Fear

As I get closer to finishing the first draft of my manuscript, I’ve been pondering fear. And even though I want to use different words with the same meaning, fear is always fear. If I cloak it in anxiety or terror or panic, it is always fear underneath the simile. Every evening, I can tell you the fear feels more like dread, as in I don’t want to wake up tomorrow and keep pushing that stone up the hill.

But I am nothing if not persistent. Maybe some people call this stubbornness, but I am more than willing to knock off a section or two on my manuscript daily despite fear. I know I will finish this draft and email it to my writing partner. What my mind has been chewing on is this: what am I exactly fearful of? And why does my fear turn to envy of other writers’ successes?

So my over-examined life continues. If I look closely, I see that I am fearful of failure, yes, but more than that I fear success. Ingrained inside my mind is the idea that I can’t make money as a writer. Oh, I say I want to make money, and if you know me well, I’ll tell you I want fame, too. I want a bestselling book. I’m a writer who writes because I want people to read my writing. I want to help people. I want to change the world. I want to write beautiful sentences that people swoon over. 

But I don’t really believe I can make money, even though I have been making money as a writer since age 27. This year I am focusing on abundance. I want to finally believe I can make sufficient money, heck, a goodly amount of cash, for my writing services. I am reworking the gears of my brain: mantras, meditation, running hard until I stop telling myself lies.

This past weekend, a friend said to me, “Your memoir is going to make you rich!”

I paused, and tried to take that in. But I stopped the flow and replied, “My memoir won’t make me rich. But I will get it published.”

Good lord, why am I so afraid of success? What is wrong with dreaming big? Why do I envy the success of other writers and feel the need to put them down when I see them succeed? Logically, I know there is room for all of us at the feast. We all can have our cake and eat it too. So I try to congratulate them, even if they aren’t in the room with me. And I examine why dreaming big feels crazy to me.

Is it my Midwestern roots? Is it the Catholic in me? Dude, you are not supposed to ask for the moon out loud. How presumptuous of you. Don’t take that glory for yourself.

Why not? Why not claim my birthright? If writing is who I am, why not believe in myself enough to ask for the moon and the stars and the sun? I am completely willing to change the way my mind thinks. It’s that same old lesson I first learned in college. I’ve told this story here before. My friend Helen told me she was bringing some friends home for Thanksgiving. I looked at her with longing, but said nothing. She said, “Nancy, I know you want to come with me. But I am not going to bring you unless you ask me if you can come with.”

So I asked. And I drove to Helen’s home for thanksgiving. This is my favorite college tale, and I keep leaning the lesson over and over. If you don’t ask for something, you probably won’t receive it.  

I am asking the universe for success. I am a good writer. I am writing a memoir. It’s called Lessons in Opening. I believe it will be a New York Times bestseller. (I hope I didn’t sound too pompous. Obviously I have my work cut out for me.)

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