Are you afraid to succeed?

Janet Grant

Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant

I’ve been thinking lately how often we choose not to succeed, despite our seemingly unending efforts to succeed. What’s with that?

I’m not just thinking about individuals but also about institutions.

Take publishers, for example. Here are two instances in which I’ve seen publishers make choices not to succeed.

One of my clients wrote a series of gift books that was a perfect fit for hospital gift stores. The publisher obliged this vision by creating lovely interior and exterior designs for each book.

My client, being the sort to take the initiative, located the gift shop buyer for a hospital system with large hospitals throughout her state. The gift shops sold significant amounts of product–and agreed to buy a hefty number of my client’s books. All the publisher needed to do was to call the buyer, take the order, and send the books.

But guess what? No sales rep at the publisher ever placed the call. Not because they were too busy, not because they didn’t want the sales, but because, best as I can tell, they were afraid to succeed. After all, what if those gift shops outstripped the publisher’s ability to meet demand? What if the shops placed a large order but then couldn’t sell the books to customers, and the publisher was hit with returns? What if…what if…

In another “please don’t ask me to succeed” instance, I announced on Publishers Marketplace, an online site where industry professionals let others in the industry know about certain sales, a nonfiction book about a woman working in a third-world country to eradicate a disease that debilitates and kills thousands of women every year. After the sales announcement, I received an email from a vice president at one of the big five publishers in New York who wondered if she  might make an arrangement in which her publisher co-produced the book and thereby increased its distribution. When I asked her why she would want to do so, she replied that she had read an article in The New York Times about the disease and had longed to do something to help eradicate it. She saw this as a win-win situation for everyone.

But when I approached the modest publisher who had made the offer to publish the project, they responded politely but never could find a spot on the calendar to agree to a conversation with the vice president. Imagine the in-house conversations: What if the other publisher muscles us out of the picture? What if we look like amateurs to that publisher? What if this is so out of our league that we make wrong decisions? What if…what if…

Lest we get too carried away thinking how sad to see publishers self-limit themselves, I have to ask if I would avoid success if might be able to represent a project that had the potential to be really big, like #1 New York Times best-seller? Would I manage to be sure I didn’t end up with that project and all the complex issues associated with it? What if  I envisioned a way to serve my clients, a way that could increase everyone’s financial gain but had significant risk attached to it? Would I explore that potential game-changer? What if…what if…

And what about you as a writer? What would you do if you thought up a book idea that was so great you got all jittery just thinking about it? Would you self-sabotage that book’s success? If you had an opportunity to appear on several national major morning talk shows, would you talk yourself out of it? What about speaking before a stadium full of people? And, on a more day-to-day scale, dare you ask for that big endorsement or for some famous person to write a foreword for your book? Or to set aside the manuscript you’ve labored over for years and jump into a new writing venture because it could be big?

What scares you about your writing career?

How do you decide if you should give something a try, even if it really scares you?

Do you tend to see possibilities in a new venture or what could go wrong?


Are you afraid to succeed in your writing career? Click to tweet.

Ways we sabotage success in publishing. Click to tweet.

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  1. In the second instance you mentioned, I thought there was more than a whiff of “not invented here”, a syndrome which is endemic in many institutions. It’s as if success would be diluted if it was not wholly original, and thereby not worth the effort.

    The fear of not being able to meet the needs or requirements of success is almost tragically ingrained in our society. Our heroes are physically remote from us, and we can’t see that they are just people, rather than stainless media paragons of competence. They simply do their best, within their ability of the moment.

    I hope I don’t sound immodest, but there’s nothing about my writing career that scares me. I learned a long time ago that my best efforts…are good enough.

    I can meet others’ expectations, because I know that my own are higher, and I can meet them.

    Also, in a previous career there were aspects of dread and terror intermixed. It would be foolishly arrogant to say I’ll never be scared of anything again – but the threshold is rather more distant now.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Andrew, it’s interesting to think that “The fear of not being able to meet the needs or requirements of success is almost tragically ingrained in our society.” If so, we each individually have a lot of unconscious limitations we have to consciously overcome.

      • I think you’re right about unconscious limitations, Janet.

        Aside from success requiring almost superhuman qualities, in this risk-averse society it’s implied that success comes at such a cost that it’s of questionable worth.

        Think of it – aside from the chaps on “Duck Dynasty”, have you seen many successful people portrayed in a positive light?

        As I write this I am listening to an old Billy Graham Crusade, and Rev. Graham just pointed out how many Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists were alcoholics or suicides.

