Thanks, Jeanne, for screwing in my light bulb.

December 9, 2005 | It's All About Writing

Everyday a blogger must come up with something relevant to say to the world. It’s a daunting experience but not as scary as the writer who needs 50,000 words to produce a manuscript. And they better be damn good words or the work is committed to the slush pile. Forever.

I’m in this eternal editing mode that makes me crazy. The outline is there, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. The novel is completed and backed up more times than babies are conceived in a year. So why the hell can’t I pull the damn thing together and get it finished?

The Brazen Vixens and my critique partners are behind me 100 percent. My daughter, son-in-law, and Studly encourage me daily. All these people think I can do more than sit on my flabby rear and grow gray hair. What is the problem, I ask myself as I waste more time on Spider Solitaire?

The answer jumped into my brain after Jeanne Laws, the editor of Passionate Ink, asked me to write an article for the January newsletter. I AM AFRAID OF SUCCESS. Horrifying thought, isn’t it? Out there with the Big Girls, treading in unknown water, sinking and gulping for air. Panic Time.

Who wouldn’t want money pouring in on a regular basis? Or the joy of meeting new people at book signings who praise your humble words? It’s every author’s dream.

I wrote an excellent story with meaning and depth. It should be read by more people than the friends I’ve badgered. So damn it, I will set a goal; every day, without fail, one chapter will be edited to the best of my ability. Excuses just go away. Find some other sucker to plague.

And to all you fine editors who read this blog daily; ignore my cold feet. Don’t be concerned I’m a one-book-wonder. Never let it bother you that all those pitches you accepted will be for nothing. Sloane Taylor has identified her problem and will conquer. Yep, right after this next game of Spider.


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9 Responses to “Thanks, Jeanne, for screwing in my light bulb.”

  1. Jenna Howard Says:

    The fear doesn’t go away. Trust. Me. It mutates from “I’m afraid of succeeding” to “oh my gawd, don’t let me be a one hit wonder” when you sign your first contract.

    Yeah, there’s the elation of “I so don’t suck” but then comes the shakes three days later. “Oh. My. God. What have I done?”

    But then you remember “This is my dream. This is who I am.” And you start to feel a little validated that (a) you don’t suck (b) an editor likes your story and (c) this dream has now come true.

    Living the dream – makes you conquer all sorts of fears (well except airplanes crashing into shark infested waters but that’s just me).

    Go get it, tiger. Grrr.

    And wow – you said yes to Jeanne? I keep pretending I’m blind so I can’t read her emails. Good on ya. Damn – did I just give away my secret?

  2. Sloane Says:

    You’re right in all you wrote. I was petrified of airplanes but I wanted to be where they took me. To overcome the irrational fear I forced myself to go to Europe twice a year. Such dedication to be brave. LOL. It worked. It was also back in the days when I had money. Now I board the plane with confidence. I have decided it’s time to do the same with writing.

    So will you be there to share cyber martinis when I get the call?

  3. Sherrill Quinn Says:

    What Jenna said. Damn. I really need to get here first so I can pontificate before her. She makes everyone else sound so… blah.

    I seem to remember someone asking me if I was afraid of success once. It was several months ago when I was whining about my job and how I should quit but this and but that. Hmmm. Seems to me, Sloane, that YOU were the one who challenged me to stop being afraid of success.

    Hmmm. Right back atcha, chickie.

    Right back atcha.

  4. Kate Lang Says:

    I’ve found that I’m more afraid now than before. I mean, I got two contracts, I got an editor waiting for me to submit a story she has basically said she will give me a contract for…and I’m scared outta my boots. I think before writing was an escape, a pie in the sky, now I’m realizing that it just doesn’t fall in your lap…and the stories still need to be written well. The effort needs to be expended every day because the dream just doesn’t come easily…it requires dedication, committment and, damnit, work.

    I guess that’s why success is so sweet…cause you’ve had to work your tush off to get it.

    Keep working at it, Sloane…

  5. Jenna Howard Says:

    Whoo! I’m the entertainment! Kick. Ass. Me!

    Worship me. Adore me. Love me.

    I do believe I was a golden retriever in my past life. Oiy.

    Blood, sweat and tears – that’s what writing’s all about. It’s why I love this job so damn much – even when it’s gone to shit and I’m whining to the world about how muchI suck. I still love it.

