I think it’s safe to say every writer struggles with fears. There’s a collection of prickling thoughts in our heads that’s constantly questioning, doubting, and worrying.
- What if no one reads my books?
- Will I ever finish this project?
- What if people read it and don’t like it?
- Will my parents disown me for writing this scene?
- What if I can’t make the story as good as I want it to be?
- What if I miss something in editing?
- Maybe I’m not talented, or dedicated, or qualified enough.
- Will people think I’m crazy?
One of my birthday presents this year was a collection of John Keat’s poetry. John Keats was an English Romantic poet born in 1795. He was only 26 years old when he died and yet in his life (two years shorter than the life I’ve had so far) he became one of the greatest writers in English. He’s the one who wrote my favorite poem:
When I have fears that I may cease to beBefore my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,Before high-pilèd books, in charactery,Hold like rich garners the full ripened grain;When I behold, upon the night’s starred face,Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,And think that I may never live to traceTheir shadows with the magic hand of chance;And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,That I shall never look upon thee more,Never have relish in the faery powerOf unreflecting love—then on the shoreOf the wide world I stand alone, and thinkTill love and fame to nothingness do sink.
This poem hangs over my writing desk, along with quotes from the song “Non-Stop” from Hamilton. I wonder if Keats had some kind of premonition that he would die young or if there were so many writing ideas swirling in his head that he thought a normal lifespan wouldn’t be enough to “glean” them all. I don’t have any reason to suspect my writing career will be cut tragically short, but the sense of urgent worry is a familiar one.
You might think this post doesn’t have much to do with fantasy for “Fantasy Friday,” but some of my writing fears are specifically tied to my chosen genre.
- Will other Christians disprove of me using magic in my stories?
- Could my more literary stories ever be taken seriously by anyone in academia?
- Am I imaginative enough to create immersive worlds the way my favorite fantasy novelists do?
All these fears are one reason I started sharing quotes from other writers every Monday. It’s also why I just started a Writer Encouragement board on Pinterest. Maybe the questioning, fearful voice in my mind will never go away. Maybe it’s not supposed to. But one of the key things that separates “real” writers from people who just want to write is that they actually write. They don’t let anything talk them out of telling their stories, even themselves. That’s the kind of writer I want to be. The kind that keeps writing even when they have fears.