Thursday, February 12, 2015

Of Fear and Fire

I'll admit that I'm scared.

For years I've cobbled together books. Some have been good, most have been terrible, but all have been crafted in the pursuit of something more. I want a better life, a brighter future and something profound offered by each written page. Progress is a sort of promise; an assurance that I can get where I need to be. The more I write, the closer I am to my goal.

I never realized how far away I truly am. Replies have passed before my eyes in what seems to be a swirl. Most of it's positive, really, praising the writing, complimenting the author, but... There's always a but, the big B-U-T, intended to follow the good with the bad. It's one simple word, three little letters, and yet they can make heaven into hell, twisting guts into knots, and turning sweet words sour. But it's simply too dark. But the main character's unlikable. But the story's just not for them. There are so many buts that interrupt hope, that introduce fear, that stop exhilaration before it can truly take off. Ultimately the replies are easy to bear because there are other editors, other opportunities, other chances to succeed.

But my chances are dwindling. A field of potential players has turned into a handful, with each new rejection putting me just a little closer to failure. Sometimes I want to scream, others I want to cry; ever knowing that my chances are limited and that my prospects are almost exhausted. I'm going up against the gatekeepers, and their doors are slowly closing. A piece of my heart, hell, a part of my soul is being denied, and I don't know exactly how to save either.

Even so, I do know how to start over. I know how to put words on the page, one after another, and sometimes even have them make sense. I know how to build back up the word count that I lost, a single sentence at a time, replacing the story that was rejected with something more. I've done it before and I don't doubt I'll have to do it again. Ultimately, it's because writers have a little bit of the phoenix in them. They're creatures of birth, death, and consequently, rebirth. We burn brightly before finally going dim, only to rise back up again, far more brilliant than before. Defeat isn't final, rejection isn't the end, refusal isn't ultimate -- they're only an opportunity to rekindle that burning fire, to stoke it higher than ever imagined and come back better.

I'm scared. I'm honestly terrified, but fear simply doesn't last. It gives way to a need to thrive, to grow, heading toward those goals that originally set us down the path. We all want something better, brighter, a bit of profound in the superficial. We don't want to hurt, we don't want to weep, we don't want to worry -- we all want success without the hurt along the way. But as we grow, we learn they're all part of the process, a little pain for a lot of gain.

Starting over will always be scary, but everything worthwhile begins with a little fear.