Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What Is Your Greatest Fear as a Writer?

Writers are by nature intense creatures. I really believe people who are creatively inclined tend to experience life, well, more intensely than other humans.

Combine that with trying to break into or stay afloat in a tough publishing business, and the writerly pursuit is not without its fears and anxieties.

So what is your greatest fear as a writer? A horrible review? People not liking your book? Obscurity? Paper cuts?






267 comments:

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Munk Davis said...

Poor writing.

jbeemills said...

Writing something and later discovering I'm the only one on the planet that can relate to it.

Sierra McConnell said...

Never getting published.

I really don't care what happens afterward, I don't think, because people will think what they want. If someone believed in me enough to put me out there, that's enough for me.

Sabrina Shields said...

To have a GREAT story in me, but not have the ability to translate that great idea into words on paper.

Raj said...

Writing something and then discovering that it's already been done!

Jamie said...

I think my biggest fear is that I'll write something, get the go to get published, and by the time it's out on shelves it's irrelevant. That any market the book had will have evaporated in production time.

Then, toiling away in obscurity.

Anastasia V. Pergakis said...

I thought really hard about this. At first I thought my greatest fear would be people not liking my books. But then, I thought some people will love it but there are some that won't. It's the nature of things.

I ran through many other ideas in my head of what I would fear in this industry and I honestly couldn't think of anything that really made me 'afraid'.

I know I'll be published and that some people will love my book. I may never be hugely famous and my books might never become best sellers. I think in the end, my biggest fear is me giving up. And since I'm stubborn and will never quit, I really have nothing to worry about!

Sean Craven said...

I am absolutely terrified about the actual value of my work. I am aiming as high as I can, and I'm scared of folks like Dorothy Parker and Hunter Thompson whose squandered their talent or folks like Harry Crews and John Irving who make their statements, then get lost in a maze of self-referentialism, or people like Mark Leyner who start strong and then vanish up-current to a money stream or people like Barry Hughart who start strong and then just plain vanish with mixed and unconvincing explanations. I'm scared of people like Elmore Leonard who construct comfortable one-man sweatshops where they turn out the same lovely piece of work -- same story, same characters -- once a year.

Unfortunately, this hasn't scared me to the point where I've stopped writing.

Scooter Carlyle said...

I'm from a very small town, and my book takes place in said town. I've addressed most of my major fears regarding my writing: failure, crappy dialogue, rejection, etc.

The biggest fear I've yet to kick, should I be published, is what the reaction of my hometown will be. My parents and my siblings still live there or near there. I still consider it home, and couldn't imagine what it will be like if there is a backlash against me.

Delia said...

Oh, that one's easy. My biggest fear is that I stink like yesterday's garbage.

Terry Odell said...

I think my fear would be worrying about making each book better than the previous one, and wondering if the first ones were just flukes.

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Justin W. Parente said...

Mine is fighting to get published, only to then discover someone might have to similar of a story concept as mine, and they reach it first. That, IMO, would hurt the most.

Karen Tavares said...

Ultimately, never being published but there are a couple other neuroses that come a close second and third.

Susan Baganz said...

For fiction - that I'm not actually good enough to get published and all my hard work (and fun) was for naught. For my non-fiction - that what I have to say is really not that important after all and will have no positive impact on my readers.

Remus Shepherd said...

My fear is that I am so strange the human race does not, and never will, want the stories that I have to offer.

Or in short, I fear the public will validate my damnation.

Anonymous said...

I'm only afraid because I believe myself. I keep saying I'm talented enough, and believe it, but I could be wrong. That's scary.

Janet Fox said...

That I don't improve. That my work declines. That I get lazy/rushed/distracted and don't write the best possible book.

That I haven't given it my heart.

Leigh said...

What Raj said really summed it up for me. That I would write something that had already been done. A while back, every time I would come up with an idea for my WIP, I would read it in a book a couple of days or weeks later. At first I thought I was just a book psychic but then I realized I just need to be more original.

Also, sucking is a big fear.

Cameron Chapman said...

My biggest fear is mediocrity. I hope that my writing will get a reaction, and I really don't care if it's positive or negative. My greatest fear is that someone will read what I've written and their response will be "meh."

Joseph L. Selby said...

It's a tie between

1) Creative overlap and the popular assumption that I plagiarized some famous author's work when in fact we both just had the same idea

2) Being misinterpreted or misunderstood and then pigeonholed as an X author (x = sexist, misogynist, racist, what have you)

Anonymous said...

Going blind or losing the use of my hands, either of which would diminish my reading and writing experiences. Both my eyesight and my hands are going out at about the same rate. They might hold up until the bitter end; might not.

JenniA said...

Writing something that I think is great and have it fail to land on an agent's desk. Coming up short and feeling the failure.

Anonymous said...

Becoming a has-been or losing my mind so that the words don't come...

M.J.B. said...

