Fear and hunger in Las Sheffield

Sometimes even those writers who are experienced, calm and collected can find it difficult to get started. This is my take on how I currently feel, poised to begin writing my second novel. Yikes.

Do you know what? I think I might have the fear.
I’ve written a novel, completed an MA and spoken at lots of literary events. I’ve even set up a website to talk about writing and share what I’ve learnt over the years. Heck, every day I go to work and get paid to write.

But do you know what? I’m pretty sure I’ve got the fear.

You see, it’s a while since I wrote fiction on a regular basis. And I mean proper, serious fiction. Like a novel, novella or significant short story; anything I might write with an eye on publication.

I know why, too. It’s because I got married last month. We did everything ourselves. Bunting and cupcakes. Sign posts and service sheets. It took the best part of a year to build and prepare. And the hard work paid off.

It was beautiful. Best day of our lives. Wouldn’t change a thing.

But I didn’t write much fiction. I was busy here too. Working on this website. Making connections. Building a platform. All those things that writers do these days.

Especially when waiting. Like I’ve been waiting. For my first novel to find a loving home with a suitable publishing house. For one chapter to end before the next can truly start.

That difficult second novel. That fear-inducing entity.

I have a title, of course. 1989 Bird Notes. That’s an exclusive. It’s about a boy who likes birds and burnt toast and gets kidnapped. I have fully-written sentences. Paragraphs too.

So maybe I have started. Maybe I don’t have the fear.

No. But neither do I have the routine. I’m out of practice and out of the habit. To write requires both. What feels like fear is nothing of the sort. It’s simply trepidation. Anxiousness. Worry.

Of starting again. Of finding the time. Of writing the unknown.

Back to the beginning. I’ve written a novel. I’ve completed an MA and blah, blah, blah. I’ve done all this before. I know this feeling and I know that, eventually, it will pass.

I will regain the routine and I will find my rhythm. Rediscover confidence.

Once I’m writing fiction (my beloved fiction) I will cease to fret, dilly or dally. I’ll sit in my seat at my desk and I’ll write. It will come naturally. There won’t be a problem.

Sure. There will be times when this feeling returns and I’ll no doubt think that it’s the fear once more. But by then it will be something else again. I’ll be fidgety, crotchety. Not anxious, but hungry.

I’ll make myself a sandwich. All will be well.


eightcutsgallery@googlemail.com 21 June 2011 Reply

 You know I could have sworn that “I will find my rhythm” was going to take me to a Dulcolax advert.Knowing you’ve done it before is good. It means you know you can do it again. But be careful falling into rhythm doesn’t become going through the motions (there *is* something bowel-oriented about this post). To that extent fear is good. It’s why every performer will tell you to quit the day you don’t get nervous before you go on stage. When that day comes the audience will see right through you. So keep your fear. Hug it. Give it a corner of your sandwich, and start writing.

iain@writeforyourlife.net 21 June 2011 Reply

I like to think that every post is bowel-related in one way or another. It’s just that no one normally notices. You’re right by the way.

wneal@hotmail.com 25 June 2011 Reply

Ah, but don’t you know the song? Going The Distance. “bowel shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse”

kathryniwhite@hotmail.com 21 June 2011 Reply

OK, so as time passes, I feel that it is running away, like the sand in a timer and it gets harder and harder to apply myself and produce my work.  I know this happens to a lot of writers and some tip over to the other side and suddenly find there is a rhythm, they can sit and come up with the goods.  But to me, the more I write the less capable I feel.  So, it is that feeling, I tell myself, that spurs me on to write more.  Sadly Iain, once you’re a writer, you’re always a writer and will have to accept the frustration. 

iain@writeforyourlife.net 21 June 2011 Reply

Really? Bugger.
I think application is the only answer, actually. And to not take it all too seriously. I mean take it seriously, but remember that there are far more important things to worry about in life.

I intend to write, write, write this very weekend. 😉

cathylenn@gmail.com 21 June 2011 Reply

I also think it’s a personality thing. I have read that only those who are compelled to write – like they are compelled to breathe – are going to be successful writers.  As I generally find I am compelled to do almost anything else in preference to writing (I think this is because it matters so much and is therefore scary), this only reinforces the psychological block. But that tends to be the way I approach life and I doubt this will change (I’ve tried ALL the books LOL!). It’s very wearing at times!   That said, I have found it to be true that writing even only a paragraph every day is the best thing to keep it all going. The longer the gap – the worse it gets! 
I have every confidence in you – it’ll all find it’s way out in the end.

iain@writeforyourlife.net 21 June 2011 Reply

Writing every day is indeed a good idea, but don’t believe this nonsense that to be a decent writer you have to have this incredible compulsion. People have lives to live and writing is very, very hard work and a huge commitment. Successful writers tend to be determined more than they are compelled. 
And thanks for the kind words!

Anonymous 21 June 2011 Reply

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Anonymous 21 June 2011 Reply

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ravensquietscreams@gmail.com 22 June 2011 Reply

Want to know something? I could be wrong, but I think a little fear is healthy. It keeps us on our toes and doesn’t let up for a minute. Then again that might be the insanity talking – you know that haunting descriptive writers are afflicted with…(Hugs)Indigo

iain@writeforyourlife.net 23 June 2011 Reply

I think you’re right, it helps stop us getting complacent. I think I’d be much more concerned if I was going around thinking I was all Billy Big Balls. A little fear and hesitation can indeed be healthy from time to time.

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