      • Janet Grant says:

        Good point, Andrew. We either portray success as the end-all, be-all or as not all that enviable a position to be in. I think it requires strong moral character and a sense of how you’re not all-that to handle success well. One thing is clear: Success cannot make us better than we were before we were successful, but it certainly can bring us down.

  2. Jeanne T says:

    Janet, I hadn’t exactly thought about being scared of success, but I can see that potential within myself, if I rely only on ME to do the work. My fear of success tends to come more from the internal, thoughts, that have the potential to sabotage success. Having a couple friends who speak truth and who encourage help me move beyond those moments of fear.

    When I evaluate whether I’m going to give something a try, one question I ask myself is: When I look back in five years, will I regret not doing the thing I’m considering. If the answer is yes, then I move forward in doing it. Even if it’s scary in the moment.

    Thanks for this post. You’ve got me thinking, yet again. 🙂

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jeanne, the question about whether you’ll regret not pursuing something when you look back five years from now is a good test to push yourself forward. It’s a positive version of “what if.”

  3. Micky Wolf says:

    Wow, you certainly got my attention with this topic, Janet! Depending upon the idea or concept that is incubating, I can definitely get distracted with the ‘impossibilities’ of a writing venture at times.

    My list of reasonable, and to some extent factual explanations for stopping–or worse, not really committing in the first place–is enough to scare me into stutter-stop mode. And one of the biggies? What if, after spending a lot of time/energy with a project, it turns out to be so much blah?

    My, my, how we can talk ourselves out of following our heart and gut instincts at times…which is why I have the quote in the header of my blog–similar to your question Jeanne–to remind me to keep going. 🙂

    • Janet Grant says:

      Micky, your so right that the fear our work will be mediocre is pretty daunting. It’s hard to plunge ahead and put lots of effort into a project if the creator of that manuscript thinks of it as ho-hum. Yet, if we don’t try…

  4. Lori says:

    Believe it or not I was more scared of success as oppose to failure. I was more used to failure than I was to success. At times I still expect failure and I am surprise, even now, when I encounter success. I used to say be careful what you wish for you just might get it.

    As to your questions:

    What scares you about your writing career? Everything. Will I be rejected by agents, publishers etc. Will people buy my book. Will they like it. Will I be able to write another. This list goes on and on.

    How do you decide if you should give something a try, even if it really scares you? I got to a point in life where I say why not. If I am going to fail lets do it royally. However, it seems when I take that attitude I somehow seem to succeed not necessarily the way I want to but the results seem to outweigh what I was expecting.

    Do you tend to see possibilities in a new venture or what could go wrong? Both, but more of what could go wrong.

    • Janet Grant says:

      The decision to plunge off the cliff and thereby to possibly fail miserably is scary. Yet, when I consider if that’s better than dangling one’s toes off the edge, I think the plunge-in-hopes-of-being-caught is the better route. Clinging to the edge certainly can’t bring success.

  5. Katya says:

    You know, Janet, this post was like a bucket of cold water poured over my head. I think this is exactly what I do!

    I came up with an idea for a gripping, fast-paced storyline that paints mental illness among us Christians in a very different light. I even wrote the first chapter and polished it to the point where I’m very happy with it even though I criticize the heck out of my own writing. And you know what? The manuscript has been sitting on my laptop untouched for at least a month, and I do not have a good excuse for that anymore.

    Could it be that I am just afraid of what will come out of it should I continue working on this piece? Am I afraid that I am actually onto something here? As ironic as it sounds, I think that’s exactly what has been holding me back.

    🙂 Ahh the benefits of reading this blog… I always learn something useful.

  6. So thought-provoking, Janet! I have often wondered if we writers are a bit more prone to “the depths of despair.” We work hard to brainstorm the what-if’s of a plot. We struggle to put emotion on paper, causing us to experience it ourselves as we pour it out. It seems only natural that our minds would transpose that what-if thinking to our personal lives.

    Writing does scare me. But the dream, the goal, the passion runs so deep that I can’t not try. Better to have written and been rejected than never to have written at all.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Meghan, I think you’re correct that writers tend to be thinkers who feel their emotions deeply. And that can lead to lots of second guessing about one’s ideas and abilities. I like your conclusion that it’s better to have written and been rejected than never to have written at all.

  7. Hrsh Vashishtha says:

    Nice observation about our most common fears: scared of success, scared of winning! Really most of us always find ourselves busy in figuring out of the factors that may stop us being succeed. However, working on what we have that may make us win may certainly do best for us.

