Tuesday, August 6

Facing F.E.A.R. ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

Whoever said there is nothing to fear but fear itself lied. Yeah, I said it. Franklin Roosevelt and Barney Fife lied to us.

All my life I've had a healthy imagination. This is normally a good thing. I can dream up story ideas, brainstorm writer-friends' stories, and generally be upbeat and encouraging in the face of disappointments (theirs and mine). Lately, though, that healthy imagination hasn't felt so, well, healthy. It's felt downright overwhelming and scary. Lately, and by lately I mean the last year or so, my imagination has looked for the worst things to happen. Maybe it's the political climate in our country? Maybe it's that I've spent so much time looking for the silver lining in every single cloud that came toward me or my family or my friends that I've used them all up? Maybe, though, it's just fear.

Someone told me once that fear and fine were the two worst words in the English language. Me, being me, mentioned a few really raunchy curses, which led to a tilt of the head and a small smile. That's when he told me what fear and fine really meant. His definitions:

F E A R: False Evidence Appearing Real

F I N E: Freaked-out Insecure Neurotic Emotional

In a lot of cases, fear is as substantial as the imaginary ghost creaking in our hallways, that awful-terrible-bad thing we think *might* happen. Fear is our subconscious trying to protect us from the unfamiliar, especially if we've been burned - even only slightly burned - before in the past. Before I became a published author, I received at least 20 rejection letters from editors. I'd file them away and tell myself 'Next Time'. Start a new book. Move on. Then I became a published author. Editors wanted my books. People read my books and enjoyed them and wrote to me about them and editors kept buying my next proposals. Then my line closed. That was scary. Then the new line didn't like the proposal that the old line had loved. That was scarier. People would ask me how I was doing post-closure. My standard answer was, "Fine, I'm fine," and I didn't even think about what F I N E meant. I didn't think about what F E A R was doing, either. Because I wasn't afraid, I couldn't be afraid. I'd been through dozens of rejections letters, a long wait time between starting to write and selling my first book. This was just a stumbling block. It was something to be overcome, and the closure of a line, well, that was just a business decision. It had nothing to do with me.

Except, it did have something to do with me, didn't it? Because I was writing books that I loved when my line closed. So that meant, I was writing the wrong books, didn't it? And if I kept writing the books that I loved, I'd keep writing the wrong books and then I'd never sell another book because what I was doing was ALL WRONG. False Evidence Appearing Real. See what fear did there? It took what was a business decision by my publisher and made it all about ME. One single author in the space of thousands of other authors in a very glutted contemporary romance market. But F E A R made it my fault. And my fault wasn't just a little rejection letter about a single book, like it had been before I published. Fear made the fault every single thing I was doing. The stories I was writing, the stories I want to write in the future, the stories I'd written in the past. It was all wrong. And I kept telling people I was fine - everything's fine, I'm fine, the new book is fine. Except it wasn't.

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash
I wasn't fine, although I appeared calm and cool on the surface. I was freaked out, to the point I couldn't even admit to myself I was freaked out. I was insecure (about what I'd written in the past) and neurotic (what else would you call it when I put the whole line folding on myself?) and emotional (about what I wanted to write in the future and what I'd already written and how any of it could be okay or even good).

I was - and still am - afraid. Of what happened before. Of what happens next. There, I said it. And the world didn't crash down. It's still a sunny day outside and bebe is still laughing hysterically at Pat & Jen videos on YouTube. I'm not fine. I'm insecure. I'm emotional. I'm not entirely sure where I go next, but I do know that I don't want to be here...in fear, pretending everything is fine.

So how do I get where I want to be - writing again and doing all those writerly things? I truly don't know but I'm going to try two things. 1) I'm setting a deadline for myself to finish the next book. I'm going to set my butt in the chair and write with daily goals, small at first. I'm going to write this story for me, because it's a story I've wanted to tell for a long time. And when I finish the book, I'll send it off into the world and...we'll see what happens. 2) I'm making a fear list, kind of like the pro/con lists I'd make in school about this profession or that cute boy. Only the con side will be the fear and the pro side will be the counterpoint to that fear. Will it work? I have no idea, but I don't want to be afraid of the ghosties, real or imagined, and so I'm willing to try.

Have you faced down your ghosts?                                    ~ Kristina Knight


  1. What a great--and powerful--post! I believe I do, and have, faced down my ghosts, but I do it whimpering and howling.

  2. Liz is right. Very powerful, Kristi. You are a wonderful writer. Remember that. It's the market. It's not you.