  6. Sloane Says:

    Doesn’t it suck when your own words come back to haunt you? Carumba! You’re memory is toooo good, Sherrill!

    Mama, you have no reason to be scared. My word woman, you write with substance and heart. You are a sure thing. But you’re right on how hard it is to maintain the commitment. Those stupid self-doubts creep in and screw your head.

    I will keep working because I need too. Fear is a weak thing and I ain’t goin’ outta this world weak.

    And you, Diva of the Insane, we all worship you because we’re afraid not too! B,S, & T. I thought you were going to talk about the old rock group! It’s something how writing gets in your blood and just won’t take a nap. You can whine to us all you want for two reasons; you’re still writing and you make us all laugh.

    Thanks girls, again, for being pals.

  7. Yasmine Says:

    I say, late of course, go get a massage, manicure and pedicure. Eat something you really want and then hunker down and write. Fear of success. I feel fear of failure every time I set foot on a tennis court to play singles. Why the hell did I say I’d play singles? I can’t hit the ball that well. Then when I win a game, I’m shocked and don’t think I can do it again. I do it again, or I lose the next game. But I’m forced to stay out there for 2 damn hours and do my best, lose and learn, win and feel good. See I told you writing and tennis are similar. Submit and be told it’s good, submit and be told it doesn’t fit. Just submit the best work you’ve got. Spider Solitare needs to disappear again.

  8. Beth Anderson Says:

    Sloane. Ethel. Chickie. You never get over that fear so get used to it. It’s part of being an EXCELLENT writer. It’s part of being willing to give it all you’ve got, and then getting it out there into the big bad world so people can see your guts spilled all over the table. If you didn’t have that fear you wouldn’t be worth jack shit as a writer, because it’s all part of wanting to be The Best There Is.

    Now. The first time I saw something you’d written I knew you were a true-writer-in- progress. There’s just something about the way a true writer puts words together, even though it may need some fine-tuning, that’s recognizable even to a klutz like me.

    I KNEW you were worth working with. Well, YOU KNOW how few people I’ll actually work with for more than fifteen minutes. THAT ought to tell you something, am I right?

    So don’t worry about the fear, even if it is about success. Most of us do have that same fear, but Chickie, you’re going to be published and You’re Going to BE The Best There Is. Lucy, aka Mama Bethie, Queen of the Two by Four, won’t let it be any other way. Not with you. You’re special.

    You’ve been working your butt off over the past couple of years and you’re developing into a writer who writes not only with sophistication (which impresses the living hell out of me) but with a great deal of heart. Every time I sit and listen to you now, reading a scene you’ve written and rewritten and rewritten until we ALL want to hang ourselves if we have to listen to it ONE MORE TIME, and EVEN THOUGH I may sit there without showing much emotion except to say “STOP, hold on, let’s go over that last sentence again”, at the VERY same time something inside of me JUMPS and SCREAMS and LAUGHS and SHAKES HER HEAD WITH ADMIRATION and CANNOT BELIEVE how frickin’ much you’ve grown as a writer.

    Love, you’ve got success written all over you. Yes, you do.

    So the lesson here is, please shitcan the spider solitare or whatever the hell you’re playing (unless it’s a game with Studley)and get the manuscript done already. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done with your wonderful book finally go to print.

    And yes, I’ll be there with champagne when you win and I’ll be there with Disney Band-Aids when you fall. We all fall. But the true writer picks herself right back up and works until she GETS IT RIGHT.

    You’re getting it right.

  9. Sloane Says:

    My God, you girls blow me away! You are the best ladies, the best people, I could ever hope for in my life. Honest to God, you make this cantankerous old poop want to cry.

    Yasmine, yu’re right as usual. A massage, a pedicure, another way to procrastinate! KIDDING. You’re stamina is something to admire. And yes, it’s your fear of failure which keeps you going and winning. I’m proud of you.

    Beth, you really think success is written all over? Gee, I thought it was the mayo from yesterday’s Big Mac. Okay, I’ll behave, but it’s hard with you because you ALWAYS make me laugh and see the reality of the world. Thank you for all your patience and education. Without you I’d be no where.

    Spider is being delted, once again, from the Dell. A moment of silence please.