Friday, February 11, 2011

Inside Elana: Fear

All right, I'm pulling out the big guns today. Well, not really, but whatever.

Lydia Kang asked: Okay, writing-wise, what is your biggest fear?

Oh, boy. Where do I even start? There are about a zillion things that I'm afraid of. I live on the precipice of fear most days, seconds away from falling--or jumping.

I think, for me, in this whole writing journey, the ultimate fear is of failing. What if no one buys my book? What if no one likes it? What if all the reviews are bad? What if, what if, what if???

And what's worse than failing?

Failing in front of all of you.

See, I've spent the last two years building a platform for myself. I have a web presence. Which all adds up to one cold, hard fact: I can't quietly fade into the night. If I fail, you're all going to know. Everyone is going to know.

And that's my biggest fear. What about you? Writing-wise, what's your biggest fear?

83 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm afraid of that too. But even worse, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to handle all the marketing and writing under deadline with working full time. Because I know I'll have to keep my demanding job and there is no real rest in summer either. I'm really pretty terrified of that. On good days, I tell myself that others are doing it and I can too. On the bad days, I don't say anything positive.

Theresa Milstein said...

Biggest? When I first started writing, just the act of letting myself experience old emotions/hurts, letting the raw me out on the page was frightening. Then letting someone else read my writing was heart-pounding. Letting a stranger critique my work was like jumping off a cliff without a bungie.

Now my biggest fear is not getting published.

Remember, you've put it all out there, so we'll know your successes and not-so-successes, but we're supporting you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I write to inspire, so my biggest fear is not making a difference.

Misha said...

Failing to write my story...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Everytime someone says how much they loved my book and can't wait for the sequel it layers on the fear that the second one is going to suck!

Jonathon Arntson said...

If you fail, I'll fly to Utah, give you a hug, and then tell you to get yourself up and try again, try again.

A. Grey said...

Standing still is the only true way you can fail Elana. And you very obviously are not standing still. You've come, and whether or not you 'conquer' you will always have 'come' and 'seen' and 'done this amazing thing' So you understand, it's impossible for you to ever fail now :) because no matter what, you've been here and you've made a huge difference to us.

As for myself, my biggest writing fear, is that no one will ever give me the chance to fail the way you're afraid of failing. Since I'm still on the hunt for an agent, my fear is that I'll never get one, never get published, never see my book on a shelf, never wince when it gets a scathing review, never get patted on the back by a friend saying 'you've come this far, you can't fail now, you've already succeeded' That's my fear, is standing still forever wondering 'what if someone had taken a chance on me'

Kris said...

You've been such a strong supporter of aspiring authors and you've worked so hard...if there is karma in the world, your book will sell like wildfire.

As far as failing, for me, I'm most afraid of getting soooooo close and not making it. Hope you have a great day!

Renae said...

My fears seem to change as I move through the process. My biggest fear now? Not getting published.

As far as you not being a success? I just don't see that as possible, I mean look at all the support you have. We are here for you no matter what.

AE Rought said...

We seem to have a lot in common. Well, I don't have the web presence you've built, but my biggest fear is, was, and I'm pretty sure always will be failure.

And don't worry, I'm buying your book. I'm going to tell everyone I know to buy your book. If you want to use my group blog for a blog tour, contest, giveaway, what have you, just let us know!

Marisa Hopkins said...

Ah, fear. Always super fun to face fears, right? Yeaaaaah. My biggest fear is that my writing is just too basic and lame to ever get published. Like, it won't matter that I've devoted years to writing - so much time devoted to practice, trying to get better and better and better... but what if I'll just never get better and I'll query and just never be good enough? EVER!

Suuuuuuuuuuck. I hate thinking about sucking no matter how hard I try to get better. Scary.

PS, I'm totally buying your book. And Jon loved it, and I pretty much always love the books that he loves, so I'm pretty sure I'll love yours, too, because he has great taste. :) Besides, he says your writing style is as comfortable as your blog writing style and I love and adore your blog, so you're pretty much a WIN already!!!

Jamie - I'm a guy, btw said...

You nailed it: fear. I wish I could say that I'm one of those people who thrive off fear and use it to achieve their dreams, but unfortunately I let it cripple me and have to really struggle to get over it and try to do what I want - which is why I'm still writing, because I'm scared to death that I won't be any good and I'll never see my book published! (Agh! See, fear crept in there at the end!)

Paula said...