My fear is that I'll never quite be good enough to capture an agent/publisher's attention (enough to get published). It is a life dream to make a career out of telling stories, regardless of how difficult it is, and dying without having achieved that goal would be unfortunate. But I guess I'd have bigger issues to deal with, then. :-)

Nicole said...

Not being able to share my story. I love these characters and this story so much, and I just want to give them to the world. (wow-that kind of sounds lame. oh well.) I've worked my little tush off to get this close and if it doesn't go, I'll feel like I've let down my characters.

I'm not sure this is the same as fear of not being published. I just want people to know my characters, to feel what they feel and be moved by it in some way.

When I first joined my crit group years ago, I was thrilled that people were talking about and reacting to my characters. And that maybe, someday down the road, they'd think about my story again and perhaps it would trigger their own imagination or muse.

So, yup, just one person falling in love with my story. That's enough for me.

http://www.crystalshadeangeni.com said...

Good question, Nathan. Hmmm... reviews? No. That's useful instead. Critics? Nope. That's also very useful. Only one thing is flippig into my mind that about we already talked. Agents are considering and rejecting my work without actually reading it... which is very actual nowadays. And the second would be; never getting published, but... but as self publishing is always an option I would draw this one out.

So the first one is my "clear and present" fear.

Anonymous said...

Losing it. Just losing the creative imagination.

Istvan Szabo, Ifj. said...

Good question, Nathan. Hmmm... reviews? No. That's useful instead. Critics? Nope. That's also very useful. Only one thing is flippig into my mind that about we already talked. Agents are considering and rejecting my work without actually reading it... which is very actual nowadays. And the second would be; never getting published, but... but as self publishing is always an option I would draw this one out.

So the first one is my "clear and present" fear.

Nate Wilson said...

I'm afraid I'll be just successful enough to have deadlines imposed upon me for future books, but not successful enough to quit my day job so I can adequately meet those deadlines.

Three Fixed Hearts said...

Sending you my query letter ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid of success. How do you live up to it? How do you meet everyone's expectations? To me, that's scary as hell.

DRC said...

My worst fear? No one else getting a chance to experience the world I've created, regardless of whether they like it or not.

I, like so many others out there, have put so much hard work into my writing. I've struggled, I've researched, I've edited, I've been rejected, I've researched some more, I've re-edited, I've been praised, I've been shot to bits, but I still soldier on. That's because I love what I do, am passionate about what I do, and believe in what I'm writing.

I just don't want all these ideas floating around my head to be wasted.

Jill Thomas said...

I have two terrible fears. The first is that I will ALWAYS be a writer. The second, I won't.

Loralie Hall said...

Had to think about this one for a while, especially since I agree with 99% of the comments before mine. But I have it.

That no one wants to hear what I have to say.

Sherri said...

My greatest fear is realizing my first published book is the only publishable book I'll ever write.

Marty said...

Letting-go with both hands . . .

Martin Rose said...

Success. Easily the most terrifying thing. Failure is easy. Failure is comfortable, because I'm so used to it. I've had more panic attacks over being published than I've ever had over being obscure for the rest of my life.

Wes said...

I think I have two main fears: not being a good enough writer, and the "well" drying up.

An Authentic Life said...

What "they" said...all of the above. Great comments, btw...

Elizabeth said...

Procrastination followed by tremendous guilt, Procrastination followed by tremendous guilt, Procrastination followed by tremendous guilt...

Backfence said...

American Idol Syndrome. Being the only one who doesn't "get" that I lack talent. Some (most?) of the contestants on that show are are god-awful, but they are flabbergasted at the suggestion they lack talent.

Second fear: Being really good but never getting published.

Lisa Kilian said...

Being as small as I think I am and proving through what I write.

Lisa

Mohd Arief said...

People not liking it and the inability to fully translate what I see in my mind to paper.

Kelli said...

Failure. In any form. Fear that the voice in my head is right and that nobody will be interested in what I have to write.

howdidyougetthere said...

My greatest fear as a writer is calling myself a writer.

MBee said...

My biggest fear would be for someone to read too into one of my stories and tell me I'm a mysoginst or something equally awful that was totally unintended.

While I don't intentionally write life lessons for people to learn (although I suppose they are in there), I also wouldn't want someone to take away something bad from my writing, because that's definitely not the intention.

Farrah said...

My greatest fear as a writer (apart from the obvious not being published, inspiring none and failing to make a living from it) is that I will become content with how I write and fail to actively improve. On the other hand, I fear that listening to too many critiques will take away my own personal voice and make me another yuppy, by the books writer with an amazing grasp of literary greats and grammar but without an ounce of heart.

Sharon Cullen said...

That I'll be a one-hit-wonder.

Holly said...

That novel-stealing robbers will break into my house and steal my laptop...

That my dog will jump on the couch when I'm gone and sit on the laptop...

That an agent/editor will ask me to revise it again and again until my hair turns white and all my teeth fall out and I never get to write another one.

