Monday, May 7, 2007

Fear and the Journey

by Maggie Toussaint

In the beginning there was only darkness, and chaos reigned. Then I said why the heck am I wasting my life in a job I hate (but which I was trained for and well paid for), so I took some time off to write. Since then there's been no darkness in my heart, only light, but chaos is still a regular companion.

I've thought for a few days about this week's topic of "what keeps you going" and I've finally found my answer. Fear of failure keeps me going. No kidding. That's what it all boils down to. In order to prove I didn't make a mistake by walking away from my science career, I am driven to continually improve my writing craft.

I thought the fear would subside once I got that magical publishing contract, that I would slide into an oasis of writer's nirvana, and life would be golden. But, if anything, that fear has intensified. Now the fear is that my next work won't measure up or won't be so highly acclaimed. But that fear keeps my butt parked in the chair and keeps me working hard on writing and rewriting.

My conclusion is that a little fear is healthy. It keeps me focused on what I want to accomplish. It keeps me reaching deep for words that resonate with readers. And it gives me an edge that I wouldn't ordinarily have. All of those things are necessary (for me) to achieve success.

And, since I missed last week's post on what I've accomplished in the two years of our "maven-ness," I wanted to address that too. Book contracts aside, I found my groove. I'm busier now than I ever was before, and that's saying something because its no easy task to raise two active daughters, stay married, and have a full-time career, which is what I did for many years. I found my groove by being true to myself and that came out in my writing. I quit thinking of myself as a wannabe writer and accepted that I already was a writer.

I'm glad to be here, to share the journey with these other fine writers at Mavens of the Pen. Because the journey is just as important as the destination.

Keep on writing.

Maggie Toussaint
House of Lies, available now

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