Monday, December 31, 2007

Fear and Doubt in Calgary

Recently I mailed off the contract, author's questionnaire and a headshot to my new publisher, Storey Books.

After the thrill of two weeks of back-and-forthing between publishers, I had the contract. It was in the mail. Then it was in my hands. Then there was signing and reading and a questionnaire to answer... a headshot to have printed. Then it was done.

75K

Half due on Feb 29/08. The rest due in June.

And now is when the fear begins to take hold. Because Holy Crapola I'm Writing Another Book And Surely Now They Will Find Out I'm A Big Fake. Yes, I've ushered over 200 articles through to completion, yes I've written a 50K non fiction book already, yes I have good chunks of the book already written and researched....

But now it is all IN WRITING.

Now it is an expectation and (thank you, dad) what I fear most is not meeting someone's expectations.

Hello dear publisher/editor, if you are reading this, please ignore. This is normal. I used to do this with each article too but I got them done and done well thankyouverymuch.

I know that Shirley Jump has talked about being afraid during the book writing process. I Googled shirley jump fear (in case, dear Shirley, you wonder why that search string showed up in your stats) and I found this article:

Projecting Confidence When You're Terrified

My favorite is number five:

Believe in Yourself (Even if You're Pretending): "When I want to project confidence, I pretend that I am my worst competition. I envision myself as the most qualified, beautiful, and well-spoken candidate for the job," says writer Sheri Wallace. If necessary, talk to yourself in the mirror and remind yourself that you are a good writer.

That's what I do. Feel the fear, do it anyway, freak out on the inside. Really, whenever someone says I'm "accomplished" or that I've done a lot, I think "you really should see things from in hear because we're not sure what's going on and the hamster is about to run out of water".

But, again, I go back to Shirley, who is not old, but who is wise. She wrote Keep Doubt From Stealing Your Dreams.

In it she featured the quote:
"Doubt is a thief that often makes us fear to tread where we might have won."

I really think doubt is a thief. There's that evil, mean, nasty voice inside our heads that is constantly telling us that we aren't good enough. That we are just faking it, that we really have no business doing what we are doing. That voice? That voice really makes me angry.

If you ask my husband, he'll tell you that I do not like to be told what to do. He gets to sometimes because we're a team and that means sometimes you let someone tell you what to do. (I know, not the technical definition of team, which is somewhat more warm and fuzzy) But others? Oh no. You don't tell me what to do and more importantly, you sure don't get to tell me what NOT to do.

So now, instead of telling myself "Heather, you are a great writer!" My self-talk is more along the lines of "Look you evil, nasty little voice inside my head. You sit down. It's not your turn. It's my turn, I'm doing it. You can go pound sand because this book is being written and written well and you get no say in it. While you are sitting down there, you just worry about something else, like keeping your job. You know your cousin 'intuition'? She knows when to talk and when to shut the heck up. Read a page from her book, would ya?"

It's all peace and love in my head, can't you tell?

3 comments:

plaidearthworm said...

That's why I love your blog--you're so honest in showing us the process. Congrats, take care, and have a great New Year!

Carolyn Erickson said...

LOL, Heather. Love that self-talk.

This is exactly what I was referring to in my ONE Wish for 2008 post! Exactly.

You know the material and you know horses. It will be great reading and people who want to go green with their horsekeeping will get the information they've been looking for. :)

FA said...

Congrats Heather! Not only do you rock, you deserve the best!