Paul Neuhardt said...

Showing my work to someone, having them declare it to be crap, and realizing that they are right.

David said...

It used to be obscurity, but I've come to accept that. (Or I'm lying to myself, and I'm still trying to accept that.)

Nowadays, it's fear of the effects of age. What if I lose the ability to write? Plotting, vocabulary, ideas, etc. That thought terrifies me.

Rick Daley said...

My greatest fear is that I'll needlessly sacrifice something important (e.g. work, family) in pursuit of a dream that may not come true.

Amy Mullis said...

Losing my sense of humor. As a humorist, it's crucial to make people laugh. And on days when I need to buy a vowel to file alphabetically, smiling can be a tougher proposition than trying to make the boss look smart.

Richard Gibson said...

I write non-fiction, so my greatest fear is royally screwing up something factual that I failed to research adequately.

Anne Gallagher said...

Success.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from a swanky northeast MFA program; now I'm afraid that if I am pubbed, my friends (all amazing writers, if their work is somewhat inaccessible) will secretly be seething at my ineptitude, which isn't really ineptitude, more just an eye for the commercial.

Toby Speed said...

I haven't seen my fear in this list yet. My biggest fear is that I'll die in the middle of writing a book and never get the chance to finish it.

Steppe said...

All of the above comments so far in healthy doses leading to my emotional drug of choice, the heroin of anxieties, not finishing my current project. Somewhere along the line you know the project is ending and there's that weird feeling of satisfaction like a long car trip is ending and the timelessness dissipates getting ready to make way for the cheaper intoxicants of exhilaration and crestfallen silence. The world and its politics can never match the brain drugs I get from wrestling a story to the ground and sweet talking it into calling Uncle.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

That each book is the last book I have in me.

Carol Riggs said...

Intriguing question--and answers! I agree with Anonymous about losing my hands or eyesight. I'd add Alzheimer's or a stroke that makes my mind unable to write.

OR, my first thought was having doubts about revising a novel for an editor, managing to improve it greatly, ta-dah!--only to have my computer crash or a thunderstorm fry my PC, losing my entire work. Yikes!

minawitteman said...

My greatest fear is that people won't leave me in peace and that they will gobble up all the space I need to plot and plan and write.

Noelle Pierce said...

That I will get published, and then realize I lost interest in the writing process (I'm fairly new to it). Or that the flow of words stops coming. Completely. Forever.

abc said...

This brings to mind that famous speech from On the Waterfront "I coulda been a contender".

My biggest fear is that I'll sabotage myself. That I'll never believe in myself enough to really go for it. To give it all. To push forward through the doubt and rejection. That I'll get too sad and give up and then one day think back and be really pissed at that long ago Alison who coulda been a contender "instead of a bum, which is what I am".

Anonymous said...

That I might ever consider changing my writing style and purpose to suit the commercial demands of an agent or publisher.

Briana Lafferty said...

I have written several books (yet to be published) It is not about the money or noteriety, yet my fear is that my first novel will never be published. Why is this one the most important? Because I believe more than anything I have ever said or written it has the ability to save a soul.

lora96 said...

Never being good enough to be published.

Rachel Menard said...

Having a reading and laughing at one of my own jokes while the audience sits completely silent.

Donea Lee said...

My greatest fear is that I actually, well...suck. Or my writing does. That I have this passion in me, writing's the only thing I really want to do and ultimately I'll come to find that I never really had a talent for it at all. There are sooo many wonderful writers out there... scary.

Hillsy said...

I'll take the fear of being rubbish and raise it.

I'm worried most that I'm actually very good, and I'll treat writing as a hobby because, through lack of self-confidence, I'm too afraid to fully commit. This is especially pertinant in the "Look at ME!" society

Elisa said...

I am occasionally paralyzed by the fear that I am just no good as a writer (despite my success this past year), or that I'll never write anything good ever again. This happens especially when starting a new project or in the middle of revising one. It propels a bad spell of writer's block, and often results in my having to psych myself out by giving myself permission to write a sucky draft (and even a sucky novel, if need be) that no one needs to see or know about.

I take some comfort in knowing that some of my favorite (and mega-talented) writers have this same fear, but it doesn't stop me from experiencing it.

Tee said...

Not finishing.

Christine Macdonald said...

Tapping in to the part of myself that left the stripping life - falling back in to hold habits - not moving forward because I have to look back so much.

Christine Macdonald
Memoir Writer

Helena Halme said...

Bad writing followed by obscurity.

S J Bradley said...

Thankyou for this post - and I agree that writers as a breed can definitely be a bit too 'intense'. You spend so much time thinking deeply about things, and immersing yourself in the inner life of your characters, by nature it's going to make you a bit weird. At least, I tell myself, that's why I have troubles in social situations...

Worst fear: probably that what you do is no good, and that nobody is ever going to be interested in it. A lot of writers suffer from this (I was encouraged recently to find out that even EM Forster didn't think himself a very good writer).

