Sometimes you think when an opportunity presents itself, it's the universe telling you that you need to make a move, take a chance. I had that sort of moment two weeks ago when I found an ad for a press looking for chapbook manuscripts. Since I had just come off of a month of putting together a poetry manuscript, I thought I would make the most of it—pick out the best of the original to create a chapbook. And it seemed like a good, cohesive collection. I felt proud to have made it.
But I flaked. Over the past week I kept going, “oh, I'll submit it later tonight.” I convinced myself I had one more day, one more day, wait, just one more day—then I ran out of days. On the last day before the deadline, I decided to reread the submission call. It wanted stuff that was experimental, surreal. And I quickly decided that my poetry didn't fit within those parameters, and convinced myself it wouldn't be the right fit.
I should have submitted anyway.
It wasn't the fear of rejection. I think I need a recent rejection under my belt to get me back in the swing of things. It was the fear that I may actually succeed. I thought about all that may entail, and I was worried about a lot of things. I have anxiety about sharing my work, which has really only developed over the past six months. I will let absolute strangers pour over my every written word, but there are maybe ten people on this earth that I don't want near my work—I don't want them to even know what I write. And it's the fear that this tiny group of people could get their hands on my work, could confront me about it, could potentially ridicule me that's done more that keep me from submitting my work. It's inhibited my ability to promote the stuff that's already out there for fear they may come across it. It's prevented me from completing as many posts on this blog as I would like. In my mind, the threat is circling and I feel like if I make the slightest move, everything could crumble. It's stupid, but it's hard to argue with anxiety because it's irrational. And you know it's irrational. But you buy into it just the same.
I used to freely be able to talk to people face-to-face about writing, even going as far as talking about projects I have in mind. I used to be able to immerse myself in new submissions. I've been putting together a list of publications for my own use, cobbled together from some of my monthly writer newsletters, and I'm starting to see some publications I've already submitted to. Then my mind wanders back to five, six years ago. That's when I wasn't afraid to submit my work to place far and wide. I wasn't afraid of the rejection. I also had the mindset that everything I sent out had a real potential of making it.
Obstacles to publishing don't phase me. It's just the irrational fear that's left. Even if no one wanted it, I could get work out there and take no pay. But I'm still convinced that the best of my work hasn't touched the light of day and still has earning potential. I can't give it all away just to prove something to my own anxiety. My anxiety doesn't really care. If I get over this obstacle my anxiety will just find something else to latch on to—it always does.
Each morning I get to start over. I get to face whatever hangups I seem to have, and I get to try and work towards a better situation where I don't have to feel as anxious about every little decision I make (or fail to make). If this post is published, it must mean that I've been able to conquer the first of many battles to get back to the full-fledged writing career I'm meant to have.