Fear of Writing
This past weekend my friends needed my husband and I to watch their child for the night. I don’t like using the word “babysit” as the young boy who was in our care would detest the term since he is ten years old. My kids are grown so it’s been awhile since we dealt with the nuances of childhood.
Since it’s near Halloween I thought it would be fun to watch “Nightmare Before Christmas.” It’s one of my favorites and I even have several of the toy characters from the movie. If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s an animated puppet/claymation style movie with a wonderful soundtrack by Danny Elfman. As our young charge is a budding musician I thought he would enjoy it. He seemed to enjoy it and didn’t cringe or hide anytime while watching it. When it was done, he even said he liked it.
Soon after the movie he washed up for the night and got ready for bed with all going well. Then it was lights out. Not less than five minutes after I turned out the light he was there at my office door telling me that he couldn’t sleep because the movie scared him. When I questioned him about what it was that scared him, he told me it was Oogie Boogie. He didn’t like the fact that this character was trying to kill two of the characters and when he was defeated his stuffing of zillions of bugs fell out.
Now I’ve got to admit I don’t like that part of the movie either with all the wiggly stuff; however this same child wanted to read his picture book on the world’s deadliest poisons as a final nightcap which I would not allow. He also likes talking about deadly insects and playing video games where he trounces stuff. This confounded me that an animated movie would then cause him a problem.
I tried my best to reason with him and give logical ideas of how he could overcome his fears of the creature. Each time I gave him a new suggestion or idea he just kept telling me it wouldn’t work, he’d just keep thinking about the scary character. He wouldn’t even try to work it through but just kept saying nothing would work.
This reminds me of how as writers we might also keep saying nothing will work when we get those ghastly rejection letters. Why even try if no publisher will like them? Or why go through the work to self-publish if no one will buy except a few loyal friends? Why let anyone critique your writing when you know they probably won’t like it anyway? Why not just pretend that you really only want to write for yourself?
Well it’s time to buck up and take the rejection. Life and writing isn’t meant to be easy. Here’s a short list of once unknown but now famous authors whose books didn’t get accepted at first. It shows how many rejection letters they received either for one work or their collective works.
7,000 William Saroyan (before he sold his first story)
140 Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
38 Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
30 Carrie by Stephen King
26 Watership Down by Richard Adams
22 Dubliners by James Joyce
16 The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter
When you get that rejection letter, just think that this wasn’t the publisher for you. It’s like dating there are lots of people out there but only a few are really right for you. It will take time to find the right match. And maybe waiting for that right match will mean going solo for awhile as in self-publishing.
Just don’t stop writing – stop making excuses for not writing. There’s something in you that wants to tell stories, let them come. Write and rewrite until it really flows for you. Be open and objective to critiques. Analyze stories in the genre that you write to see what makes them work. Not everything you write will be great, but the more you write you’ll see yourself improving. So pick up that pen or put those fingers to a computer keyboard and write!
For more on Chris and her writing go to http://TheWriteChris.blogspot.com. There you will find weekly interviews with other authors and her experiences with writing.