Caroline said...

Indifference. Playing to the crickets. I'd rather inspire hate, *some* conversation, than have people shrug, or, worse, never read it.

Second fear is related -- finding out that I'm delusional, and that everything I ever wrote was gibberish -- so bad that people figured I was a loss and could only pat my head, say, "Uh, good job," and back away. Slowly.

Cue crickets.

heather said...

Losing the ability to write something that grabs the age group of readers I write for (ya). I love ya and always hope I can produce novels they enjoy.

Anonymous said...

Not getting published would be my biggest fear. I have so many stories to tell and share with the world.
Another would be that no likes the stories I have to tell. Eek! I know not everyone is going to like them, that's just how it is. However, if no one likes them, well then that just sucks.

J. R. McLemore said...

Never finding my audience.

Bane of Anubis said...

I second Ricky D's statement.

modicumoftalent said...

Running out of ideas.

Amy

Anonymous said...

Having to deal with readers. I'm so not a FaceBook, Twitter, public readings, author signings, gregarious kind of person. Just because I wrote a book doesn't mean that I'm anyone's BFF, much less everyone's. I'm offering my writings, not my personal life.

JD Salinger never published the many books he wrote after Catcher in the Rye. Quoth he, "Publication is a terrible invasion of my privacy."

Adele Richards said...

That my favourite literary agent would leave the industry and go and work for CNet.

;-)

misa101 said...

To be a commercial success who is mocked by fellow writers.

dawn-metcalf said...

To have the book be misunderstood/misinterpreted and know that I cannot possibly respond.

Andrea said...

I have an almost paralyzing number of fears, but right up there with never getting published is getting published and not having anyone understand, relate to or like what I wrote.

Deborah Burns said...

Finally getting published only to have my book flop. I don't want to be that lone writer, sitting at a table of my books with the endless stream of humanity glancing over only to have them continue on. I can see the thought bubble now "[Title #1] with fancy cover, what the dump is that author thinking? Who'd read it?"

Anonymous said...

My greatest fear? That my work is actually really good but no one will give me a chance because I'm new...

Anonymous said...

#1)plagiarism lawsuit

#2)zealot I offended tracks me down

#3)family I offended tracks me down

#4)forced to go on Oprah

Backfence said...

Another thing that's scary is taking that big leap of acknowledging to people that you write ... or referring to yourself as a "writer" when you are still unpublished.

The mere mention of my efforts to get a book published elicits subtle little looks or a snicker among some ... let's call them "friends" (or perhaps not) and/or family members - like I'm manifesting delusions of grandeur. (YOU - a writer?) I am very selective as to whom I confess this ambition ... So, I'd have to say that putting myself out there is right up there at the top of my list of greatest fears.

SWK said...

That I will not be able to make my next ms as strong as the last one.

Dorothy L. Abrams said...

My biggest fear is in being superficial; not that I ever intend to short cut or skim the surface but in the crush of daily living sometimes my writing fails to plumb the depths of clarity.

K.L. Brady said...

I'm okay with someone not liking my work...and I've worked through my whole fear of bad reviews. I can accept criticism too.

I think not finding an audience is a big fear.

I also think people not "getting" my work in the way I hoped they would.

Or to have really put my all in something and it still sucks. (The worst).

D.G. Hudson said...

Greatest Fear? Not getting published is probably the biggest. I'm not out for fame, but I would like to capture the hearts of those who like epic science fiction stories. I want my stories to be read by other readers.

I'm not out to self-publish for several reasons at this point, but I wouldn't rule it out entirely. I'd like the validation that comes with traditional publishing, but I've learned to never say never. Keep an open mind.

After all, what did they say in Dune as part of the Bene Gesserit mantra: 'Fear is the killer. . .', etc?

I want to be like Edith Piaf, 'I regret nothing.' If I didn't write, I'd regret it for sure.

Thanks for keeping up the writing conversations, Nathan!

TERI REES WANG said...

Failing my self, by not stepping up and offering a full and clear picture.

I want to entertain, and impress my own Self...and everyone else.

Cheers!

K.L. Brady said...

@SWK...that's a big one. Forget trying to live up to someone else's greatness...what if you can't live up to your own.

As I write a sequel to my first book, I look at the mixed reviews Terry McMillan is receiving on "Getting to Happy." It's like when you've written "Waiting to Exhale" where do you go from there? And can you live up to that...even if you write a decent book. Aye yie yie.

Keetha said...

Indifference.

GhostFolk.com said...

Yes, what Keetha said. Greatest fear is that I will wake up one day and not like writing any more.

Publishing is its own little turd bowl, but if loving to write goes away... well... casket time.

Kaitlyne said...

Never getting published in spite of all the years of work I've put into it and having beta readers tell me they're sure my book will find an agent.

[OotoriJaz] said...

plagiarism scares the living shit out of me

Sarah said...