The platform you've built is your community, your biggest supporters, and IF you fail, which you SO won't btw, your blog community won't be standing by watching we'll be picking you up and pushing you forward. So, now that we've taken care of that fear, what else is there?

There's different fears for each stage in this process. For me, I fear that after everything, all the writing, revising, blah, blah, I still won't get that agent. And yes, I write because I love writing and I would still write no matter what, but still . . .

D. U. Okonkwo said...

Fear is one of those things that can get a grip on you if you let it. In the world we live in, fear is everywhere. I think you have to feel it and so it anyway.

Better yet, the only thing to fear is fear itself. As long as you're trying to all all that you can, you'll never have any regrets. And you only fail when you stop trying. That's more important than what anybody thinks.

B.E. Sanderson said...

At this point, I think my biggest fear is that the past seven years were all for nothing. All that time and all those books... wasted.

jbchicoine said...

My biggest fear, writing-wise? Throwing a party and no one comes--metaphorically, speaking...

Jamie Burch said...

I think because you've spread all this awesome author goodness around to all of us, your community, and the rest of the world that even more will come back to you.

We are here to celebrate and support you. Looking forward to that big day! Can't wait to get my copy...:)

Kelly said...

One, I can't see how you can possibly fail. I've heard such great things about your book.
But two, by the slim chance it doesn't sell (very slim chance), your friends all love you for you. Not because you are a best selling author. Because you are so giving with your query expertise, your WriteOnCon conferences and your comments and friendship. So that is always a big WIN.

Tracey Neithercott said...

I think the things we fear as a writer change with us. Right now I'm fearing that I'll never get an agent. After that, I'm sure I'll fear never selling. And then that I'll flop and no one will read my book. Next, I'll probably fear that my second book isn't as good and that NOW nobody will like me anymore.

The good thing is, thanks to your web presence there's already a ton of people clamoring to read Possession. That's better than no one knowing about it at this point.

Emily White said...

That is my biggest fear, too. What if I never get published? What if? What if? What if? And all my failures would be on display for everyone to see.

lynnrush said...

I can see how that'd be a fear of yours, Elana. Writing is putting yourself out there. I consider it a major risk. It's like standing naked in a room where the windows aren't covered.

Freaking scary.

There will be some who love your book and some who hate it and some who are right in the middle. But really, all you can do it put out the best possible product you're able to.

Trust in that. Trust in your writing. It's a God-given talent and you're using it. That's what matters.

Write on, my friend. The road to publication and even the journey after it will be full of ups and downs. We're here with you through it all.

Michelle Merrill said...

Failing to write my story well enough that people can see it just as I do...and then love it just like me :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Failing to see my name on a cover of a book in Barnes and Noble.

Carol Kilgore said...

Not ever writing well enough to sell a novel.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Actually I think you've nailed it. I don't fear that I might never land an agent (boy, that makes them sound like a fish) or that my book might never sell. My fear is if I do land an agent and my book does sell, that it will tank and no one will buy the next one.

Don't worry, Elana. Everyone will love your book. And those who don't are just jealous. :D

Shari said...

This isn't a fear really, but my biggest disappointment would be not making a difference with my words. My biggest wish would be having a web presence like yours.

ali said...

Me (very honestly, though I know I'll sound like a 70's pothead): Wow. That's heavy, man. Really. That is a LOT.

My fear? That I'll never find an agent/editor who believes in my stories enough to give me a shot.

Patti said...

I've heard such great things about your book that I think you'll be hard pressed to fail.

Like someone said, I think fears change with each stage you're in.

Christine Fonseca said...

A) I know that you are sincere in that fear, but B) You so don't need to be. You won't fail unless you quit (Hmm, wonder who taught me that one ;) )... so C) Let go of that angst a little. And don't worry, there is always something else to freak out about ;)

Quinn said...

My fear right now is not getting an agent and getting published. I believe it will happen, but I'm still scared it won't.

Mary Lindsey said...

My biggest writing fear is losing the joy: the heart of why I do it.

I'll be "okay" if my book doesn't do well, because the people who follow me online and in real life will like me regardless, but if I lose the joy at the keyboard--game over.

I've resolved to only stress over what I can control. I've done all I can do to facilitate success, as has my publisher. The success of my book, people's opinions, and reviews are not entirely in my control, so I've let that fear go.

