Monday, April 23, 2012

Things I Fear (They're Not Too Scary)

It is time to discuss fear.

Aren't you excited?

I've been thinking about the writing I'm doing: these daily essays and the prose poetry. This is the stuff that makes me happy, but I'm not as happy as I would like to be. To be happier, I need to put stuff out to a wider audience, but I haven't done it. Thinking about it on the way into my day job, I realized why: I'm afraid.

I'm not proud of that.

I have a friend who is a nature photographer. He takes great shots and you should go buy some of his stuff right now. When we were hiking out west, he described what he does to get himself out there. He shows his work at festivals, in coffee shops and libraries, and anywhere else he can. He submits to magazines and photo agencies. He sends letters, makes phone calls. He works hard and takes risks. As he described it, I realized (again) that I don't do these things. I publish these essays daily and post poetry on my other blog, but I don't put myself out there.

I explain this by saying that I don't know what to do.

That's true but it's also nonsense. There's this Writer's Market thing that I could look through. I can search small presses online. I can research what it takes to publish a chapbook (or even just find out what the hell a chapbook is -- Oh, it's this). And I could begin looking for ways to get writings like this out in the world.

But it's scary out there.

It's not that I'm that afraid of rejection. Last week I got an email rejection of a poem and last month I didn't win a memoir contest. So it goes. The poem and memoir are both good. They just weren't right for those publications and need work.

My fear is that I won't be up to the work somehow. Maybe my stuff isn't good enough or maybe I'm not diligent enough to do the work necessary to be seen. I don't know. I just know the feel of the emotion and it is the same way I feel when I'm afraid.

The only things to do are to remain afraid, get to work, or give up. The last option doesn't make any sense. Today I've written 2000 words about teaching standards, drafted three poems, and written this essay. Writing these things has been the best time I have spent today other than kissing my wife and hugging my children. I'm not about to give up writing and I don't like feeling afraid, so there's only one choice.

As I was writing the paragraph above, my wife called and I mentioned what I'm writing and how I want her help to get me going. She said yes. She's lovely like that. I'll talk with my photography friend about what he does to find new opportunities. And I'll ask any of you to suggest places where I might send some of these essays. They confuse me more than the poetry. I'm not sure what they are or where they belong. What do you think?

Today, after a week and a half of not running because of an injury, I ran a couple miles. I wrote drafts of three poems after a week and a half of not composing (poetry injury?). I got up and moved. The antidote to fear is simple: shake it off, help myself, ask for help, write, write, and write on.