Never finishing a book.

Tim Riley said...

I'm working on my first book, and my biggest fear is not finishing. I've written 52K, so the end is in sight, but still, that fear of not finishing remains

Cheryl Wright said...

That I will let my over-thinking, procrastinating and insane obsession with perfectionism keep me from writing the book I've wanted to write since I was 7 years old.

See what I mean?

M.A.Leslie said...

Never being good enough no matter how much I practice or how much I read and write.
To love something so much and never be able to share it with others.
To put my soul into something and have it stomped on like dog crap.

Anonymous said...

RACISM. Majority of people tend to praise Caucasian writers even if they have "poor writingcapabilities." While if you are asians no matter how great you are when it comes to grammar and perfect composition still is you are inferior from these so called group of "White supremacist." Truth be told.

Corey Schwartz said...

As a rhyming PB author, my greatest fear is that I will go press with a glitch in meter! YIKES! I would die. Ha.

Hannah Jenny said...

Never finishing a book. And, yep, haven't beat that one yet :(

John said...

Right now my biggest fear is that I'll send out query letters and never get my book into the hands of an agent.

That I'll never be evaluated for my writing and the 90,000 words of blood, sweat, and tears will be wasted to the system.

I'll move on to my other fears when they're relevant.

Stephanie McGee said...

My biggest fear is that I'll actually be a raging success. I would rather be solidly midlist with a devoted following who helps keep my sales numbers steady enough to keep selling books to publishers than a J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

I know it sounds weird. But that's my fear. I know that if it's in God's plan for me to get a book (or more) published, I will. I just have to do everything I can to work toward that goal. Beyond that, it's out of my hands.

Gretchen said...

I am afraid I will never actually finish my book. There are so many steps after that one, and I'm sure I'll be afraid of those too (never getting published, publishing something no one reads, publishing something everyone says is crap, etc.) if I ever get that far.

Gina said...

That's easy... that every agent I query will reject me and I will never get published.

It's a horrible feeling to create something you're proud of and not be able to find anyone who believes in it the same way you do.

Anonymous said...

My biggest fear is that I won't have the courage to be completely and utterly transparent in my work. If I'm going to put myself out there, I don't want to be boring.

Marilyn Rodwell said...

I suppose that one of my greatest fears at this point,is not enough people in the book market interested in my story, which is about the plight of Indians in the Caribbean in the early 20C.

Star-Dreamer said...

There could be a lot of things that frighten me as a writer. One of them happened just recently: my computer broke down and I hadn't updated my back-ups yet. very scary.

Then there is, of course, working so hard on something, rewriting, studying the genre and technique, growing in your writing style, sending it off to be looked at...

only to get the response that your writing is a piece of crap. That hasn't happened to me yet, thank god. I hope it never will. *shivers*

Anonymous said...

That I'm delusional about my writing talent.

Bettelynn said...

That the world ends....

Ramona said...

That everyone will tell me to my face that my book is great then laugh behind my back :(

Emily White said...

Failure.

Whatever form that takes. Whether my writing wasn't good enough, I never get published, my stories don't reach people's emotions the way I want them to.

I'm simply terrified I'll be a failure.

EB said...

Being average. Especially: being average because I let what's popular push me to write averagely (sic).

Emily Anderson said...

To be published, fail miserably, and end up back where I started, but worse. At least on this end there is hope. If publishers won't publish you because they haven't had success selling your work, what is there to dream for?

Strangely enough, my second big fear is to make it huge. I would hate to make celebrity status. Somewhere in the middle would be nice.

Travis Erwin said...

At this point I gotta say it is that all those people are correct. Me selling a novel is nothing more than a pipe dream. I wanna prove them wrong but more and more I have trouble convincing myself they are wrong.

Sarah said...

Right at this moment, having checked my email and found nothing, it's the fear that none of the book proposals I've got currently with publishers will get accepted (two were being 'presented' at a meeting ten days ago) and that I won't be able to think of anything else, and that the other projects I have in mind I won't be able to write well or complete, or write at all. So I'll have to drop this trying to write full time nonsense and go back to trying to make a living.

Feywriter said...

That my writing will never be good enough to make a career out of.

A.C. Tidwell said...

Honestly? My family has a history of Alzheimer's. I wake up every morning with hundreds of ideas leaking to the surface and that is exciting and beautiful. But I know it's only a matter of time before I can't remember them anymore. That is my greatest fear.

Maggie said...

My greatest fear as a writer is becoming discouraged and quitting. My current manuscript might never get published and my second one might never get published either, but if I let rejections and failures get me down, I will probably give up, and then, I will most certainly never ever realize my dream.

I know that with time and practice I will improve as a writer and maybe even produce something worth publishing, but if I get discouraged or lose my passion, I will most certainly fail.

Ulysses said...

That I'm good. Conversely, that I'm bad. One carries the burden of expectations, the other the weight of unfulfilled hopes.

