The latest issue of Scribble is out and my article 'Embracing Fear' is in there.
It's a lovely surprise when I open up a magazine and discover my name printed on the crisp white paper. There's something so unexpected and thrilling about seeing it there, even though I knew it was going to be published.
The first thing I did was to read the whole article. I always do. The words are never a surprise to me, after all it's not as though I've never seen them before. Yet the fact that it has been published is momentous, and such an event can not be allowed to pass by with a flick of the page. Though admittedly I read with baited breath, silently praying that no typos had slipped through the countless pre-submission reads and rereads.
I'm delighted that this article was selected for publication. The remit was to write an article on the craft of writing to share knowledge and experiences with other writers. Given I still class myself as an aspiring writer I wasn't sure that I was qualified to be offering advice to others. However, there is no denying that I have learnt a great deal in the last few years since taking those first tentative steps of sharing my secret scribbling with actual people. The real variety, as opposed to the fictional kind that I seem to spend a large amount of time holding conversations with in my head.*
The article, as you can probably guess from its title, aims to encourage other writers to overcome the fears that kept me from following my creative dreams for years. I find it astounding that the thing I most love to do is still the thing that terrifies me the most.
Writing is personal and subjective, and to attempt to get published is to put everything you are on to a page for everyone to see and judge. It's a daunting prospect.
The alternative however is to simply keep my writing to myself, or even to cease writing entirely. The latter is impossible, as any writer will tell you. The ideas don't stop just because you don't write them down. They just get more and more impatient and persistent at being ignored. They bounce around in your head at night preventing you from sleeping, or distract you from the task you are supposed to be concentrating on, until eventually you succumb and pick up the pen again.
As for keeping my writing to myself, well I've been there and done that. It's unfulfilling and lonely. If you've been following my Mslexia blog series, you'll know that I also write song lyrics. I have notebooks filled with lyrics that are confined to their pages in a flat kind of existence without the companionship of music to fill them with life.
Story's are no different. They too need to be read to make them whole. Their purpose is to share experiences and secrets, to bring joy or convey sadness. If no-one ever reads them they will be as unfulfilled as their writer. The one who is clinging to a dream that they lack the confidence to ever try to attain.
I might not have all the answers on how to achieve success, but the biggest piece of advice I can offer is to take a chance. Of course there are no guarantees. There's a chance you could fail. But there's also a chance that you might just succeed. Isn't that worth the risk?
*I'm assured by my fellow writers that this is a common affliction and simply should be viewed as evidence that I am indeed a writer, as opposed to certifiably insane. Though given that they suffer from the same affliction, their advice may be a teeny tiny bit biased.