Monday, February 18, 2008

Success, Failure, and Fear

It's not the thought of failure that frightens me, it's the chance of success.

The closer I get to the dream of publication, the more I also notice the fear. Spending the weekend at Boskone and talking to successful writers in some way only sharpened the fear. And yet, I can't let it stop me from moving forward.

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. -- Samuel Beckett *

Years and years ago, when I was a senior in college, a friend convinced me to submit a group of poems in a university competition. Those were the years I didn't share my work with many others. I also was not much of a risk taker (that fear again) and would probably not have submitted but for my friend's insistence and my own belief my work would never be chosen.

I won the Dean's Prize in creative writing at the University of Rochester for that work.

While I have written many, many poems since then, along with one children's story and nearly 4 novels, I am still proud of that poem.

I am also proud of the novels I have written and I'm willing to risk both failure and success to bring them to the world.

Perhaps fear is necessary, but I don't have to let it rule me.

If I notice the fear, perhaps it's because I'm moving in the right direction.

*(Poet Mom introduced me to the Beckett quote--thanks, January!)


  1. I have started to find that I shouldn't fear failure so much as I should fear not trying at all. Nothing much has been going out in submission for the last couple years. I've been busy. I need to get a thousand other things done.

    And then I noticed that I have a half dozen novels on hand and I haven't sent any of them out.

  2. I think a lot of writers experience the fear of success. I know it has been one of my own big stumbling blocks.

    If you haven't read it, I'd recommend The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. This book changed my writing life.