Change Is Good, Right?

First off, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my fellow Irishmen and to all those who wish you were!

Second, my Act Like a Writer workshop ended last week, and I have had some time to think about the things we’ve learned. One of the biggest things about the workshop was facing your fears. Honestly, if you step back, what’s the worst that can happen if you flub a pitch or a panel or a reading? Dreadful embarrassment, most likely, and that has never killed anyone.

Even though our logical mind tells us this, fear is not logical. We spoke about our fears in the workshop, and they were familiar. Fear of babbling or stammering or not being able to speak at all. Fear of fainting or throwing up or falling down. Fear of embarrassment or insulting someone or provoking a confrontation. Fear of looking like a fool.

All of the above are very real fears. I share all of them, as do most people. They all stem from that little voice instructor Keith Strunk talked about, the one that whispers to us, “You’re nothing special. You’re not good enough. Just who do you think you are? Why should anyone listen to anything you have to say?”

I’ve heard that voice. We all have. But those fears, prompted by that voice, are not the fears that paralyze me. Face it, you don’t reach (mumble, mumble) years of age without having actually had many of those fears manifest themselves. Although those incidents were deeply uncomfortable, I’m still here. They didn’t kill me.

So what is scaring me so much?

You see, I also hear another voice, different than the “you’re not good enough” voice. (Did I mention that, as a writer, you are allowed to have voices in your head and still be called sane?) This other voice whispers, “But if you succeed, everything will change.”

Ahh, there’s the rub. Change and I, not good friends. I like my routines. Having a baby has made me a lot more flexible, but still…I like my life. If I get an agent, and we sell the book, everything changes. I go from being able to stop writing to play with my daughter to having to tell her occasionally that Mommy can’t play with her now. I go from being able to schedule my life around my family to adding in deadlines and crises (in business there are always crises—I remember that distinctly).

More than that, I go from being able write in comfortable anonymity to having to be public author persona. To have readings and signings and be on panels and do interviews, and all of those things that are so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even see them from my spot here on the couch. What sort of an idiot deliberately places herself in situations she equates with being in front of a firing squad?


Because I want this. I want my work out there. And this is what it takes to be an author in today’s world.

I can do it, too. Act Like A Writer showed me that not only could I do it, I could do it well. And if I continue to work hard at it, someday it may even be fun.


  1. Kerry:
    I often hear those voices that tell me I’m not good enough. I try to ignore them but it is very difficult. I’ve been published in short fiction and essay and I’ve even won a couple of awards for some of my writing, but the darn voice is still there. I just try to shut it off.
    I’m also bad with change and at 63 I’m not sure if that will…uh…change. I love a routine. Does “success” scare me? Damn straight it does because I will have to work harder to maintain it. Does that stop me from writing and submitting? Nope.
    I’m a writer. I’m crazy.

  2. You never have to be another person, Kerry. As you progress in your career, hold fast to the great person you are NOW> if you feel that you have to be different in success, you will never be at peace. You have faced so many of your fears, the best is yet to come.

  3. neptune1021 says

    Kerry, I can so identify with the concerns you have, although I don’t have children. Change is scary, because as a writer buddy once told me, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.

    As is now, I get to pick and choose which conferences / panels I would go to during winter months. I have a strong aversion to traveling during winter so how would I handle running a panel during a winter snow storm (I notice that Jonathan kept his signings going during the snow).

    How would I deal with health insurance writing full time?

    As a respiratory therapist, I’m used to telling Mike (he’s in a nursing home) I can only visit certain days because of my work schedule. How would writing deadlines, etc affect my visiting?

    But I want this also. Since jumping into the deep end of the pool doesn’t work, I’m gentling myself into it through the Night to Dawn book projects. I have had some issues now with the NTD books but also breakthroughs. I’m taking the scenic route but enjoying the ride.

    I enjoyed reading your post.

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