Most people don’t admit to being afraid; this refers especially to men. That’s one of the reasons for the denial and stigmatising of mental illness. Showing vulnerable feelings is shameful in many people’s eyes. But everyone is fearful of something, and at certain times in life.
A friend once said: “Tell me what you are afraid of, and I will tell you who you are.” He was very good at knowing, being a psychic.
What are you afraid of?
Some people are afraid of dogs. Others are afraid of birds. My psychic friend said this latter fear represents a fear of the “other side”. This accords well with the arbitrary nature of many phobias, which are not linked to actual events in a person’s current or early life. Some of the members of my original family were extremely afraid of frogs. These harmless creatures were all around us on the farm, and they evoked extreme fear in the female members of the extended family, in spite of their never being known to hurt anyone. In literature, these creatures often represent sexuality. Carl Jung saw then as God’s first failed attempt to create a man.
For a long time I was afraid to show my writing to others. Like a lot of writers, who tend to be sensitive souls, I preferred to immerse myself in the written word, rather than “leading from the mouth”. One or two rejections or unkind words, were enough to stop me from trying to get published. Joining a writing group marked my first breakthrough moment. Members of this group—part of the Fellowship of Australian Writers—gave me the ability to give and receive feedback in a safe and supportive setting.
Fear of Getting Rejected
One day I asked how many of my group were writing in order to be published. I was surprised to learn that they all, without exception, wanted to be published.
They all agreed, of course, that the basic impetus for good writing is passion. That is, you write because you really want to, and love to, not because you want to get published. Otherwise, your writing will probably not be good enough to be published in any case.
And trying to be published has not always been easy for many of us. In order to get published you needed an agent, and in order to find an agent, you needed to be published in some form or other! It was a case of the ubiquitous vicious circle. That is why it’s an exciting time for writers today. A Strategic Book Publisher sums it up: “With ebooks and Kindle and m-books for mobile phones around the world, it’s a great time to be an author and a publisher. We hope to convey that enthusiasm to the world.”
Of course, quality needs to be maintained as well as publishing facility, and that’s where editors and reviewers come into the picture.
Early Genesis of Some Fears
Where does my extreme fear of rejection come from? I know I’m a good writer, so why have I not put myself out there in book published form? It is easier to avoid the discomfort of pushing through the fear, rather than to face up to it and expose yourself to rejection.
I think the answer to feelings of shame and fear of rejection, lies in past events, so long ago that many of us prefer to ignore them and to not go there.
Finding Surrogate Nurturers
I am reading a book now about mothers and daughters: the ubiquitous story of fraught mother/daughter relationships. We all need to feel that sense of being loved, and of being valued for who we are.
However, surely this security can come from surrogates, or even from oneself, if you have missed out on it a long way back.
In any case, somewhere therein lies my own story, and I owe it to myself, and to my writing, to find the strength to overcome this fear.
Read or listen to Guy Winch on early rejection and emotional problems.