Not Fearing Failure

Bless me A Novel Place, for I have sinned. It has been at least 365 days since my last post. Maybe longer. I’m actually too embarrassed to find out for sure. I mean, it’s just ridiculous. I don’t know why Karen puts up with me.

Here I am a so-called writer who loves to write and talk about writing – I used to be an English teacher, for Beet’s sake, and I work occasionally (and somewhat questionably) as an editor – and yet, and YET, I cannot bring myself to write about writing.

Why not? I hear you ask.

Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

I have a dark, dirty secret when it comes to writing. It has taken me thousands of hours of therapy and a lot of staring blankly at grimy walls to realise I actually have a secret, but I do have one, I really do. I’m not just saying it to get you to keep reading (you think I’m going to confess to writing naughty books, don’t you? Actually, I did toy once with writing a book called Whip It based on stories told to me by my flatmate at university who worked as a dominatrix, but that’s another tale entirely…)

NO. My real secret is much less dirty but probably much more messed up.

I don’t write about writing much anymore because I’m afraid of success and I feel like a hypocrite writing enthusiastically about something I am afraid of. There, I said it.


See, I told you it was a messed up secret.

This photo is indicative of the state of my writing muse. Her name is Edna (you thought I’d have a more poetic sounding muse, didn’t you?) and she has a lot to say but she is currently trapped behind that grill on the window, her little fingers poking through the spaces every now and then as she shouts out ideas for stories and novels.

This one’s a winner, she says.

Develop this and you could be make it, really make it.

One more draft and you’re there.

That editor you met on Twitter said she liked your work.

That agent wants to represent you.

On and on and she goes all day and night.

It’s maddening.

I know that if I want to shut Edna up there is only one way and that is to achieve publication. Edna thinks I can do it (so do many other REAL people who don’t live behind window grills…) but here’s the thing, here’s the baby did a bad, bad thing. I have realised when it comes to writing that I am completely and utterly self-sabotaging and suffering from what my son refers to as CBF Syndrome (Can’t Be F*cked.)

It’s a really unsettling state of mind to be in. I don’t really know why I do it. It’s much worse than procrastination. I have to be serious here for a moment and tell you my therapist has told me what I am doing is akin to self-harm. I am punishing myself by inaction, thinking I don’t deserve success.

However, one little human trait that seems to counteract feelings of apathy, indifference, even a kind of ennui, is the very-welcome-when-it-comes-JUST-GETTING-SICK-OF-BEING-A-LOSER-attitude.

And knowing that time waits for no one.

My strategy for rising above and hopefully curing my bad dose of CBF Syndrome is transcendence. Case studies indicate that taken in regular doses transcendence helps one rise above any negative situation. If I get aboard the Transcendence Train I might just succeed in pulling myself out of the I’m-frightened-of-success-mire.

I hope so.

After all, the possibility of success should be embraced, not feared.



About Selma

Still dreaming, still hoping, still trying to pronounce incontrovertible. Writes stories the way Evel Knievel jumps canyons - without a net.
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6 Responses to Not Fearing Failure

  1. lissa says:

    that sounds normal to me, I think fear of success leads to fears of failure. because once you succeed, you would start to worry about failing, isn’t that true? it’s a vivacious cycle that keeps turning but doesn’t mean it won’t stop. I hope you succeed in overcoming your fear and hey, who knows, perhaps you’ll enjoy it more than most people.


  2. Karen says:

    Of course I forgive you, dear! Welcome back. đŸ™‚

    I can relate to this fear so much! I realized I was afraid that if I got popular, it would allow more people to say horrible things about my writing (case in point, the popularity of the twilight series yet the treatment the author gets is…owie!) I can’t imagine wanting to put oneself in that position, and yet I’ve gone and started the process in the hopes that I will be able to make money doing what I love.

    Edna’s right… but I understand the fear.


    • Selma says:

      It’s horrible what some writers have to go through when they attain a certain level of success. But in some ways it comes with the territory, I guess. Let’s hope that when you are well-known and making lots of money that people leave you alone. It is daunting to think – ‘Wow. I’m really putting myself out there…’ but if anyone can do it, you can!!!


  3. Tam says:

    Yep you sound just like Karen. But with much pushing and prodding ( and a lot of whining) she is about to send off the first book to the great unknown.
    I’m so very proud of her. đŸ™‚


  4. Selma says:

    I think you have played a huge part in this, Tam. Hats off to you. We need writers like Karen in this world. THank you!!!


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