no one will want it. I'm afraid of Barnes & Noble collapsing, of indie bookstores floundering, of Amazon becoming the only real distribution model for books. I'm afraid that self-publishing is pulling readers from books, and that eventually most writers who hope to carve out a career will have to sacrifice quality for quantity. I'm afraid that this whole experience has been a dream and that one day soon I'm going to wake up and realize I'm a hack.
I am afraid. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.
The greatest weapon against fear is faith in yourself.
When I separated from my first agent, armed with only this book that I worried no one would ever want, I had nightmares for months. As I queried and prayed and got rejections, I feared that I'd made a mistake, that this was the end of Shaun the Writer. When an agent suggested adding a paranormal element to make it an easier sell, I very nearly considered it. But I had faith in the story, and my faith was greater than my fear. I found an agent and sold the book without adding anything paranormal.
There is not one step in this process that doesn't make me at least a little afraid. Covers and queries and submissions and revisions and book placement and sales numbers. They terrify me. They terrify me because I love writing so much. It's what I live for. What I wake up in the morning and breathe for. And I'm terrified of it all going away. But I have faith in my ability, in the brilliance and tenacity of my agent, in the vision and passion of my editor, in the dedication of every single person at my publishing house. And that faith is what keeps me from crawling under my desk and huddling in the fetal position for the rest of my life.
All any of us can do is believe in our stories and believe in ourselves. Because Fear is a bitch, but it can only hurt us if we let it.