"Raw, naked fear."
A few months ago, I was thinking about my writing career, or lack of career, and was looking at my wall. I was thinking about what I wanted, and why I didn't work for it the way I should. Mark was standing by me.
There's a sign on my wall. It's a quote from Orson Scott Card that I pulled from "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy." It goes like this:
It might be true enough that the story isn't ready for publication -- but that isn't why you aren't sending it out. No, you're hanging on to this manuscript for one reason only.
Raw, naked fear.
I looked at it and said, "That's it. That's why."
Mark knew what I was talking about. He, too, has fears of success. He knew what I was going through and he knew how it haunted me. He simply said, "I know," and put his hand on my shoulder.
As much as Mark believes in me, as much as he wants me to succeed, as much as he knows that I can, he also knows that I have to believe it, and I have to be willing to do it. I, and only I, can do my work.
Nothing changed dramatically. Not all at once. But, soon, I started submitting short stories again. I started writing and re-editing my work. I went back to college. There, I acquired the urge to write a new kind of book. To study non-fiction, write it and seek to have it published. I started a fiction novel as well. I started thinking about what I did wrong with my unpublished novel, that sits waiting in a box for me to have the courage to take another look.
Every day I face that raw, naked fear. Whether the fear of failure or the fear of success is more strong depends on the moment. Somedays the fear wins, but not for long. And not today.