  8. Sarah Thomas says:

    The second scariest verse in the Bible is Luke 12:48 – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

    Sometimes it scares me to think that if God gives me my heart’s desire, he’ll expect me to live up to its potential. Mediocrity can seem so much easier.

    • Janet Grant says:

      One of my least-loved Scripture passages is the parable of the talents. If I’m “safely” burying my talent, God is seriously displeased with me. Oh-oh.

      • I’m guilty of burying my talent. One of the biggest hurdles to get over a few years ago was choosing to take the leap to share my writing with others. Relinquish the key so to speak, and allow others to read, comment, and critique. It’s not been half as bad as I made it out to be in my mind.

      • Janet Grant says:

        Jenni, isn’t it true that often what we fear isn’t half as bad as we had envisioned it? If only we could remember that!

    • “Sometimes it scares me to think that if God gives me my heart’s desire, he’ll expect me to live up to its potential. Mediocrity can seem so much easier.”

      Very true, being mediocre IS easier, but who ever said “I owe God all my mediocrity.”
      I’d rather try and learn in the failures, than stay in my corner and count the various ways I could have succeeded, but instead, I gave up and stayed safe.

  9. I don’t think I’m scared of success, per se, but rather of what it would demand of me and my time. I think I’d be afraid of what I might have to sacrifice. Still, I don’t think I’d self-sabotage. I think I’d be more likely to dive in all the way, and if I wasn’t careful and relying on the Lord to lead me, sacrifice important things without realizing it. That’s why I’m grateful for friends and family who keep me honest, and a God who will never give me what I cannot handle.

    Great post. Lots of good thoughts in the comments too!

    • Janet Grant says:

      “Success” is a complex package. If it weren’t, we’d all be grabbing the brass ring. Success brings with it the pressure to succeed over and over again. And suddenly people “know” you and ask you to help them succeed. How do you decide whom you can help and when you’ve reached your limit?

  10. Michelle Ule says:

    The manuscript I’m working on has some significant features that make people excited when they hear the story. When I shared elements of it at Mt. Hermon, an important writer got very excited, which was fun.

    Except, “you cannot screw this up. This is an important book. People have an idea about this and you cannot blow this terrific story.”

    Which spooked me for weeks. I kept thinking about the magnitude of the story. Was I capable? What if I made a mistake? And so forth. I was frozen.

    A couple weeks later, however, as I was praying about this story, the Lord brought to mind Joshua and Caleb entering the Promised Land. 10 spies came back talking about the giants, focusing on the giants, trembling before the thought of giants and what might happen.

    Joshua and Caleb, however, pointed out the land had been given to them by the Lord, they, the Israelites, just needed to go in and take it.

    They had plenty of hard work to do, of course, but God had given it to them. Go!

    That’s exactly how I feel about my story. The giants are still there. They are big. This is hard work. Important people with vested interested are involved. But, to me, the hand of God is all over it.

    When I took my eyes off myself and put them where they belonged–on God and his leading–the fear went away.

    I don’t know what will happen with this manuscript–sort of–but the things I personally have gained by writing on it are huge and, well, the Promised Land beckons. 🙂

  11. Sandra Phillips says:

    Sometimes seeking success is scary just as you mentioned because once you obtain it there are certain expectations that I worry I may not be able to obtain.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Yup, that whole thing about how complex success is shouldn’t be ignored. It’s kind of like, who wants to be President of the United States? It’s supposed to be the pinnacle of accomplishment, and yet, oh, my…

  12. Anne Rhoades says:

    I know there are things we all do every day to subconsciously sabotage ourselves from success. My heart POUNDS in my chest every time I send out a query. I tell myself it’s a great way to raise my heart rate since I wrote all day instead of jogging. Must. Try. Again.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Anne, I love your perspective about how scary publishing moments at least get our heart rates up after we’ve sat all day. It’s almost enough to make me do something risky…almost.

  13. Janet, I enjoy playing the “what if” game! I love seeing the glass half-full, and I like imagining what it will take to tip it to overflowing.

    To point to the brilliant last sentence in Andrew’s comment with regard to fear, I “get” what he’s saying.

    When our oldest child was given a slim chance of survival several years ago, that became my reference point. Everything else paled in comparison as God eventually healed our son in a way we’d not planned or expected. “Success” was our son lived. Everything after that was gravy. NOT without some lumps, but life-changing, emotionally and spiritually.

