Today’s DIYMFA Book Club prompt is about being pointed toward a juicy writing project that I embraced or avoided because of fear.I certainly steered clear of writing itself as a career because of fear. So, in a way, I avoided ALL writing. Eventually my compulsive need to write things out – usually in long hand – overcame my resistance. After all, no one would see it – right? Call writing a journal, and suddenly you are writing for an audience of one – a safe, known, reader who still judges, but not as harshly as I envisioned everyone else would.
I was discouraged from writing by an uncle who had visions of being an author himself. In fact, he had published several books on Michigan history that were used in classrooms, something I’d love to have. His fictional pursuits were quashed though, and so his bitter advice to me, the year I got a typewriter for Christmas, “Don’t be a writer unless you want to wallpaper your bathroom with rejections.” That settled fear deep in me. He’s already published, and he couldn’t break into fiction.
A teacher in high school eased some of the fear, but in my working life, the need to fend of actual predators (individuals who saw me as a threat to eliminate – thus harming my livelihood) amped up my fear of dong something so risky as writing fiction. It took the fear of losing my job to eventually push me to finish my first novel, to prove to myself I had it in me; and to self-publish and enter it in contests to prove that I could handle criticism. Now I’m searching for an agent to move onward and the inevitable rejections aren’t slowing me down. I think my uncle would be proud, even though I ultimately ignored him.