Wednesday, January 26, 2011


That little word is responsible for so many irritating things.

Like keeping you up at night. Making your heart race when you're alone in the dark. Playing tricks with your eyes. But that's not the form of fear I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is another kind of fear. The fear of failure.

The fear of failure is your greatest restraint. It wraps around you with an iron grip--clenching down until you can't breath--crushing you beneath the force. It laughs, it taunts, it torments. It ensures you do not succeed. And you, the beaten down victim you are, give in to the future that fear has gifted you with. But fear still doesn't leave. No, no, no. It lingers, standing guard with a machine gun, watching over you, so that you do not attempt it again. And if you do, it'll blow you to smithereens.

I would not say that fear and I are frequently in each others presence. I don't particularly give it the time of day, so being thus ignored, it tends to stay away. But my most recent endeavors have sort of changed that. That little tyrannical word has been showing up in my mind and I'm unaccustomed to dealing with it. It's been poking its ugly head through my windows, lurking in the shadows, leaving post-its on my computer, whispering in my ear. "You're not good enough," it hisses. "You don't have what it takes. Who do you think you are to even try?"

Why is it that the taunting grows stronger the harder you try succeeding?

My journey as a writer has taking me along interesting paths and through beautiful territories I never would have imagined. The proverbial 'they' draw parallels between an author's journey and the hero/heroine's journey in a story, and the farther I walk along that unbeaten path, the more I'm a believer of it. And what do almost all stories have in common? Overcoming an opponent: a form of fear. Whereas my heroine battles evil creatures, I battle fear--with salivating, blood-dripping, fangs and 10-inch claws. It is what blocks my path, trying to slaughter my hope. It slashes at my pride. It acts as though I'm not skilled enough to fight it. It tries to pin me to the ground. And it always knows my weaknesses.

George MacDonald said it best: "Fear is never on your side." And he's right. It never wants you to succeed. So how do you fight fear? I've no real solution other than changing my approach. If I'm so afraid of failure, what do I count as failure?

Failure is never trying.

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