    My family’s season in the valley taught me that as long as we still have a breath in our earthly bodies, we have the potential to shake off our manmade trappings and rise to the greatness that God intends. It may not be without risks. We may face adversity. A time of endurance. Perhaps, a little egg on our face. But… then again, we might grow from that time of testing. Mellow and improve like a fine wine. And what does a little egg hurt? That’s why God gives us napkins!

    What scares me? That I won’t be able to get the words out fast enough… 🙂

    Thank you for kick-starting my creative juices on this dreary day in the Ozarks!

    Cheers! I’m heading for coffee!

    • What an amazing testimony to the power of faith…and I am blessed to hear your son was healed! Valley-walking for us has always been a time of leaning…leaning on or in His arms of strength, even when the outcome was not as we hoped.

      Happy, happy Monday…

    • I love that phrase, “God gives us napkins.” You’ve obviously learned it the hard way.

    • “Everything after that was gravy.” I love that statement, Cynthia! I, too, have a moment in my life beyond which everything after it was gravy. Sometimes I think God trusts us with that defining moment to show us where the other things He will ask of us fit in comparison.

      I survived that moment, so speaking to a stadium of people or risking failure in the publishing world (or elsewhere) to do something that just might be His special calling for me? Gravy!

      That certainly does not mean I’m bold and fearless every time I press send on a proposal to my agent or on edits, galleys, or whatever else I am working on. Most times the opposite is true.

      That just means I send it anyway. Not by my power, but by His.


    • So glad you shared this with us Cynthia.
      I’m reminded of a phrase in a devotional I read awhile back. If ____, then God.
      Based on our individual life experiences, the blank space can be filled with any number of devastating things.
      A few years ago I experienced betrayal in a close relationship. Gut-wrenching in the way in shook me to the core.
      But wait, there’s more to the sentence and the truth. Then God. He’s given me an abundance of reasons to praise His great faithfulness.

  14. Jill Kemerer says:

    Oh boy. This speaks to me.

    It’s like the Israelites when they feared going into the promised land–they could see it was a rich land, but they couldn’t see past the obstacles. God blesses us when we put our faith in Him. If I’m afraid of success, I pray He gives me the strength needed!

  15. Carrie Padgett says:

    Great though-provoking questions, Janet! I’m not afraid of rejection, but God has been showing me that perhaps I’m afraid of success. I have a fear of not being able to meet expectations. Last week I watched a short video of Elizabeth Gilbert speaking to a group. She said, (paraphrased), given the huge success of Eat, Pray, Love, it’s quite likely her biggest success is behind her and nothing else she ever writes or does in this life will equal that accomplishment. But she’s persevered and continued to write. That’s an encouragement to me, who tends to obsessively rewrite and polish until I’m so tired of the manuscript I shove it aside and start the next one without sending the first one out into the world for its shot at success. Time to garner some more rejections. Thanks, Janet!

    • Janet Grant says:

      I appreciate the Elizabeth Gilbert story. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to have a major success, and to sense that you already had done your best work. Don’t you think Harper Lee suffered from that same fear and chose to let To Kill a Mockingbird be her last book? We feel sad about her choice, but it’s how she decided to handle success.

      • Yes, I completely agree about Harper Lee. At times I feel sorry for us that she made that decision. Perhaps it would help if we knew if she made the decision consciously or if she was so paralyzed by fear that she allowed the decision to be made by her own inaction.

  16. Janet,

    I believe this agency is one of the most positive influences in the writing sphere. I appreciate the way you all aren’t afraid to look at truths and still find the silver linings! What a joy it is to continually be encouraged!! (I know I used too many !!!)

    Scares me most about my writing career? My blessed mother (85 years young) will never see my published novel.

    Before I was married I just tried things…my father was a wonderful influence with the attitude…”Well, give it a go, and see if you like it.”

    Then, I married a very practical man who likes to “pencil” things out. But, he is also willing to take a risk, if it looks like the idea has potential, and we PRAY a lot!

    We’ve had some fantastic adventures…even though sometimes they weren’t financially profitable, the benefits manifested in other ways. Buying a cattle ranch was one of those economically unprofitable but extremely valuable experiences. Our entire family…and now our grandchildren are continuing to reap the blessings of that decision.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post. And here’s to a tea-riffic week everyone!! (Raising my tea cup)

    • Janet Grant says:

      Kathryn, I feel the pathos of your concern that your mother won’t ever see your published work. But that, of course, is a reason to press forward with vigor! What a grand dream come true that could be for you both.

      • Kathryn, I agree with you with my whole heart. My dad didn’t get to read my completed novel either. But he read the start of it, and he said, “It needs dialogue.” I smile now when I think of that. My first critique.

