I just got word that Mistaking Her Character has been longlisted for a RONE award. The Darcy’s First Christmas received a BRAG medallion. And some of my books are now part of the BiblioBoard ebook collection for Texas Libraries! I’ll share more details on that in the coming weeks.
With all the excitement and new things happening, I’ve wanted to get out here and blog, but I’ve felt at a loss for words. Back in February, I started posting on a talk I did at a friend’s coffee house and it seems time to pick up where I left off with that.
Somehow it is very fitting that I’m in the middle of a writing class on ‘author voice’ in which one of the main themes is not to be afraid to let the inside voice—the one that you talk to yourself with—out on the page. Fear has always played a big role in my life and I’ve discovered that the only way to do anything, at least for me, is to do it afraid.
Doing it Afraid
Growing up, I was taught to be afraid of absolutely everything. A new danger, a new problem lurked behind every door and in every new experience, disaster was hovering only a hairsbreadth away. Nothing was ever going to be ok, it was all dread and doom no matter what it was. You might fail, you might get hurt, you might be embarrassed (or embarrass me), you might not be the best, you might not attend to other more important things…believe me the list goes on and on and on. Ad nauseum it goes on.
Even more challenging, when I’d try something I was afraid of, like the year I ran track, it was completely ignored. No support, no encouragement. It was as if what I was doing didn’t exist at all; a subtle punishment for trying something that I should be afraid to do.
On top of all of that, the church I attended taught that we should pray for peace when we experienced fear. If we had faith enough, we would have peace and that peace would be a sign that we were going in the right direction. No peace, then we were headed off into the weeds.
The trouble with this was that when fear is as automatic as breathing, it’s a pretty tenacious habit. And you’re afraid when you’re not afraid. How crazy is that? Crazy and paralyzing.
I had to come to the point where I accepted the fact I was going to be afraid and just got on with life. When being afraid only meant ‘standard operating procedures’ things changed, dramatically. Not as in I stopped being afraid—nope, that’s still firmly in place. What changed is that I started doing things. I found the strength to say yes.
- I changed majors in college totally afraid of what my parents would do.
- I went to grad school and studied what I wanted looking over my shoulder for the monster to jump out of the closet and get me.
- I took my first college teaching job and faced my first classroom scared almost speechless.
- I started writing again, horrified at the thought of showing anyone my stories.
- I took up martial arts with my kids terrified of every stinkin’ aspect of it.
- I posted my writing online, petrified in anticipation of criticism.
- I published my first book so anxious of ridicule I used a pen name. (Now I’m stuck with it, but that’s another story…never admitted that before, by the way.)
I’ve been afraid an awful lot.
The Fruit of All the Fears
But since I’ve gone on and done things while shaking in my running shoes, a lot of good things have happened:
- I earned a quadruple undergraduate major. Not enough room on the diploma to print it all! Kinda cool, huh?
- I got a PhD before I was 30 in an area that has made a difference in my life and my families every single day.
- I taught for 16 years and have done public speaking all over the country, and discovered I absolutely love doing it—even though I’m on edge every single time.
- I earned two black belts in two martial arts with my kids. We had a remarkable journey together that few moms share with their boys and now I have partners to help me block out action scenes to boot!
- And I’ve gotten to do what I truly love, writing. I published my tenth individual work with The Trouble to Check Her. That doesn’t include The Darcy Brothers project or the Castles Customs and Kings
If being afraid is the price I’ve had to pay for so many awesome opportunities and experiences, then it has been well worth it.
Once again, I find myself on the precipice of fear, though. Change is very scary and it’s on the horizon. I’m anxious about upsetting people, about losing readers, about being criticized, but that isn’t new, so I’m going to have to buckle down and just do it afraid.
Before anyone jumps to conclusions, no I am not quitting writing. And I’m not giving up Austenesque writing either. I have notes for another 4-5 novels and projects in that genre on the books right now, plus three Regency era non-fictions. So, I’m not going anywhere!
But I am going to expand my horizons a bit and take on another genre, one I’ve always loved, but is big and scary, SciFi/Fantasy. I’ll be posting the first novel here soon.
To do that though, I have to carve out more writing time, so something has to give. After a lot of thought, I think History a’la carte on the blog is going to have to shift from a weekly feature, to a monthly one, or maybe just an irregular one when I find really special Random Bits of Fascination to share with you. In its place, I hope to have a lot more of the stuff I love most: fiction, blog posts and fiction.
Yes, I’m scared, to put it mildly, but I’ll be afraid whether I do it or not, so I might as well do it, right?
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!
Check out the first installment in this series