My writing is born of fear, the fear of failure – always palpable, always present.
From 2005-2020, these have been my fears:
From May 2005 - Nov 2019:
- Will I be able to write fiction?
- Will I be able to flesh out the sketches waiting in my desk-drawers for 2 years?
- Will I be able to do justice to the lives of the women I’m writing about?
- Will I get a publisher for a collection of short stories?
- Will my book ever come out?
From Jan 2020:
- Will my book (Gariahat Junction) reach enough people if it’s not available in bookstores?
- Will it get reviews?
- Will it vanish from the face of the earth in a few months?
Most of the fears in the first set were productive. It pushed me into writing fiction – first of all. And then doing all that needed to be done. Write, submit my work to a group, re-submit, edit, revise, submit to journals, get rejected, sometimes get accepted, seek representation over years, get the MS accepted, & finally go through the process of being published (entailing another set of edits).
The fears in the second set are counter-productive. They have nothing to do with writing, but rather with the immense desire to find an audience – in the accomplishment of which one has little power, individually. As there are many variables involved, apart from the quality of the writing.
The fears prior to publication had long phases (some of which were longer than others); the fears post publication, are, however, only a few weeks old now. And I have no idea how long they will stay. But that I have them is undeniable.
No sooner has the first book been out, that I’m assailed by new fears:
- Will I be able to get back to my shelved novel… just pick up from where I left off almost 3 years back? Or will I have to painfully re-establish my relationship with an alternate world that I was trying to create?
- Will I ever find the time for serious, sustained writing while teaching full-time in a private institution?
- Do I have new things to say, or am I redundant?
Ultimately, I know, writing is a routine. And one needs to be disciplined in order to be able to write at all. Over the years, I’ve created my own rules & negotiated with the varying time & space at my disposal at different points in my life to figure out a working formula that suits me best - to write.
But the fears don’t leave me….