  17. Elissa says:

    “How do you decide if you should give something a try, even if it really scares you?”

    I use that oldie but goodie: “You only fail when you don’t try.”

    I think one reason some writers might sabotage themselves is that it preserves the dream. If you don’t query, for instance, you won’t get rejections. You can still dream of making it big “someday”.

    Rejections are a slap of reality that wake you up from the dream. They require you to buckle down and actually work if you want to succeed. It’s much more pleasant to skate along in dreamland, imagining success rather than dealing with the struggle to achieve it.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Elissa, thank you for your insights about how we long to stay in la-la land, dreaming of success, rather than having the cold water of rejection awaken us from our dream. Snoozing rather than working is so much more a pleasant, albeit unproductive, way to exist.

  18. I am scared that when I get in front of a room full of Native American readers, or anyone, really, and they take issue with what I’ve written, that I’ll sound like a babbling idiot trying to put a sentence together.

    Which has actually happened, ask a few people who saw me at ACFW. And ANYONE at airport Customs and Immigration. Seriously. Just pick anywhere.

    But, I remind myself daily, that God has given me a Navajo advisor who insists on 100% accuracy, as do I, and who loves Jesus. So, anything that is printed with my name on it will have been combed over by someone who lives the culture that I portray in fiction. Having someone stand beside me who can say “She knows exactly what she’s talking about, don’t worry that she’ll have Navajos in tipi’s and wearing eagle feather war bonnets and saying ‘how’ to everyone they meet.”

    I’m scared of becoming full of myself and forgetting I’m just one of many. Thankfully, I have 4 kids who’ll take good care of smudging the sheen of my self-importance.

    If we don’t try new things, we turn away from the road ahead of us and stagnate on the gravelly shoulder, watching our friends pass us by, on their way to new things.

    There’s a great Spanish proverb, used in Baz Luhrmann’s film “Strictly Ballroom”.

    “Vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias.”

    “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.”

  19. What scares me about my writing career?
    -Jumping the gun by sending a MS too soon. (already did this)
    -That I’ll define success by how it looks on another person, rather than asking the Lord what his plans are for me.
    -That my creative juices will gush like a flood and hinder my productivity (too much daydreaming gets me nowhere)
    -That I’ll hold back from allowing others to read and critique my writing. But I did send some material to a few contests recently, so the Lord is really helping me in this regard.

    Welcome back to the west coast Janet!

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jenni, well, one way to deal with fear is to make all the mistakes you’re afraid of. Isn’t it funny how our strengths often become wrapped with our fear–your concern over what to do with all that creativity struck me that way.

  20. Scared? I think of Luke Skywalker who says to Yoda, “I’m not afraid.” To which Yoda replies, ” You will be.”
    I’m afraid of everything and nothing in my writing career because nothing is impossible with God. Writing is a daunting, terrifying endeavor.
    Give me a stadium full of people, national TV…anything. I’ll be nervous, but I’ll do it to the best of my ability. And, boy, will I pray that the Lord gives me the words He wants me to say!
    I believe in what I’m doing, and I trust God with it…whatever that might mean.
    But I’ll make mistakes, which I don’t like, maybe I’m even a little afraid of making mistakes. J.I. Packer stated what must be an old saw, “It is said that those who never make mistakes never make anything…”
    So, am I afraid of success? Try me. 😉

  21. Susan Roach says:

    This post and all the insightful comments took me back more than 20 years to a Sear’s parking lot. I was 19 years old, watching a little old couple shuffle to their car, hand in hand, grey heads bent. I thought, “When I am as old as they are, I want to look back at a life lived without regrets.” Every time I’ve faced a major decision in my life, most of which were terrifying in some way, I’ve thought of that old couple. I pictured them when I decided to become a missionary, when I decided to marry my husband, when I decided to have children and when I decided to come home from the mission field. Each time, I thought, “When I’m as old as them, will I regret not having done this?” And each time, the answer was “Yes.” So I did it, each time. And what blessings were waiting for me on the other side of my trepidation! Now, I’m tackling the scary task of writing a novel. I may not succeed. That’s fine with me. But I refuse to grow old and regret not trying.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Susan, good advice. We need to challenge each other to “go for it” rather than living with the regret of not having tried. Not trying leaves us with a very different version of “what if.” Instead of picturing all the things that could go wrong, not trying leaves us wondering what might have gone right.

