Fear, Faith, and the Foggy Swamp in Between

During March I swept aside doubt and decided to revise an old manuscript one last time.  It has something to do with my belief that the MC’s story should be told. Whilst being plopped into a fictional setting, the nucleus of his story is factual.

There are times, however, when focusing on a message can cause the demise of a novel. I know this but I’m persevering anyway. It’s one of those things that will niggle at me indefinitely if I don’t obey the impulse.

I don’t think it’s perfectionism or fear that has kept me from sending this story out into the world although my daughter, Shari Green’s recent post on creativity and perfectionism gives me reason to question my rationale. Shari says,

I think fear is at the heart of perfectionism. Fear of failure, of not being good enough. Fear of disapproval. Fear of disappointing others or self. But when it comes to creative endeavours, here’s the thing: perfectionism kills creativity.”

Maybe it IS fear. Nevertheless, I honestly believe this story isn’t well enough written so I’ve been revising yet again despite wondering if I’m sucking the life out of it.

At Tricia Sutton’s blog today I discovered she’s pushing herself out of her comfort zone with a manuscript, too, and her words hit another nerve:

“I didn’t really begin the query process. I got scared. Then I misinterpreted fear for “not ready”. I told myself fear is my inner voice telling me to revise … again. And again.”

There comes a time when we have to have faith that what we’re doing is worthwhile, that if we’ve enlisted God’s help he will guide us in writing, refining and recognizing when the time is right to proceed. At that point we’ll know if it’s time to either move our writing out into the world or move on with something else.

At the moment I’m slogging through the swampy place between fear and faith. I wish the fog would dissipate so I could see with clarity.

How about you? What holds you back? Is it fear, procrastination, uncertainty? Or is your manuscript simply not ready?

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8 thoughts on “Fear, Faith, and the Foggy Swamp in Between

  1. Laura Best says:

    I think I’m over that fear factor. My attitude for the longest time now is, they don’t know me and it’s nothing personal. I’m more likely to be procrastinating these days. But there are times, Carol, when we realize that a story is missing something and sometimes it takes ua awhile to figure out what that something it.

    Best of luck with those revisions.

  2. joylene says:

    I like to believe it’s relevant to instinct. If you recognize the fear yet that little voice inside still says, This needs work, then enjoy the process. In my world, there’s nothing better than taking good writing and making it outstanding. That transformation is music to my ears.

    BTW, thanks for those music links. They’re fabulous!

    • I enjoy revising/editing but after a lot of it I wonder if the initial spark has been lost by all the reworking. You know, the words may be better but does it retain the spirit and voice? That’s the question I hear from contracted writers whose editors have them labouring through repeated edits. I suppose at that point you have to trust your agent/editor’s wisdom and experience.

  3. All of the above.

    I’m sure my novel isn’t ready as I have to insert several chapters to flesh out the second POV character. However, I left it sitting for months while I debated whether the message was getting through. I don’t think it was, and I’m not sure it is yet. I also have a bit of fear of putting it out for others to read. It isn’t the possibility of rejection that worries me, it’s simply that no one has read it yet and I’m wondering if the whole idea might be ridiculous.

    • As Joylene mentions, there comes a time when we have to trust our instincts. In the end it may be a story you write only for yourself, but if it’s important enough to you, you should at least finish it. Then let Beta readers have a peek at it… a critique group, or writing friends… and let their opinions help you decide whether to pursue publication for it.

  4. Tricia says:

    One of the words of advice that I often hear is start a new project. Since I began a new novel and a few short stories, I’m not as joined at the hip with my main focus. My fear has lessened since it’s not my main artery anymore.

    • That sounds like good advice. Although I find it hard to concentrate on more than one storyline at a time, I temporarily left off the writing of a new novel to go back and revise this older one. The new one is still beckoning me, however, so I think I might have to give the balancing act a try.

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