You've done a masterful job building platform, Elana. You've got a huge support group that will stand behind you regardless. That's because of who YOU ARE, not how successful you become (Which will happen too). *wink*

You see, falling in front of folks is better than falling in front of no one, because there are lots of friends waiting to pick you up. You're awesome. Let that be the energy behind you.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Sadly, that question is far too easy to answer. My biggest fear is never getting to tell my Scott that "HIS" book will be published.

Write Chick said...

Wow. Where do I even start? I'm afraid that I'm not good enough or smart enough to be a writer. I'm afraid that I'll work and work and work, year after year after year, and never get anything published.

I just found out I was a semi-finalist in a writing contest and it is so weird, but I'm a little afraid of succeeding. Because of what you said, "What if my book gets published and flops or people hate it or people hate me?"

I needed this post today. I've been feeling like I'm the only one with fears about the publishing industry.

Amanda said...

I don't think there's a comment box big enough for me to list my publishing fears. Ultimately, I think I fear that I'm just a poser and the rest of the world will agree come December. Don't worry, Elana, you're not going to fail. You've already succeeded!

Heather said...

I think every writer is afraid their work will fail. But what if it doesn't? My biggest fear after that is book signings. What if someone hands me a book and says make it out to Marie and I forget how to spell Marie? I'd be branded the illiterate writer! I have nightmares about that.

Jenilyn Tolley said...

I'm afraid that I'll never be good enough. That I will work and work and work and never quite get there.

Speaking of falling in front of people, I used to teach Tae Kwon Do and I was teaching our very youngest class (3-5 year olds). We gave them each their own carpets to stand and kick on (so they wouldn't kick each other). I had a carpet too and one day I kicked and the carpet slid out from under me. I went down hard. They were all traumatized that their black belt teacher fell like that. But I don't think your book will be anything like that. It looks awesome!

Sarah said...

Thanks for being honest about your fears. Everyone will know (does know) about your success. I'm so excited for you and can't wait to get my hands on that book!

My fears? That I won't stick out the waiting that is required to be an author, that I won't know how to revise when it is suggested to me, that I won't see THE SKY WOMAN on the shelf.

Matthew Rush said...

I'm only about 5-10% as cool and as famous as you, and even I couldn't just walk away. I wonder about it sometimes, like "what if I just gave up?" But I know that all the friends I've made would blow me up until I fessed up about what was going on. That's a good thing.

I would blow you up if you disappeared too.

Angie said...

Never fear. You won't fail. And anyway, everyone loves you. My biggest fear is that I'm wasting my time. But, really, what else am I going to spend my time on? I think as long as I'm not sacrificing my relationships, that I'll be glad for whatever I do accomplish, however big or small. I hope so, anyway.

Joanna St. James said...

115 days to the release of Sparkle book am so giddy for you.
Fears my fears are legion but what makes them really important is that I move on ahead and dont let them stop me.
That is what you are doing so dont worry about trivial issues just get me a copy of sparkle book (hey we could name your next book sparkle book lol)

Heather said...

I have the exact same fear and it gets a little worse with each rejection. You my dear have nothing to worry about though. You are going to do fabulous~have already done fabulous~your book is going to do fabulous. I'm buying a copy for myself and a few of my friends and loved ones AND I'm telling everyone I know to buy it. You are going to be blown away by how good your book does.

Katie Ganshert said...

My book release is still a year out, so the fears aren't too big yet. I can imagine they will get bigger the closer I get to publication. But yeah...you pretty much summed them up for me. :)

Colene Murphy said...

You are not alone in that fear, my lady. Not by a long shot!! BUT the good news, for you, is that you have already succeeded! Your book isn't even out yet and you're everywhere, amazing reviews, people who can't wait to get their hands on it. And everyone KNOWS it's a hit. Because it is. You lucky ducky. Squish your fear, punch it right in the testes, because you win!!

Carolyn Kaufman said...

My biggest goal for my first book was to produce a really helpful, solidly-researched, fun, and interesting book about psychology for writers (and interested others), in a niche with a gaping hole.

So far, the reviews and other feedback have been fantastic, so I feel really good about having done the best I could on the manuscript.

I ultimately write because I love writing (and teaching, and psychology, and teaching about writing and psychology, and telling stories). My fear, like some others, would be to lose that drive and desire.

Try focusing on why you love storytelling...and Jag ;-)...the rest will find you!

Marsha Sigman said...

That I suck and just can't see it.

But then I tell myself I would not have gotten as far as I have in the process if I did...but still hard to shake it.

Liza said...

You can't fail because you are already a success. You already have a wealth of achievements for which you should be proud. Those others won't happen, but even if they did, you have to hang on to what you have already been accomplished.

