A writers fear of success.

As some of my readers will know, I am an aspiring novelist.  In fact I am just about finished my first manuscript, there’s about one hour of editing left to go at this point.  This proximity to success though, has raised something very unexpected inside me.  Bone chilling terror.

I guess I should start at the beginning.  I started writing my novel, a trisexual poly amorous love story, about four years ago.  I actually started it by accident.  I had started writing a short story about a lonely transsexual woman, but somewhere in the first five hundred words that short story decided it was going to be a novel.

This was all well and good except, at that point in time I didn’t have the slightest clue as to how to write a novel.  Queue four years of very intensive study and learning by doing.  From the beginning writing a novel was for me a step into the unknown.  I knew I could tell a story, where the wheels started to come off the wagon, was when I was forced to ask myself if I had the technical language skills needed to write that same story.  Truth be told, I didn’t at the time and when I was honest with myself, I knew I didn’t.  While my grammar wasn’t terrible, my punctuation was truly awful.  I think if there was a court for cruel abuse of the common comma, I would probably have been put on a par with Herman Goering.  I was seriously that bad.

So with that knowledge I simply started by embarking on a journey which could best be described as a semi-conscious, stream of consciousness.  I just made every effort to get my story down on paper, good grammar and punctuation be damned.  Back then this was an act of desperation.  I needed to tell this story before I forgot it, and well feck it, I could fix everything else later on, when I knew how to.  I didn’t realise it at the time, but I now know that I was right to do so.

After about a year I had the first, incredibly rough draft of my manuscript.  It had the story I needed to tell in words, which were, mostly in the right order and full stops which were also mostly in the right places, but not a lot else.  I handed a print out of it to various friends, each with a different outlook on the world, just to find out if it was actually interesting.  It turned out it was.  So I started to study how to edit, how to punctuate and how to use word processing software to format properly.  All of this means that as of now my manuscript has been rewritten about a dozen times, some times with very few or subtle changes, sometimes with whole chapters being rewritten.

After two years of unlearning what I was taught in primary school, I can now use a comma, well sort of.  I wouldn’t say I get it right all the time, but at least I actually use them now, and some of them must be in the right places, even if only by accident.  The easiest thing to learn was formatting, but then I always find computer based skills easy to pick up.

All of this leads finally to today.  Today I am scared.  Not though because very, very soon I have to start looking for an agent or a publisher to take on my manuscript.  Like, probably all writers, I truly believe my manuscript, despite being a kind of chick lit, has some important things to say.  I believe it’s pretty well written, it certainly matches up well to the standards of the authors I prefer to read myself.  I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that it will sell and what’s more that it will sell extremely well.

No, I’m scared of it being successful.  I’m scared of what being a successful author might mean for my life, for my friendships, for the family I’ve created around myself.  I’m scared of what my very real and unfortunately severe health problems might mean for my career.  I’m scared that being successful will paint a bullseye on my back for  people who hate what I am, or who I am.  Most of all I’m scared that at thirty-three years of age I may have peaked.  That my first novel is as good as my writing will get, that I will never live up to the potential my partner, my little sisters and my friends  see in me.

I’m not used to being scared.  I’m generally pretty fearless, you kind of have to be to change gender, to be a dominatrix, and to do all the other crazy things I’ve done in my life.  So I don’t cope well with being afraid.  Especially when it’s a fear of something which I never even imagined I could be frightened of.

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