Back in February last year, I wrote a blog post aptly titled ‘The Fear‘ in which I talked about how, after several years of trying to finish a novel, I was on the verge of doing just that and was scared sh*tless. Said fear was making me drag that last little bit out longer than it ever needed to be.
Writing the blog post helped.
I finally finished writing the book.
I got even more positive feedback – my writing mentor said it was “good to go.”
It was May by that point. I sent the novel out to an agent that very month and considered the issue resolved. I had got past my hesitation. All was good, right?
Well, I submitted to a second agent in July and then, inexplicably, stopped.
To be completely honest, I had gotten so caught up with other things, I hadn’t even realized I’d stalled again. When I opened my list of agents recently, I was horrified it had been so long since I had contacted any of them. Then, when the horror wore off, I found that old fear hiding underneath.
I hadn’t dealt with it, I’d just put a lid on it and left it on a shelf for a while.
Before, I wasn’t able to pin down the root of the fear. I said I didn’t think it was a fear of failure, but I wasn’t quite sure it was a fear of success either. Now, I think I’ve figured it. The key lay in a different blog post, about my writing journey so far. In it, I talked about how I started out full of confidence while also being entirely clueless.
I have come a long way, but it’s impossible to say just how far that is in the grand scheme of things, as everyone’s path is a different length and no one can see more than a few feet ahead of themselves.
I was hesitating because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself and have to realize, again, that I wasn’t quite as ready as I thought.
I think I’ve got a strong novel that’s really gonna help me reach my dream of being a [traditionally] published author, BUT I thought that before.
Boy, do I not want to go back to that place of blissful ignorance. But is static trepidation really any better? At least my error taught me a lesson and propelled me forward in some ways.
The reason it took me so long to realize I wasn’t creating any further forward momentum was because I was doing things that seemed, on the surface, to be proactive. I was asking people to recommend agents. I pinned info about my novel to the top of my Twitter feed. I put it in my bio. I entered PitMad.
And that was the turning point.
When I got two agents interested in my pitch, I figured I needed to make the most of the opportunities and not delay in following up.
It took me two days to actually look at their websites. I was reading through submission guidelines on the first one when my eyes started to go blurry – to the degree that I couldn’t absorb any of the info.
I was panicking.
I took a step back, a few deep breaths, and asked my husband for a pep talk. Which he provided, of course. He’s good like that.
I made a promise to Steve that I would have submitted to the two interested agents by the end of that night.
I went and looked at the website of the second agent and – AND – was blown away. They are part of a really impressive agency. And they were interested in me!
Needless to say, I got on with the submissions.
Am I now over the fear? At present, yes. One thing I am not so foolish to think anymore is that self-doubt is a one-time experience, however. I just need to be quicker at realizing when I’m in the midst of it.