You gain strength, courage, and confidence
by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You must do the think you think you cannot do.
Basically, Mrs. Roosevelt said Fuck your fears! Whatever they may be, allowing them to conquer you and defeat you will slowly build a pattern of accepting defeat in the midst of any new challenge you may be faced it.
When I was younger, I wrote my ass off. I swear, had I not to have gone to school, I would have written all day.
My emo rants, observations I made, stories, fan fiction, music videos, song ideas, episode pilots, movies, and the poetry!
It was like I lived in another 8 1/2 * 11 world where anything could go, as long as I believed it and it was true. I remember going over my aunt’s house and writing out my own version of my favorite shows on her Compaq PC, with all my files on a floppy disk and saved under a Windows 95 Microsoft word file.
But I never had any critics because I never showed it to anyone. None of my friends had any ideas what I was creating within the pages of my notebooks, mostly because I feared misunderstanding.
I wanted to keep my writing just for me, free from critique, free from getting better, essentially. I didn’t want to hear what I did wrong. They just wouldn’t get it, I would tell myself.
It wasn’t until college when I got my first critiqued piece of writing. The report was an analysis on 1984, whether we felt our current state of the media mirrored the fictional Owellian nightmare or not.
I argued against it because agreeing with the statement would be too fucking easy.
As most of my assignments went, I rushed through it, made sure I got my point across, and sent it at the last minute.
When I arrived to class that following Monday, Prof. Snyder took out an essay, cleared his throat, and started reciting a line from it:
Orwell’s prediction was a gross understatement to the spirit of society. For great evil to rule, great men must do nothing. In a world in which its nations are constantly becoming more aware of each other’s problems, collective recognition and action is slowly becoming more prevalent.
I recognized the line immediately. It was mine.
My heart became a drum set and Tito Puente was halfway into a 10-minute drum solo. My palms got sweaty, I looked around the room to gauge everyone’s reactions.
Smirks? Eye rolls? Uninterested glances?
I hated this. My fear of critique had finally revealed itself. He was going to tell the class what NOT to do in an essay. Decimate it, dissect it, examine all the fuck-ups, point out the poor grammar, question why the author is even in this class, sign my paper with my own scarlet letter F. I started to get up from my desk and I think he noticed my discomfort because he took a pause and said,
“This is one of the most well-crafted arguments I’ve read all semester.”
Looking back, this seems like eons ago. But I still feel that awkward sinking feeling when I submit something or ask someone to read one of my stories. But that fear is there to let you know you can do better. That you really do give a shit about your craft.
I’ve learned to confront it now. How else am I going to be a better writer?
So, what do you fear?