Also: insurance salesmen.

T. Anne said...

Biggest fear is that the call will never happen. I'm working with someone right now, and I'm anxiously awaiting that moment. It would be nice if I could get the call before the holiday's and fend off my well meaning albeit prying relatives with the response 'yes I finally have an agent'. But a part of me thinks, what if the agent just isn't interested, and the call just never happens? It's tuff to think about.

Ulysses said...

Oh, yes...
You don't get away with asking a question like that, Mr. Bransford, and NOT providing some answer yourself.

You've been unpublished, published, contracted and marketed. At this point in the business, what's YOUR greatest fear?

Sue Roebuck said...

Boring the living daylights out of your readers, and then boring them to death with the continuous "pimping" of the writer's platform. Guilty as charged.

Chris Phillips said...

Feeling like I've wasted my time or I could have done something to get published, but just didn't.

Nathan Bransford said...

ulysses-

Fair enough. My greatest fear is overcommitting myself and not being able to keep up.

Becky Wallace said...

I know we're supposed to write because we love it, but I really hope there is a light at the end of this very dark, long, twisty tunnel. Because really, if I never get published I will stay in the claustrophoic darkness FOR.EV.ER.

Oh crap...anxiety attack.

Anonymous said...

All of the above .

Savita Kalhan said...

Going out of print because you haven't understood the first law of being a published writer - publicise your book cos it's all about sales!

Josin L. McQuein said...

I dread the moment, after the book is published, bound and on shelves, when I realize that it would have been so much better if I'd changed just one... more... thing...

(Hello, my name is Josie, and I'm a compulsive editor.)

Sierra Gardner said...

I'm really private and it takes me a long time to feel comfortable around people. So my biggest fear is the part of success that involves interviews, public appearances, etc. If I could be successful and obscure that would be amazing.

Ulysses said...

Nathan: Thanks.

I can see where that would be a concern, just judging from your participation here, your contributions elsewhere, your fiction writing, and the demands of a full-time paying gig on top of that. I've frequently been in awe of your ability to maintain your enthusiasm in the face of a workload I don't believe I could handle.

But then, all I know about balance is this: don't try to pick up a three-year old with one hand while holding a plate of spaghetti in the other. It doesn't end well.

reader said...

Poverty.

J. T. Shea said...

I AM NOT AN INTENSE CREATURE!!!!!!! WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GIVE YOU THAT IDEA!!!!????

justinistired said...

Dying alone, but with lots of great prose at my side.

Anita Saxena said...

I agree with Rick Daley. I also fear perceiving my writing is good when it's actually bad, or bad when it's actually good.

Emily Cross said...

Spending your life writing. And never ever getting published. Because you can't write. :(

Anna said...

My greatest fear is that no one will read my work. Or that I will die before creating my masterpiece.

John Keats was said to be so upset about his negative reviews that it aggravated his consumption and led to his untimely death.

Of course, he accomplished more in his 25 years than I have. In a few weeks I will be 26 and have yet to write anything particularly brilliant.

How's that for fear? Or maybe I'm just neurotic.

JoAnn said...

Good or bad. It doesn't matter. My work is my legacy. My biggest fear is not finishing it. And after that, drying up.

Scars Beneath The Skin said...

That it's all a waste of time, I won't amount to anything, and I should be at the pub with my mates instead.

wry wryter said...

My biggest fear is that all the effort, has been a colossal waste of time.

I am a published writer so I can at least say that but I would love the validation of a book.

Ms. Trite says:
Best be the dreams that come true, the ones that don't marry someone else.
I've been married thirty years so that dream 'between the covers' is set...I sure would like a couple of hundred pages between the other covers though.

hannah said...

Every single idea I get feels like the last one. Every time I'm writing a book, there's a voice in my head going, "That's it. This is the end. You don't have anything else to say."

So two fears go hand in hand: that I'll run out of ideas, dry up, and never write again, or that I'll keep writing the same thing over and over because I don't have anything else.

Jeffrey Beesler said...

My greatest fear is going a day or more without writing even a single sentence.

Mira said...

I'm afraid of both success and failure, but my first fear is that my fear of those will paralyze me and I won't write my book.

Matthew Rush said...

My greatest fear is that my dream agent will leave the business before I ever get to query him properly ... er, oh - wait a second ...

Just kidding. My greatest fear is that I will get so frustrated with the traditional publishing route that I decide to self publish, or go with a small press, and then end up mired in obscurity.

Michelle said...

My biggest fear is remaining an aspiring author and never more than that.

elczenius said...

That anything I get published will be reviewed as "just like [insert famous author]'s writing!" I'd hate to be known as a poor mimic of a great author I admire.

wonderer said...

It's a toss-up between:

- never being published

and

- being published (in novel length) once and selling so poorly that I'm never published again.

See Elle Oh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
See Elle Oh said...

