Do it Afraid

Grace under pressure buttonSo much has been happening! I hardly know where to begin.  The release of The Trouble to Check Her has been wonderful with awesome reviews and so many of you helping me share the news. 

I just got word that Mistaking Her Character has been longlisted for a RONE awardThe 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.

do it afraidSomehow 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.IMG_0306
  • 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.TSKC

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

The Courage to Say Yes

24 comments

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  1. Totally linking this in the conclusion of today’s post. Doing it afraid usually gets us the farthest.

    1. Thanks so much Raidon!

    • LINDA ROOT on May 4, 2016 at 10:55 am
    • Reply

    When nice, talented people have well-deserved positive results, it makes me smile. I’m smiling!

    1. Your comment makes me smile, too, Linda!

    • Anji on May 4, 2016 at 11:35 am
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    That sounds so much like me! I’m in a job where a large part of it involves talking to people I’ve never met before, on a daily basis. Like you and your public speaking, I’ve grown to love it but Oh My Goodness, my insides are like jelly a lot of the time.

    As I’m also a big sci-fi/ fantasy geek, I’m really looking forward to reading your venture into that genre. I’m sure it will turn out fine and I wish you nothing but good luck with it.

    1. I know that jelly feeling well Anji!

      I’m so exited you’re a SFF geek too! Doing a happy dance now!

  2. Go for it!!!! 😀

    Sci-Fi isn’t my cup o’ tea; the closest I get to sci fi/fantasy is Harry Potter, LOL! 😉 But if it’s what you love to do, do it!! 😀

    Warm wishes for courage in the face of fear,
    Susanne 🙂

    1. I love Harry Potter!

      Thanks so much Susanne!

    • tgruy on May 4, 2016 at 12:19 pm
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    My mother used to say that the only way to cross the ocean was to get into the sea so just jump! I’m all for doing things that one loves doing even if the people around does not get it.

    Good luck and, even though I’m not really Sci-Fi is not my forte, I’ll be willing to read about anything well written, and you write wonderfully.

    Go get it!!!

    1. Thanks so much for being willing to take a chance on something new with me!

  3. Great post, Maria.

    I’ve been afraid most of my life. I think I’ll now move into the “Do It Pissed Off” stage.

    Seriously, whatever emotion it takes to get us moving is the one we need to grab.

    1. You’re got a good point, Susan!

    • Theresa Jean Golematis on May 4, 2016 at 2:15 pm
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    Dear Maria,

    THANK YOU so very much for sharing this – “DO IT AFRAID” – I really relate and NEEDED to hear this!!!

    Big Hug,
    tJean aka mamatree

    1. Thanks so much Theresa! You made my day!

  4. Great post, and congrats on moving forward with your science fiction project!

    1. Thanks so much Abigail!

  5. Great post, as always the volume of work you accomplish is an inspiration 🙂

    1. I appreciate it Walker!

  6. Thank you for such a raw and honest post. I’m relating so closely right now, and God’s timing with Encouragement always amazes me. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but maybe I’m a slow learner! 🙂

    Blessings, friend, and thank you for sharing your heart.
    –A.

    1. Somehow, it’s always reassuring to know it isn’t just you, isn’t it?

    • Heather on May 5, 2016 at 5:23 pm
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    Such an inspriting blog post, Maria! I’m sorry to hear you have to deal with such fears on a regular basis, but is it terrible to say I’m relieved that I’m not alone? I’m forever reminding my kids that this is what true courage is made of: admitting you’re afraid, but doing what’s best, anyway. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it! Thanks for reminding us of how well facing your fears can pay off!

    1. It’s not terrible at all Heather, it’s kind of affirming. Thanks!

    • Rida on May 6, 2016 at 4:05 pm
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    An amazing post, Maria, both touching and inspirational. And we’ll definitely be with you (well, some of us) in your venturing into Science fiction (though agreeing with an earlier comment, Harry Potter has been more of my thing).
    But one thing that made me blink in astonishment – is your real name not Maria Grace? Mind-blowing!

    • Kate on May 8, 2016 at 7:24 pm
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    I’m quite excited to hear about material in the SFF genre coming from you! To me, it holds some parallels to historical fiction….another place, another time, with different rules than we currently know and practice. I’m really looking forward to reading this new story!

  1. […] already in that pit, and you don’t see a way out? Take my friend April’s advice, and Do It Afraid. Sometimes, that’s what it takes. In fact, the greatest minds of this world had no idea they […]

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