Fear is My Friend

If anyone has glanced at my blog since February, they might have asked the question: Where did Christy go? The answer: I’ve been writing. The novel I was concerned about in February, the novel whose revision eluded me for months, finally came clear. Princess of France, now renamed Queen’s Pawn, has been revised both to my satisfaction and my agent’s, and is now out among the editors in New York. When will it be bought? Only the gods know. But I thank the Muse who feeds my soul. One way or another, I will get my novels into the wider world.

This blog is about the nuts and bolts of writing, the uses of going to conferences, the ways of finding an agent, the perils along the road to selling your work. But what about the writing itself? What of that moment when the first draft is finished, and I sit there, just me and my manuscript, alone in an empty room?

There is nothing quite like the first draft, before any of my first readers have read it, before I have even re-read it myself. Those pristine pages, the first blush of creation, is one of the most amazing moments of being a writer. That silent, scary time when what I’ve written could be good or bad, when only the Muse and I have seen it. The moment is full of uncertainty: I have only myself and my work, and the long silence that comes after a draft is finished. When I ask myself: What if it isn’t any good?

Well, good or not, I send it out, and my readers respond, both with praise and criticism, making the novel better as I begin the long, slow process of revision. But before I take a deep breath, and expose my work to others, and to my own inner editor’s voice, I take a moment to savor not only the pleasure in the finished work, but the fear.

Fear is my friend. It is with me at every turn in the road, at every new endeavor I undertake. It stands with me at the crossroads, when I enter into new country. Before I can see anything else, my fear is with me. It is a spur as well as a challenge. At every point in my life that leads to something larger, at every moment of choice that leads to something better in myself, my fear is always with me. My companion. Another Muse. Another friend. A harsh friend who goads me, who asks, “Can it really be done? Can you really do it?”

Without that friend to ask the question, I might never hear the answer.

“Yes, it can. And yes, I will.”

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