Lots of things about writing scare me. Sometimes I'm afraid I don't read enough or widely enough or the right things. Other times I fear not having the stamina or the stomach to make a serious go of it.

My biggest fear, though, has to be that I'm not good. That somehow I managed to dupe all the people who ever complimented my work, or that the good stuff was a fluke.

All She Writ

Ted Fox said...

I'm with you, Michelle--never dropping that "aspiring" moniker.

Julie said...

My greatest fear is that I'm kidding myself and maybe, I suck.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Hmmm... that's a tricky one. I'd have to say the worsts fears for me would be 1) never becoming as good a writer as I want to be, or 2) never having a chance to write all the stories I want to write.

Jeanne said...

That I'll find out that while I'm good at expressing myself with words and relating descriptions of my observations, I suck at storytelling or coming up with innovative fiction.

It wouldn't be a total loss. I could focus on creative non-fiction. But would I still be able to dream of being a novelist?

Shane said...

Fears? We don't need no stinking fears! (Said with a cheech and chong accent.)

Nothing. I fear no one or nothing. Well, except that guy who pointed a gun at my head once, I was in a bit of a pickle that day.

As a writer, nothing. Do what you love, love what you do and let the chips fall where they may.

Ok, enough trite, cliche's... TIME! Not enough time in the day to get the story out and on paper, err, disk.

crow productions said...

I went as far as writing it, querying about it, sent it in to an agent... I haven't heard anything. What if they hate it?

Anonymous said...

Mine is exactly was Sabrina Shields said.

Shayda Bakhshi said...

That all my blood/sweat/tears, careful research, and wordsmithing prowess will be no match for the powers of Bad Timing.

"I love this project, but I just recently sold something like it. . ."

"I'm not taking clients anymore. . ."

"I'm not a literary agent anymore. . ." *COUGH* ;)

(In all seriousness, you are awesome and I think it's cool you're doing something new and exciting! But I did have to throw that in.)

But yeah. That's got to be my biggest fear--doing everything right, but submitting at the wrong time/with the wrong project for the agents/market.

Although I'd be willing to bet that if I'm successful, I'll have a whole new slew of fears, which is both exciting and scary.

Cathi said...

My greatest fear is that I've put the last 5 years of my life on hold for nothing...

Rane Anderson said...

My greatest fear is dedicating all of my time and energy and soul and hopes and...and.........

and then not arriving at the goals I've set for myself.

I try not to think about my fears about writing and publishing, though. It will only hold me back.

Jodi Henry said...

That Stephen King will read my novel and tell everyone I am a hack.

Oh, wait, he's already done that to someone.

Okay new, fear.


That no one will read the things I want to write about.

Or if they do it will be in the bathroom for lack of anything else to read.

J

G said...

My biggest fear is being ignored.

Katherine Hyde said...

1) That I will never publish a novel.
2) That I will publish something that I will later be embarrassed by--that I will fail to live up to my own internal standard of excellence.

Susan Lewis said...

My greatest fear is that I'm not good at it and don't have the ability to be great.

Leah said...

That I'll never finish. Or if I somehow manage to complete a whole book... that it'll be crap.

Lillian Grant said...

I used to be terrified I would never get published. Now I am terrified that with one book out I will never get another one published. The time it takes to get a response to submissions in the publishing world doesn't help. It has me on the edge of a breakdown 24/7.

johnvise said...

Never getting that first bloody book sold.

johnvise said...

Though rationally, once that book is sold, I'm sure another greatest fear will develop.

Wendy and Charles Siefken said...

My greatest fear as a writer is that no one will like my stories. I have been working of finding an Agent for almost a year now and still haven't had any luck yet. I have edited and revised but still no takers. Now I find that you are no longer an agent! I will keep trying and keep revising. But I fear I have edited as... much as I, a non professional, can do. I hope someday you are open to receiving queries again. Have a great day,

Henya said...

Paper cuts...number one on the list. Seriously...I'm afraid of success. That means going out there and having to talk about my book and, oh boy, about myself. I am not that interesting. I am not that good of a writer (Oh...the voices...the voices. They'll kill me).

Will Foley said...

I'm actually torn: I have two.

The first, obviously, is not getting published. That would be terrible.

The second is not expressing an idea where it would fit perfectly, like if I come up with some new scene that's just filled with crazyawesomeYEAH, but won't fit into the book where I am now, but rather at some later point. And then once I'm past said point, I look back and realize that I forgot to use that awesome scene I had envisioned, and that if I went back to rewrite it would make the plot's direction look like a squiggly line.

Mariam Maarouf said...

I don't worry much about people liking my book - I can't please everyone and other people have already told me they liked it. But my greatest fear as a writer is people not liking my *writing* per se - technique wise.

I'm a science-lover, and I believe that everything, including writing, should follow some certain rules and guidelines, and if my writing doesn't follow it, it means that I, as a writer, have failed to make my writing worth reading.

Anonymous said...

