On coming to terms with fear….

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have a fear of at least one thing. Most people seem to have fear of heights or spiders or snakes or something like that. My list of fears is pretty strange, to say the least. I’m afraid of wet paper, depths, and mushrooms.

Wet paper makes my gag reflex kick in immediately and with a vengeance.

Depths stems from an incident in South Carolina when I was 15. I haven’t felt the same about the ocean since. Watching Finding Nemo even makes me have minor anxiety attacks.

Mushrooms, well, they’re just weird and gross. Why would someone eat a fungus? I don’t get it.

But the other night, a new fear was introduced to me. The fear of completion.

I have a few friends who are writers, two of whom (one being my husband) who are actually, legitimately published. Todd has a contract with a small publishing house in Colorado and Ben recently won a pretty BFD award for Writer’s Digest. Both have been pursuing writing for a looooooong time and I know absolutely for certain that Todd would like his writing career to be his ONLY career.

So when he completed his first novel, he immediately began sending the manuscript to agents, publishers, anyone who might want to take a look at it. Because if you’re going to work that hard to complete a novel, the intention (probably) is to get it out into the world.

Ben brought up this whole fear of completion as it relates to writers. He suggested that a lot of writers simply don’t finish a piece because once they’ve completed it, one of two things generally happens:

1. There’s nothing left to work on; and/or

2. They have to DO something with the piece.

I don’t understand #1, just because there’s always something else that I want to write (granted, I write more article-style and not novels, though my husband is trying to pursuade me to write one). The second fear, however, I kind of get.

See, in my dream world, I’m a contributor to Vanity Fair. I love reading that magazine, I respect the talent of many of the writers (even if I don’t always agree with their POV), and I want to be part of something bigger than me, professionally. I figure, the only way that I’ll ever get to be a contributor is to actually submit a piece for review. I always seem to say, “Someday, I’ll be brave enough to submit to Vanity Fair. Someday.” Why not today?

I don’t know what my senior writing project will entail, if it’s a solo or group project, if it’s supposed to be a singular piece or a compilation. No idea. But I think I’d like to create something that’s worth submission to some credible magazines. But I do worry about the day that I actually complete a piece like that. I worry about holding the paper or staring at my computer, all the while thinking, “Oh crap. It’s finished. Now I have to DO something with it.” I worry that I’ll pore over and over and edit the hell out it and basically torture the piece; edit it into submission, if you will. I worry that, even though I know it will be rejected, I’ll consider that rejection the Simon Cowell of my writing career, however brief and fledgling it may be. I worry that I’ll give up before I give myself another shot. I worry that I’ll find it easier to sit on the piece, never submit it to anyone, and carry on with my meager existence, just so that I don’t have to feel the sting of rejection.

It was suggested that I also mention the fear of success in concert with the fear of completion. I just don’t really have a fear of success. I desperately want to taste success in my life. I want to be a successful career person, I want to succeed in the kitchen, I want my marriage and family to be wildly successful. Fear of success? Not me.

But I need to get over the fear of completion in order to even get a chance at success.

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