My biggest fear? That the greater world will never know how well I can write.

Lisa_Gibson said...

Hmm, my biggest fear is that whatever I write will suck. Oh and also that I'll never start writing again once the hiatus I'm taking is up. Tres scary!
Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

Melissa said...

Well, I've already pre-ordered your book. So you'll sell that one, at least. (And don't worry you'll sell more) And from what I've seen of the beginning and summary, I like it already.

booksntea said...

I'm no author. And I'm barely a writer. I just graduated from college with a degree in English with hope that I may put it to use some day. My biggest fear? That the past 4.5 years was a waste. That I'm not as good as a writer as I once thought. And that my parents were right, and I should have picked up a degree in business. I'm afraid that my fear and the second guessing will deter me from writing and finishing all the stories that are brewing in my head. I guess that's just an eleborate explaination for my fear of failure.

- Jackie

L.T. Elliot said...

First of all, you won't fail. You just won't. Don't ask me how I know because then I'd have to kill you and then you'd fail. So just shut up and accept the win, okay?! ;)

Secondly, there's too many people out here who LOVE you and that love is going to see you through to success. And your own awesomeness will too but who needs awesome when you have me? ;)

Lastly, you're already a success. You did something hard. You kept doing something hard. Then you went out and shared those things you learned from all that hard and helped thousands of other people know that they can do their something hard. Automatic win.

Love ya. That is all.

IanBontems said...

I'm scared of pretty much everything.

I fear failure and that my book won't get picked up and published, and if it does, the reviews will be horrible.

I also fear success and the pressure of trying to repeat it and that my next novel will be toe-curlingly awful.

I'm terrified that I'll never have an original idea ever.

Just y'know, everything really.

Stephsco said...

I just realized, Elana, your book is not even published yet - look at how much support you have! Wow! I found your blog through another blog, and I have to say I am amazed at the support in the blogging community for new writers. Thank you for encouraging so many of us!

My biggest fear is writing something that doesn't fit enough in a category to be considered for publication. I don't want to force a story into a genre that it might not belong in, but I know it has to fit somewhere. I also fear listing my favorite authors and having someone say, "your writing is nothing like that." Everyone has their own style, I don't want to copy, but I have to have goals to strive for!

VR Barkowski said...

How could you fail? You're already a success. We all know it, even if you don't. And if you need any reminders, look no further. We're right here for you. Everyone has setbacks, but you, failure? Too late for that, girl!

As for me, my biggest fear is that no one will ever read my work.

lbdiamond said...

Biggest fear? Giving up on writing or coming to the realization that I'm not meant to be a writer. That's my biggest fear.

Miriam S. Forster said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joylene Butler said...

I have a lot of young writers asking me how to write a book, or how to start, or if their work is good, or would I take a look at their first chapter. My greatest fear is I'll say something in a gentle manner, but they'll take it the wrong way and quit writing. I had a lot of gifted writers take a chance on me when I was first starting out, and honestly, I need the Karma. But the fear lives on. What if...? If I think about it too much I make myself sic.

Riv Re said...

I don't fear failing as much as I fear losing it. I'm terrified of losing writing, of one day waking up and putting absolute trash on the paper. And not like I usually feel when I read something I wrote. Not the "I'm not worthy! Everyone writes so much better than me!" type, which I know isn't really true, deep down, even though I sometimes feel like it isn't well-written.
But no, I fear my writing turning into trash. I read friends' writing, for school, and I want my stories to flow, not just sit there.
I don't want to ever lose this.

Stasia said...

Seriously such a wimp that a list of my fears would really muck up this comment string. Suffice to say, I am NOT afraid of puppies or chocolate.

Sara B. Larson said...

First of all, you have nothing to fear! Your book rocks, it's already getting tons of buzz, and YOU rock. So many people support you and love you and are rooting for you. You could never fail. The only failure is quitting, which I know you won't do, so you've already succeeded. And I know your book is going to do awesome.

As for my writing fear? That this is never going to happen for me. I'm beginning to truly worry that I will never get a deal. It's a big, bad fear to be dealing with because it makes me question my writing, which makes it hard to write, which makes it hard to keep moving forward. LeSigh.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I guess my biggest fear is time. Fear that nothing will come of my writing and the time lost I spent working on it. I guess it's a chance we all have to take. Now where is the easy button when you need one?

The Golden Eagle said...

My biggest fear is that no one will see anything good in what I write. No potential.

