Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's more to fear than fear

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself ( Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

We all know that quote. If FDR was around today, his words would be the leading sound bite on every news bulletin. But, you know what? I disagree. There's a whole lot more to fear than fear itself.

On Monday, Chantele Sedgwick at My Writing Bug wrote a post about fear. There was a line in it that particularly resonated with me.

“I'll always have fears no matter what part of my journey I'm in.”

Years ago, when I was trying to get pregnant, my biggest fear was that it wouldn't happen. That fear was realised and my husband and I went through IVF. The only thing I had to worry about then was the treatment working. It did. Worry over, right?

Of course not. The first three months of pregnancy are the most dangerous. I could stop being scared once I got past that, not before. Except then there was the rest of the pregnancy, the premature births, intensive care, the fear of cot death, vaccination side-effects, and then...and then...right up to the present day and a whole new set of fears I have about my teenage daughters.

Yesterday I sent my Mum an email which ended with the line 'I'm forty-one years old Mum, stop worrying.' I got a response back asking 'at what age will you stop worrying about the girls?'

Okay, score one for my Mother.

Before I was pregnant, I really believed that at some point in the Motherhood process I would stop worrying. Ha! Just like as a writer I once believed that all I had to worry about was getting the first draft complete; but once I'd done that I had a new fear. What if I can't revise it well enough? That's where I am right now. Chantele's fear right now is of success. I bet I'll be scared of that too. Right after I've finished being scared of not finding an agent, not finding a publisher, not getting a release date and then...and then...

“I'll always have fears no matter what part of my journey I'm in.”

I understand this. I bet most of us, if we're honest, understand it. Not just about our writing, but about many things in life. That's okay. It's fine to be frightened, to have fear. Life can be scary.

What's important is how we react to that fear. We can wrap our kids up in cotton wool, or never let anyone else read our work. Or we can be frightened but, as Chantele says, learn how to deal with it and believe in ourselves. In other words, get on with living.


  1. Brilliant post. So very, very true. My kids are grown, and I'll never stop worrying about them. My first book will be published next summer. I'm still terrified. But, as you say, it's all about how you deal with your fear. I try hard not to let it cripple me.

  2. Oh, this is so true. There's always going to be something else to worry about, but you can't let it ruin your life/fun thinking about it. There's always a new fear lurking around the corner.

  3. I love this Sarah! It is so true, and yes, we can all relate. I had to laugh in Chantele's post because I hadn't even thought about half the stuff she was afraid of cause I'm not there yet! But I will be and will still be afraid. You're right though, we can't let those fears hold us back, otherwise we never find success! Great post.

  4. Inspiring post, Sarah. Your last line is my favorite. Thanks!

  5. I love the word resonate. It is a wonderful word. I don't think that we ever lose the fear, but we find a way to channel it into something positive. I also believe that other writer support is another way to help sooth my fear. The more supportive I am of everyone else and push them to be more, I take the focus off of me and then I don't stress myself out as much because I am able to find more attributes in myself when helping others. :D

  6. Great post, Sarah. I love how you said, "get on with living." Great advice. ;)

  7. This is exactly the thing I was worrying about, "what if my revisions aren't good enough?" I also had the same pregnancy fears and solutions. But your right, we can't wrap our kids up in cotton or put our book aside so it can be "safe" - life is risk.

  8. What a great post Sarah!

    I will always worry about my children. Always.

    I am terrified I won't be able to revise this book into something I can send out and I know I will be terrified at every stage, but if I don't stand toe to toe with the fear and push past it, I will definitely never be published.

  9. Long ago I eliminated the word "worry" from my vocabulary because it's a word that is over used. We use it for things that make no sense, "I'm worried it won't rain." Does no good to worry because I have absolutely no control over the weather, besides which, it WILL eventually rain. "I'm worried about this, worried about that." Instead I use the word concerned. "I'm concerned the dog isn't feeling well." Being concerned implies that SOMEthing can be done. Worry is wasted energy.

    Fear has the same kind of mind-numbing influence, as stated in this quote from DUNE, by Frank Herbert: "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

  10. So true, so so true. Not that I have kids or anything. But there is always something out there in the world that I fear; right now it's that I'll never get published and I'll never find a career. And I know one fear will develop into another, but that's part of life. And you know what? I like living it, so I guess I'll just have to deal with it and push past fear.

  11. You are so right when you say our reactions to fear are the most important. How we deal with our fears defines us and who we are. Sounds like you are one courageous person. :)

  12. A little fear is probably a good thing. Being totally reckless and never stopping to consider what could go wrong probably isn't the best way to raise children - might be good for writing first drafts though.

  13. They say only 10% of what we worry about actually happens. Good luck with the pregnancy. We weren't successful with our attempts, but while we tried I worried about stupid things like if all 3 embryos took how would I manage triplets with only 2 hands? LOL! As it turned out none of them did. Virtual hugs :O)

  14. I was afraid you were going to say that. Actually, you hit the nail on the head. No matter where I am, self doubt that I won't measure up is always dancing around in the back of my head saying na na na na na, I told you you couldn't do it (in a real sing-song voice),
    Good post.

  15. Linda - I imagine having your book published must be one of those 'exciting fears', like bungee jumping!

    Stina - Indeed, if you thought about it you'd never get off the straight path :)

    Abby - I'm like you, I read something and think 'I never thought of that, now I have to worry about that too' :)

    Emily, you're welcome and thank you :)

    Regina - It is a beautiful word isn't it? I like your sentiment, it's sort of like paying good vibes forward :)

    Chantele - thank you again for the inspiration!

    Jen, 'life is risk', oh very definitely!

    Rebecca - I love the picture in my head of you squaring up to fear and punching it on the nose :)

    Bish - I'd never looked at it like that. That's something I should try, changing how we think about something is often the first step to conquering something.

    Jenny - So true, life is worth it in the end :)

    AA- I son't know about courageous. Who was it who said 'I laugh in the face of fear, and then I run away'?
    That's me :)

    Patsy - Fair point, moderation in all things :)

    Madeleine - Hugs to you :))

    Life 101 - Stupid fear, I bet it sings off key :)

  16. Fears are a part of life but I think it's all in how you handle them.

    PS - Life 101 had me busting out laughing when he wrote "I was afraid you were going to say that"

  17. Jen - Indeed, like most things. And he made me laugh too :)

  18. Very well said, Sarah. We can use fear to our advantage, I believe! In writing, it helps me not to get lazy and motivates me.

  19. There's nothing wrong with fear. Just like anger, it's a natural, critical emotion. It's what you do about it that matters.

    Also: without fear, there would be no such thing as courage.

  20. Excellent points *unwinds the bubble wrap from my child* :D A life lesson for sure!

  21. Talli - Agreed, it's all in how yo use it.

    Matt - Good point. The greatest hereoes are the ones who do things in spite of being afraid.

    Christina - That made me laugh!


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