  22. Spot on blog post- as usual. I’m feeling some of this right now…my recently released book reached n.1 bestseller at Kinokuniya but insteead of flying with it I find myself retreating, not answering calls, and not wanting to appear at some events. I have no idea why. Probably because the question: “How did you do it?” isn’t an easy one to answer. I guess this is a good problem to have but I’m glad you addressed it here…

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jennifer, might I suggest you commit serious time to bask in the delight of your success? The question, How did you do it, is a splendid opportunity to deflect any “fame” by talking about how an author, working alone, cannot find her audience. It truly takes a team.

      • Yes, that’s very true, and was definitely the case for me since it was the editor and publisher who ‘found’ me (not that I hadn’t been looking but with other projects)! Next time, I will stress this even more. Thanks!
        I guess the main thing I’m dreading is this marketing/business meeting at which bizzarrely I’m the guest speaker…not sure what they want me to say. Certainly can’t give any lessons there…just a little writer here.

  23. A very important question, Janet, and one most people don’t want to acknowledge. Becoming successful usually means changes, and it’s surprising how many of us like our lives just the way they are, thank you.
    Your stories remind me of my uncle, who grew and milled the best wheat in the world. He sold small amounts to neighbors, (whole wheat flour) and when a grocery store asked him to supply their needs, he refused, saying his mill was too small. He didn’t want to put out the expense of getting a larger mill, which meant taking on debt, which meant having to have a predetermined number of sales to make the payment, which meant he had to grow more bushels and mill more, which meant….. changing his life. It’s good to remember that we are here because Christopher Columbus said, “Sail!”
    If I had a “jittery” book idea, I’d probably run it past you, (laughing here.) And would definitely talk it up on tv. How cool would that be! A stadium full of people? Boy, I’d be shaking in my boots. How do you prepare for that? Only by standing on God. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Only way. Big endorsement? Nope, not me, that’s the agent’s job. (It is, isn’t it?) The famous person? Yes, I’d find some way to approach them, but would be very humble and sincere in asking. The old manuscript, new venture? I’d have to love whatever the new venture is, not just do it for the money, and still try to get the old manuscript done, just to have the satisfaction of finishing it.
    I’m afraid I won’t get all the stuff I want to do, done. Scary-smary. If we live our lives scared to try something, what’s the use of living? I always look at both sides of a new venture and try to make an educated decision.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I have the feeling it will make people brave and willing to attempt work they have been fearful of trying.

  24. I already was afraid of success. Then I launched my first book. A short one but one that got downloaded more than 3200 times. But right afterwards my brother had a massive heart attack and died. I’m about to launch book number 2. I am fighting the fear of success and all the memories I have from February. Loved this post. I want to face my fears.

  25. Great post. Interesting to see that even publishers can be hesitant to take the risks needed to garner success.

  26. Sherry Kyle says:

    Great question. The answer is yes. The bottom line for me is that I build things up in my mind of how things could be, but have been disappointed in the results so many times. Sometimes it’s easier to let the “chips fall as they may.” Of course, I need to do my part, but I let fear keep me from going full force.

  27. Linda Taylor says:

    I’ve know I was born to write since early childhood. No doubt in my mind. First, there was the fear of disappointing those who loved me. Combined with that was the fear of failure. I don’t think I ever had fear of success, except I’ve read articles that say we don’t really let ourselves see that one; we just continue to hide in the fear of failure.

    I was glad to see a couple references to the fear of mediocrity … or perhaps I should say the rejection of mediocrity. Ironically, that is probably more of what I now pray for as (finally) I prepare my first book for ‘shopping around.’

    Committing to the task of a finished book is such a huge education and undertaking, I have accepted the inevitability of facing rejection letters as more education. The same for determining a publisher. I guess I think that advanced education will prepare me if (God willing, of course) success is in my future.

    I’ll be happy to simply entertain my readers with my happy romances!

  28. Jenny says:

    I do this all the time. I don’t mean to but I keep thinking ‘what if no one likes this?’ or ‘what if I’m asked for an interview?” Success scares me but I long for it. The novels (a trilogy) I’ve been working on for sometime won’t leave me alone. They ‘pick at me’ if I don’t work on them. It’s an ache, a hunger, a desire, I have to finish them. After that, the marketing scares the bejeesies out of me. I think it’s what is holding me back from finishing. I don’t handle rejection well, and the road to success is paved with its share of rejection. It’s a vicious circle.

    • Janet Grant says:

      Jenny, you’ve listed most of the fears writers harbor. Perhaps an approach in which you just take the next step and not worry about all the others after that would help you to move forward.