31 Days: Fear

Because Failure Is What I Fear Most: 31 Days

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. That’s when my parents put a copy of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie in my hands, and I thought, I could do this too.

Tell stories. String words together to form images and persons and tears. Send someone into a world so different, yet so the same as their own that they long to step into pages and walk alongside those who exist only in imagination.

I wrote stories and poems and songs and terrific, terrible works of childhood. At twelve I was probably more of a writer than I am even today. In childhood, there was no fear of admitting this dream, because every child has an outlandish dream to become something truly great.

Then the fear set in, rooted itself deep and tight in my soul and heart and mind.

You’ll never be good enough. Failing Other People

You’ll try and you’ll fail and no one will ever respect you. 

They will judge you and tear you to pieces and you will be ashamed.

So I found my safety net. Teaching became a natural path for this creative type who wanted security and maybe just a touch of success. I knew I could be really good in a classroom. I knew I had compassion and idealism and knowledge. I knew that the best teachers evoke change in their students because of the passion brought into the room everyday. I knew I could do this, I could build up my confidence, and then, maybe someday, I’d stop scribbling in the dark and bring some of my own works into the light.

I floundered around in college. Theater welcomed me in and let me be part of telling stories that truly came alive. I learned to research and listen and delve deeper into words on a page. I thought this would be it–I’d be a high school drama teacher who maybe, one day would also write a book. That would become a play.

That would share a story.

Then I found no fear in love and settled down with a steady man who would give me the moon and the stars if he could. Then we had four beautiful, boisterous children.

Then I realized fear had taken over my life.

Mid-thirties approached with the knowledge that I had never been published, never been exposed, never been called a writer in the way I wanted to be. Blogging wasn’t satisfying this deep longing of my soul.

Blogging was teaching me to find the voice that would tell the stories buried in my heart–stories that weren’t always mine, but someone else’s. Stories that would keep putting light and hope and redemption into this dark world of fear.

And I found to my surprise that failing other people is nothing compared to the discovery that I had failed myself. 

So I wrapped my fear and my hope in a pretty shirt from StitchFix, packaged it into a neat one page and a 500 word excerpt, and I sat down at the table across from an editor and a real, published, well-known author.

And she told me I shouldn’t be afraid of my gift. That I was a talented writer. That my voice was strong.

And in that moment, the crippling weight of fear lifted, and anticipation, that blessed hope that someday this will happen, took its place.

You can read a sample of my fiction over here and here on the Lightning Blog with Splickety Publishing. And if you sign up for email posts, you’ll know when my award-winning short story comes out in Southern Writers Magazine later this month (because I might shout that from the rooftops).

Tell me–what’s holding you back from your dreams? Because kids and laundry and life will always tug at me, but I tell myself over and over, At least I’m trying. Can I help you try in some way?

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3 thoughts on “Because Failure Is What I Fear Most: 31 Days

  1. Oh boy. Right now I am so constricted by the everyday demands of life that I can hardly find space to breathe, let alone give voice to the stories that want so badly to be told. You’re an encouragement to me already, LIndsay, and I can’t wait to read your book. I keep thinking that things are going to slow down around here so that I can actually write, but I think I need to face the fact that I will have to learn to write AROUND the interruptions. I am a good deal older than you but I also feel time slipping by. I was praised by my English teachers for my creative writing and have started more books and stories than I can count, with none of them followed through to completion. My perfectionism keeps me from finishing because what if it’s no good? Yeah. That.

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    1. I love that Kim–“learn to write around the interruptions”. Yes, that. All the time. My biggest encouragement to you? Join a writing group. Changed. My. Life. I’m part of Word Weavers International and participate in an online space. Accountability makes all the difference. Keep going–you’re a blessing to me!

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