Insight is a great thing at any age. For instance, when I submitted my last book three years ago, I ended up with a staggering forty-four rejections. I was disappointed of course, but I did not curl up into a ball and die. I could never understand how some writers used to get so depressed over rejections and why I did not.
Recently, I found out why. I have been trying to push myself as a writer and it has involved tackling the short story form which I find intimidating. I wrote a piece of fiction and after incorporating some of the suggestions from others who had read it, I sent it off by email to a magazine.
As soon as I hit the send button, I regretted it. Because the nature of the story deals with a sensitive topic, I worried that it would open me up to criticism, or worse, that someone might take offense. Briefly, I thought of withdrawing it, but I took a deep breath and stuck with my decision to send it on. After all, it is just fiction. It was then that I had the enlightening moment that I actually feared success; it would explain how I handled rejection so well.
On further examination, it reminded me of an incident at college twenty plus years ago. I had enrolled for a creative writing course only to be told that registration alone was not enough; you had to “audition” for the course by submitting a sample of your writing. I was of course, delighted when I was chosen, it made me feel validated. However, sadly, in the end, I dropped the class, too afraid of what it meant: that I would have to read my work out loud in front of other people, that my work was not good enough and that I had nothing to write about. The older, wiser me regrets that decision.
I have yet to get any of my books published and I have convinced myself that at least I am writing and doing it consistently. There is a sense of safety in being afraid of success and its consequence of not being published; it wraps you up in anonymity and protects you from criticism, but it will also stunt your growth as a writer. I cannot hide under the drawers of unpublished manuscripts anymore. It is time to push the boundaries a little, take a deep breath and step out of my comfort zone.