A good friend of mine wrote five novels before he got the courage to submit one to a publisher. (It was a great book, and it became a bestseller!) A young author I met on a panel once was shaking when she sat down. I asked if she was all right, and she said, “I’m afraid that they’ll know that I’m not really a writer.”
This fear of showing your work is common. It’s similar to one of our most fundamental fears–that of speaking in public. Oddly enough, surveys show that more people are afraid of speaking in public than of dying. But if you’re going to live your dream, if you’re going to become a bestseller, you need to show your work to the whole world. You’ll need to develop the guts to show your work to a critique group.
You’ll need to find the courage to send your story to an editor. You’ll need to find the inner resolve to read the reviews of critics, and to stand against the tides of public opinion. You’ll need to brave a book signing on a cold winter’s day when no one will show up. You’ll need to dig deep and find the strength to quit your day job and take the risk of making storytelling your profession. It won’t be comfortable. You might even regret it. But I suspect that you’ll regret it more bitterly if you never try.
So begin developing courage today. If you’re really insecure, show your story to someone who loves you. Maybe you could tell your colleagues at work or at school that you want to be a writer. Tell your parents what you’ve got a manuscript hidden in your desk drawer. If you feel safe enough, join a writing group. If you’re beyond that stage, send a manuscript out to an editor–a really scary one. But whatever you resolve to do, do it.
My story, Charley in the Wind, is up for free today!