Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I was at yet another bookstore appearance (Borders Macquarie) and was lucky enough to get a visit from my copy editor, Abigail Nathan. In between me talking and selling, we had a disjointed conversation where she mentioned the fear of speaking to people versus the fear of putting yourself out there through your writing.
At the time I didn't really think about it - being somewhat more occupied with chatting to people - but it struck a real note with me.
Fear is an ever-present part of your life when writing.
When I was younger, I just wrote because I wanted to, because I loved to write. I sent books off to agents because I was blithely confident and knew no better. But, as each successive knockback came, the fear began.
What would people think of this book? What would people think of me?
Sending off a manuscript is at once a simple exercise - and one of the most daunting things you can undertake.
Asking to be judged - it's a big call. As I've written before, it's not unlike those reality shows such as Australian Idol, where you put yourself out there (albeit to a smaller audience), inviting criticism and hoping for acceptance.
Going to a bookstore and talking to people is like this, only on a smaller scale.
Yes, you are inviting people to reject you - but you go in with the mindset that this is going to happen. You know many of the people you talk to won't like reading in general and fantasy in particular.
Besides, after you have put your manuscript out there and it has been accepted, a little rejection in a bookstore is less of a worry.
But the fear does not go away.
There have been times when you think: This is all too much. When it seems as though it would be easier to stop writing, stop appearing, just walk away to a place where there is no fear.
But what keeps you going is the reaction from readers, and from people you speak to in stores.
Hearing that someone loved reading your book, chatting to someone who is excited and eager to buy your book - it is the perfect counterpoint to the fear.
I guess I've found that while the fear can be strong, it brings with it a positive reaction that's just as strong.
Yes, I get afraid. But it brings me alive at the same time.


  1. Great post! It's comforting to know even published writers have that fear of rejection-- not just those of us on the precipice of querying.