We can do nothing, including taking risks, if fear is our overriding emotion. Fear is paralyzing and certainly, there are many of us who write that feel fear around the edges of our egos and emotions as we put pen to paper, share our work with others, send a letter to an agent, speak with a publisher or, even vaguely consider self-publishing our own work.
Moving through our fears is the only way to the other side where we can step fully forward making choices true to who we are.
Many years ago, on Sunday afternoons when living in Maryland, I would pack up my two young daughters and, along with my guitar, we would visit with the very elderly in a nearby long-term care facility. Although these senior folks could no longer carry on conversations regarding the present, they could remember the words to the old hymns, singing along as I strummed my guitar and my small girls dispensed hugs all around.
I continued these weekly visits over several years becoming familiar with the relatives of these precious people and much about the lives they had lived. I became especially close to a woman of 80 years named Calle. Fragile of body, but sharp of mind, displaying a caustic wit and a no-nonsense approach to all of life, she was the last person whom we visited on those Sundays. Calle was not especially social and did not attend the hymn singing as she was still living in the present and very conversive. All her friends had passed on and her two sons lived quite a distance away, seldom visiting their mother. We became fast friends.
Calle was a woman ahead of her time. She went to university and studied nursing and radiology. Radiology technology in the early 1900’s was a field in which she worked for over forty years. She would tell me of the challenges of working in a profession primarily occupied by men and how her fiercely competitive nature and desire to constantly learn, often got her “into trouble.”
She was never afraid to pursue excellence, never afraid to take risks.
Calle thought me a fine young woman but extremely meek. She persisted in challenging me to think about my own future. What were my dreams and aspirations in addition to being a mother? I told her I loved playing music, writing songs, poetry, and stories. And that because I stuttered, I wanted to someday go to college and become a Speech-Language Pathologist. She told me that “someday was here” and I was to plot a plan for how my future dreams were to be accomplished. I told her I was afraid. Afraid my husband would object to my going to university, afraid I would be seen as a negligent mother, afraid I wasn’t intelligent enough, afraid my music and writing would be found wanting by everyone – especially me. With a great sigh, Calle asked me what I was NOT afraid of and I should start there.
- Can you identify your fears related to your writing?
- Where, as a writer, does your confidence lie?
- Do you aspire to self-publish your stories, poems, novel, memoir, non-fiction – whatever you are wanting to publish?
It is important first to recognize all your strengths and make them work for you.
If you have entertained the thought that you might want to self-publish, I am here to tell you it is not rocket science (although I’m sure you could do that as well). If you have done all the hard work of research, writing, and editing and are ready to send your work out into the world, then you can certainly self-publish. Especially if you have attempted over some time to find an agent and/or publisher and there has been no forward movement. Or if you have spoken with other self-published writers, some of whom were published with a publishing house and later decided to self-publish, or if you feel strongly that you want to retain control of and manage your work from the beginning and thinking self-publishing is best for your vision.
A few days before we moved to Washington state, I said my good-byes to Calle. I asked her if she had to live her life over what would she do differently. She fiercely took hold of my hands and said, “I would have vanquished fear and taken more risks.”
So, if you are considering the option of self-publishing your work, walk through the fear because, truly, it is not the difficult, frightening process some would lead writers to believe. The next article in this series will look at where to begin and how to proceed when you decide to publish your own work. Remember, “keep falling in love with the potential of what you are doing” and move you and your work forward without fear.
Gail Noble-Sanderson is the author of two works of historical fiction, both of which are self-published under her own Noble Press. The Lavender House in Meuse is an emotional, intriguing, and sensitive account of the crises of World War I and one woman’s journey towards recovery and growth. Her second novel, The Passage Home to Meuse
won 1st Place in the 2017 Chatelaine Awards, the Chanticleer International Writing Competition for romantic fiction.
Both books are available through Amazon and Village Books.
Visit Gail’s homepage at http://gailnoblesanderson.com/ and follow her on social media.