Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 18 comments
Once I made the decision to self-publish Never Gone, a funny thing happened. I became completely paralyzed by the sheer volume of what I needed to do.

When I think back to my life in high school, I can't believe how I juggled band, choir, art club, school newspaper, honors classes, a part-time job, and scribbling stories every spare moment. College wasn't much different, though theater, music ministry, and literary magazine were my passions of choice. I never pulled an all-nighter in college and still graduated magna cum laude. After college, I worked full time, went to grad school, did freelance graphic design projects, and served as editor and publisher of an international literary magazine, About Such Things.

I used to be a high energy person, so why the paralysis at this phase of life?

I'd become irrationally afraid. About setting up my business wrong. About getting bad feedback that makes the story wrong. About my title choice and cover design ideas. About failing in a huge, public way.

A funny thing about listening to fear--it takes away your power to contradict it.

Getting into better headspace about the project came when I let voices other than the voice of fear really sink in. I went back and reread notes from the three groups of people who'd critiqued over the years. Sure they pointed out weaknesses, but they also had a lot of immensely encouraging things to say--that it's an important story, that it's moving, that it kept them up late reading. Friends and family alike kept asking how the book project was coming along, wanting to know when they could get their hands on it. Even my daughter was itching for this book to come to fruition.

When you're in the presence of other writers, it can be easy to forget what an extreme act of bravery it is to create worlds, characters, stories and put them out for public consumption. Non-writers are always amazed by it. I think in our circles we're only beginning to talk about the reality of fear when we create. Alex's Insecure Writers Support Group is one such place, and I'm always encouraged by folks' posts.

See, bravery isn't a lack of fear, it's a willingness to move forward in hope despite the fear. There are still moments when the voice of fear picks up on my doubts and shouts them at me. But I turn away and listen to the voices of hope instead.

Because hope energizes. Hope keeps on trying. Hope is patient. Hope believes.

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Blog Ramble News

See my interview with Anglea Felsted at My Poetry and Prose Place, discussing how my life experiences do and don't show up in my novel Never Gone.

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Have you wrestled with fear? How do you tune into the voice of hope instead?

18 comments:

  1. I am glad you chose to listen to your voice of hope instead of fear. I tune into the first scripture verse that I ever memorized that tells God fills us with His spirit of power, love and self-control. Plugging into hope is so important to battle our fears that are usually false in the first place and get back to the truth!

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    1. Amen! All my first draft readers were church friends who gave me words of holy hope again and again. God's voice of hope for me should always be the one I tune into first.

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  2. A funny thing about listening to fear--it takes away your power to contradict it. -- This is pure genius and soooo spot-on!

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    1. Fear likes us to stay stuck. You'd probably really resonate to Steven Pressfield's _The War of Art_, which makes some similar points.

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  3. I'm glad you never believed your fears enough to listen to them

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    1. Thanks, Melanie. I'm learning that the best thing about this whole process is how it's grown me and made me face my fears, even if the book's success is modest at best.

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  4. I always struggle with fear. To some extent, it's inevitable when I'm writing about subjects that challenge me, taking emotional risks.

    Fear is useful when it encourages us to look before we leap. But it's a burden when it keeps us from leaping at the right time. So, here's to hope!

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    1. So true that there can be a degree of wisdom in being aware of fear and taking proper precautions when handling dangerous things (like emotions!), but not to let fear block all paths.

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  5. I've felt that fear too. Many times. I remember a line from one of the Toy Story movies about Buzz saying he could fly. He jumps from one toy to another and then miraculously "flies". Woody says, "That's just falling." And Buzz says, "At least I'm falling with style." (Or something like that.)

    And that's how I look at it. If I fail, at least I'm doing it with style. And at least I TRIED it. How many other people do you know who want to write a book but have how many excuses that they CAN'T.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story. You're so right that many dream of what we're doing but never even begin because of fear.

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  6. Hi Laurel,

    This post has helped me a lot since I struggle with fear all the time, and your words have given me comfort and even more, motivation. I will keep writing my poems... tuning out the voices that tell me I should stop.

    On a side note, I've just ordered my paperback copy of Never Gone ! I wish it would come today! I can't wait to read it :) :)

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    1. Dealing with fear is a constant battle when we create. The closer we get to exposing truth, the more risk we take, and with that comes fear. Remember that risking to create brings light to others. Don't let hope die--you bring it to others in your work, too.

      I'm so glad I could be a voice of hope for you today! (And your eager anticipation of NG is a voice of hope to me! Thank you!)

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  7. See, bravery isn't a lack of fear, it's a willingness to move forward in hope despite the fear.

    This. That moving forward, that action, is the one true thing that can defeat fear. Hope may allow you to lift your foot, but setting it down is what quashes the fear, because it can only live in the space where something hasn't happened yet. Not in the space where it's already happened, and you've survived.

    Bravo to you! :)

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    1. Wow, that's profound--that fear "can only live in the space where something hasn't happened yet." We surely don't fear what's already past, only the unknown future. I'm reminded of the verses in Matthew where Jesus says "don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

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  8. Beautiful post! Publishing in any form is just scary. So glad you moved forward, though, and kept doing what you love. I owe you an email soon about your book!

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. You led the way with Cinders and I learned enormous amounts from your honesty about that process!

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  9. I love this Laurel. LOVE. And I so needed to read it today. Thank you.

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    1. I think every creative person needs to hear it from time to time.

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