Henya said...

I'm afraid of people who keep asking me when my book is going to get published. I'm afraid that once I do get published, and become very...very famous, I will need to go on all these talk shows and forget my name, or forget to talk. I also fear that I'd be exposed for being a fraud. Because I don't know how to write, and this published book was just an mistake.

Jill Kemerer said...

First, what an AWESOME endorsement!! So excited for you!!

Second, my fear matches yours. It's always the fear of never measuring up and ultimately failing. *sigh*

Have a great weekend! I know your fear will not come true!

Henya said...

a mistake, and not an mistake. See?

Carrie said...

That fear is probably always there for people who dare to put themselves out there and take risks in every field. Would it be easier to stand back and fade away? Sure! But I have a feeling that neither of those things are an option for you :) You have charged ahead and it is going to be wonderful.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm with you on your fear. I'm kinda terrified of letting anyone know the real me - & letting anyone who does know the real me know that I write. *sigh*

Abby Minard said...

That is definitely my biggest fear too. What if I never get published? Here I have this writing blog, and I'll watch everyone else get an agent and get published instead of me. That's my biggest fear as well.

June G said...

I think you have just about summed it up! Nice to know I'm not the only one paranoid about all of this.

roxy said...

Your admirers know that you aren't going to fail, Elana. You're just in the difficult position of waiting for success to happen, and I imagine that's stressful. I stress over the fact that I want to get published in my lifetime, and since I'm in my mid- 40's, I'd better get a move-on.

LTM said...

ooo, don't fear that. You're going to do great! You will NOT fail~ :o)
(((big hug)))

Regina said...

I think that my worst fear is losing the passion that I have for writing. It brings me such joy that I am afraid that I don't know what would happen to me if I wasn't able to write anymore.

Angie Ledbetter said...

At 50, the big fear is regret. (So, see, you're ahead of the game. You're actually doing/being/going after your dreams now...while time and brain cell retention are on your side.) Write on and go kick that fear of failure in its arse!!!!!! Your friends and followers are here because of who.you.are.right.now, not who you might be in the future.

Kimberly said...

My biggest fear is that I'll quit writing before I see how far I can go or quit just before I might be on the verge of finding an agent and then I'd always wonder if I could have made it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

My biggest fear is that nothing I write will live up to my dreams of it. But I don't think I can give up and neither can you. We're in this forever, as I think are all the people who commented. Hard-wired as writers.

Jeff King said...

My biggest fear: is not doing my story justice.

Carolyn Arnold said...

You're too awesome to fail! And you've already succeeded -- you're published AND you've got an incredible fan base already!! I'm sure your book will be just as cool as you. Can't wait for it!!

Carol Riggs said...

Hey, great honesty, E! Thanks for sharing that. I bet a LOT of writers can relate to that fear. (ALL of us?)

Have a great weekend; you'll be fine and won't fail, never fear.

Julie Musil said...

Elana, this is why I love your blog. You are so real, and honest, and raw. You WON'T fail. But even when we do fail, we now have so many writer friends to help us through it.

Jennie Englund said...

For me, failing in front of folks is bad, but failing myself is worse.

There's a lot on the line right now, and the anxiety is bananas.

Can you help me? I'm dying to know how long you waited to hear from editors, and how many offers/rejections you got.

And again, millions and billions of congrats to you. Dashner's blurb is brilliant. Another reason I can't wait to get possessed!

Ghenet said...

Elana, you are not going to fail so don't even think that way! I know what you mean about the fear though. I'm scared that I won't be good enough to be published and have a career as a writer, which is what I'm working toward. But I try to remind myself that if I work hard enough, it'll happen. :)

Tara McClendon said...

I hope by now that you realize no one here thinks you failing is possible. Even if you don't see the success you would like, I know we're all here with virtual hugs, brownies, tissues, and anything else you might need to cheer you up. Of course, I know you didn't post this to get pats on the back, so I'll add my own fear to the list - the fear or not getting published. What if I can't finish the novel so an agent actually likes it. On a more cheerful note, have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Gail said...

Elana: You've got it all wrong....even if your worst fear came true (and it won't), all of us are here to lift you up, to help you, to comfort you. That's what friends do, especially writer friends. You will never fade away, you shine too bright for that!

Lydia K said...

Well, that confirms it. You're human.
In any case, thanks for such a honest response. And like Gail said, we'll all be here if you *think* you failed. In our eyes, you've already succeeded.
Hugs,
Lydia

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