Being a writer is a terrifying business. From the moment I figured out that it was what I wanted, no needed to do, I have spent inordinate amounts of time scared witless. At first it was because I didn’t have any clue how to do it. I’d had some basic high school and college classes on literature and English, but other than having been an avid reader my entire life, I hadn’t created a story since the eighth grade. The simple act of putting pen to paper was daunting. Worse was my visit to a poetry critique group a month later with my first ever stab at a prose poem clutched in my sweaty fist. I was sure that I would be inferior, an intellectual Barney Fife wiggling my way into a chair next to people much smarter and more talented than I could ever hope to be. That I eventually became comfortable with both would be of no consequence because my fear just found new things to fixate on—like whether or not I could complete a whole novel or whether or not I could effectively pitch said novel to an agent. Then there was querying and navigating rejections, and a slew of other experiences that left me pacing my living room floor wondering why I was going through it.
Now I know what you’re probably thinking: Yeah, okay you were scared, but then you got an agent and a publisher and behold! Your books are out in the world. You’ve been validated, you can write, so you’re done with all that fear stuff, right?
Don’t I wish!
The truth is that the fear is always there. Always. It just changes its form like the creature in Stephen King’s IT, appearing as whatever terrifies me right now. Yes, there is a bit of validation from having an agent, an editor, and then readers love my book, but it is constantly cancelled out by this voice inside my head that says that each success is a fluke, that sooner or later my luck will run out and everyone will realize that I can’t in fact write, or that I had those two books in me, but no more. The fear is always, always there. That voice never stops shouting.
But that’s okay.
I believe that the most important thing a writer can have in order to keep writing is something I like to call courageous perseverance. Little by little, every time I’ve practiced it and kept writing or not left a critique group, or started a new novel I achieve some piece of my writing dream. I’ve learned to be fearful and write anyway. Do this and no one and nothing can stop you—not countless rejections, setbacks, failures, difficult story plots, or fallouts with agents/editors/readers. Do it often enough and eventually it will pay off. Good things will start to happen. Benjamin Disraeli summed up my feelings about it perfectly when he said, “Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.” I know how scary this process can be, how completely overwhelming and difficult and fraught with rejection, but anything worth doing always is. Always. Greatness is never forged in a fire other than fear. You have it in you to be great. We all do. Courageously persevere, write boldly and from the heart and that greatness will surface.
Amy Christine Parker is the author of Gated and Astray. She writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat.
We’re hosting a giveaway for Amy’s contemporary thriller, Gated. Comment below or comment on any of our social media pages for a chance to win! The giveaway will remain open until 11/7/14, midnight. And if you don’t win, you can pick up a copy of Gated from our local bookseller, Bookmark It! (Open to WA followers only.)
The synopsis: “Appearances can be deceiving. In the Community, life seems perfect. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pioneer invited Lyla’s family to join his group and escape the evil in the world. They were happy to be chosen, happy to move away from New York and start over in such an idyllic gated community. Now seventeen, Lyla knows that Pioneer is more than just their charismatic leader, he is their prophet . . . but his visions have grown dark.
Lyla is a loyal member of the Community, but a chance encounter with an outsider boy has her questioning Pioneer, the Community—everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. Her family and friends are certain in their belief. Lyla wishes she could feel the same. As Pioneer begins to manipulate his flock toward disaster, the question remains: Will Lyla follow them over the edge?
From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story of the Community from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple. Amy Christine Parker’s beautiful writing creates a chilling, utterly unique YA story. Perfect for fans of creepy thrillers and contemporary fiction alike.”