"I really believe people who are creatively inclined tend to experience life, well, more intensely than other humans."

Some might think that's a little self-indulgent.

I remember a great line from an old film that went something like this: Some people drink because they are poets, some drink because they aren't poets.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Lately it's been that my writing doesn't live up to my ideas.

If I were to be published, it'd probably be inadvertently writing something that can be interpreted as offensive and getting labeled as racist, sexist, etc. I know some people will not like whatever work I produce anyway, but I would hate to write something so poorly that it could be misinterpreted like that.

Heidi said...

Haha, paper cuts. Just kidding. I would have to say either that 1) I never finish anything properly or 2) my writing is actually terrible.

JDuncan said...

This is a hard one. I think currently, my greatest writerly fear is finishing my three-book debut contract and having things go so poorly that I never sell again. It's that whole, "dreams achieved and then dashed" thing. It's an irrational fear and I don't think it will happen, but it's there nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

My antidepressant keeps me from writing well so I've just stopped taking it. Doing so has done leaps and bounds for my writing inspiration and output. I need to feel certain feelings in order to write what I have got to write. I fear both finding out that my writing is not worth putting my well-being on the line and also that putting it on the line is the only way to write.

Jil said...

That my computer skills will not get my manuscripts out formatted in the way I have spent so many hours preparing them. The one time I did send something the rejection came advising me not to send things in pink! Pink?

wheresmypencil said...

My biggest fear is putting all this time and effort into doing something I love and am acutally passionate about and discovering it's no good. I'm no good. That my writing, the story, everything is so bad my own family won't even pick it up. And yes, even though I'm on my third revision, no one but me as actually read what I've written.

This kind of failure I've never experienced in anything, and yet I'm more terrified of it than anything else because writing is the one thing that has and always will just be me; my thoughts, my words. And if they fail I'll have no one to blame.

Magdalena Munro said...

I am deathly afraid of mediocrity....something that has plagued me since having been besieged by the happy bug for about a year now. (Yup...I'm one of those writers that writes best when wallowing in angst)

StaceyW said...

While I was writing the first draft of my first novel, I experienced this fleeting fear each time I sat down to start a new section or a new chapter or even a new sentence that I'd somehow lost my touch.

That I no longer had the ability to craft strong sentences. That I'd lost the drive that kept my fingers flying across the keys. That I'd lost the ability to write, period.

It was irrational - and thankfully unfounded. I can still put a sentence together. I'm still driven. I'm still a writer.

And I completed the manuscript.

Now, my greatest fear is that it won't be published.

Lia said...

That I only had one good idea and I already used it up.

(Otherwise, what Sherri said!)

Niki Schoenfeldt said...

Working to hone my craft all this years only to find out I suck.

Aimee Dearmon said...

That I'm kidding myself. That I'm one of those fools who considers themselves a writer, but can't really write any better than a British mute can speak Chinese.

Also, that my real endeavors are nothing but a huge waste of time.

February Grace said...

Writing like a coward--meaning worrying too much what other people will think of the work.

It's been a new experience for me the past year, and only started once I began looking into the idea of finding an agent. I hate that.

I quickly realized I'm not cut out for the 'business' end of writing, and now, I just want my art back.

I'm trying to find my way back to fearless writing, but it's proving more difficult than I'd imagined in my nightmares.

My fear? Staying where I am now. I have to get beyond it.

~bru

Bryan said...

Bears.

Becky said...

not finishing my novel after I told everybody I was writing one.

Alex Adams said...

That the zombie apocalypse will start before my book hits the shelves. I don't think zombies are big readers.

Harbinger of Truth said...

My greatest "FEAR" is spending an entire lifetime BEGGING literary agents like yourself to look at my work and being turned down, only to be discovered and become a raging success after I either commit suicide or get hit by a bus, because my death will make me "more marketable."

Benjamin Keay said...

Becoming posthumous before my time.

EBM said...

There are 180 some odd responses before mine and the likelihood of this being read is low....so I will be completely honest.

My biggest fear is losing my ability to write.....my voice. I know the day is coming when Alzheimer's will silence me and yet I still have so much to tell the world.

Anonymous said...

For my writing to have just about as much substance and depth as a Stephanie Meyer novel.

anonymous-writer said...

My greatest fear is that I will stop writing. That I will lose time, or lose passion. That I will forget how great it feels to start a book and how great it feels to end one.

My greatest fear is that in a few years, I will look back and think "Why did I waste all of that time?"

Micky said...

I'm definitely most afraid that I'm just wasting my time with writing. I'm terrified that I suck, and that no one's going to tell me until I've spent hours writing and editing my novel. I've been told all my life that I'm a good writer, but these people are my friends and family. What if the moment I query an agent I learn that I'm a horrible writer with no chance of a career? Talk about depressing!

M. M. Justus said...

Never being read.

Becca said...

My greatest fear is not liking what I'm writing myself. (however grammatically incorrect that sentence was.)

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