Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Greatest Fears


Halloween, celebrated on October 31, is traditionally about ghosts, goblins (whatever they are) and other scary stuff. Facing your fears, as it were.

Like most introverts, I have many fears, none of which are in any way even remotely related to the supernatural or paranormal. In truth, one of my greatest fears (other than invisible lurking spiders) is public speaking. Oh, I can carry on a reasonable conversation standing around in a large group of people, but put those people in a chair, me in front of them with a mic and I freeze. I completely forget the English language and the sea of smiling humans becomes a throng of drooling, snarling werewolves waiting to devour me.

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to sit down with a published author with the intention of putting together a 3 line pitch so I could be ready any time someone asked me about my book.

Immediately, this author picked up on the fact that the whole idea of cold pitching to some hapless editor or agent sent me into full blown DT’s. She very gently talked me down from the ledge and somehow, she magically unraveled my stuttering, stammering synopsis and helped me create a 3 sentence pitch. It worked!

When someone gifted me with an unexpected pitch appointment with an agent, I sat down, smiled, and in a semi-controlled voice, gave my pitch. I didn’t run away, I didn’t hurl—I even remembered her name—and mine!

The pitch worked so well, the agent requested a full manuscript.

Now, let’s talk about REAL FEAR.

REAL FEAR is sitting down at your computer, booting up your manuscript file and discovering there is absolutely NOTHING in your brain worth writing about.

That’s where I’m at today. I’ve done all the right things. Lit the candle, surrounded myself with green, have a comfy chair, there’s a bottle of booze within easy reach and I still can’t think of one damned thing to write that is remotely of interest to myself, let alone someone else.

Desperate, I fall back on the old if you can’t write something brilliant, write crap. You can always delete the crap, but there’s not much you can do if the page is blank.

So, dear readers, there you have it, my ultimate fear; facing down the blank stare of the word processor.

Here's a tidbit of my WIP for your reading pleasure:

He walked up behind her as she stood alone on the edge of the crowd. “You look lovely tonight, Miss Habersham. Quite an improvement over this morning.”

Charlotte jumped. “Mr. Stafford!” she gasped. “Did your mother never teach you it was impolite to sneak up upon a person?” She held her hand to her breast for a moment, her face scarlet from her décolleté to the tips of her dainty ears.

James smirked. “I must admit my education did not include how to behave in the presence of feminine brewmasters.”

“How--?” Charlotte’s eyes widened for the briefest of moments, then they narrowed to angry slits. “What on earth are you talking about, Sir?”

“Come now, Miss Habersham…or should I call you Charlie? Do you think me lame of mind as well as of limb? Surely you knew I’d conduct a discreet investigation if I’m to keep your secret. I wouldn’t want to engage in any illegal activities, would I?”

James knew it was cruel to toy with Miss Habersham in such a fashion, but he couldn’t seem to help himself. “It is quite astonishing what some will reveal when tempted with the promise of a coin or two.”

Charlotte’s mouth fell open. “I don’t know what you’ve heard, Mr. Stafford, but my name is not Charlie and I am no brewmaster. My father’s Christian name was Charles. He was the brewmaster, not I.”

“Tsk, tsk, my dear. Mendacity does not become you. That pulse at the base of your throat gives you away in an instant,”



What is your ultimate fear? Is it something tangible like spiders? Or is it something more indefinable? Have you overcome your fears or have you conquered them?

23 comments:

Christine said...

My fears are all over the place. I am terrified of the dark, fires (the raging destructive kind, not the mellow romantic kind), and walking into the great unknown abyss of death.

My daily fears are failing at this craft, being called out as a fraud once and for all, and being rejected.

I sleep with the light on, check for sparks, and try to live well so I live long.

I continue to learn more about my craft, continue to stare down my own computer and WIP, and continue to pitch/query/ and submit despite my doubts.

I have a quote I love: courage is not the absence of fear. courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Congrats on the successful pitch session. Once you cross that hurdle, it opens so many doors!

Marilyn Baron said...

Cinthia,

Well you don't have to be afraid of putting words on the page. Your post is very well written and entertaining and I really enjoyed reading your WIP. What an interesting profession for a heroine. Lady Brewmaster.

My biggest fear is a particular kind of bug and I can't even say it or write it on the page. I don't think I will ever get over it. Suffice it to say I was born in Miami and it should probably be Florida's national bird (They fly). Yecch.

Marilyn

Cinthia Hamer said...

Christine, I love that quote. I use a variation of it on my donors when they say how afraid they are of needles or of the sight of blood. I tell them that courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.

Marilyn, thank you for the compliment! There are times when I, like Christine, fear that I will be found to be a fraud. LOL! And I know exactly what bug you refer to. They give me the shivers.

Barbara Monajem said...

I don't mind bugs, but I'm scared of mean people. Or that for no good reason and out of the blue, people will suddenly be mean. Or that I will say something the wrong way and people with think I'm being mean.

Loved your excerpt! The problem with excerpts, though, is that they end. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?? Pretty please, post some more!

Cinthia Hamer said...

Barbara, you have me laughing. My fondest wish is that this agent will love the book so much she'll sell it instantly! Keep toes crossed. :)

I understand about mean people and the angst of being afraid your words will be taken the wrong way. I, too, suffer from that particular affliction.

I've discovered, unhappily, that mean people need to be enlightened as to their behavior. Sometimes, it works and they cease being mean. Others,though, seem to delight in meanness. We can only try to avoid them whenever possible.

CiCi Barnes said...

Doesn't sound like you need to panic about your writing, dear girl. Your snippet was fine and a requested full? Wonderful!

My fear? Driving alone in unfamiliar territory. I'm so scared of getting lost, or car trouble. Panic hits a new level for me when this happens.

As for writing fears, if you haven't already heard, it's the dreaded synopsis. I don't know if I'll ever get that down correctly. It could be my doom in the writing world.

CiCi

Cinthia Hamer said...

As one who must constantly drive in unfamiliar areas, I can sympathize. Purchasing my GPS unit and getting a cell phone were the smartest things I've ever done.

As for the dreaded synopsis, my CP and I came up with a method that seems to work for us. We break the story down by chapter, then by scenes. We then write a brief description of each scene, making sure we incorporate GMC and character arcs. It's not so difficult that you'd rather get a root canal, but it is a bit time consuming. Give it a try and tell us how it works. :)

And thank you for the vote of confidence in my writing abilities. We can never get enough positive strokes, can we? :)

Cinthia Hamer said...

I hate to leave you all, but work is calling. Must go suck blood. I'll be home this evening and I'll check back and reply to further posts.

Hope you all have a lovely day!

Carol Burnside said...

Delightful excerpt, Cinthia. Love that word mendacity. I never hear or read it without thinking of Tenn. Wms play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Big Daddy's line: What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice the powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?
[G]

Tami Brothers said...

Very good, Cindi!!! This is great.

I love the hook and you definitely left us wanting more.

My fear is public speaking. I absolutely want to throw up every time I do it. BUT I put myself in positions where I have to do it and over the past few years, it has really helped me. I had to speak just yesterday for my training program in front of 40+ people (twice) and the first time was really bad, but the second one went much better.

Keep up the great work and we will cross our fingers for you!!!

Tami

Debbie Kaufman said...

I have to admit that returning from conference with a request for a partial didn't bother me until I booted up my computer either! Then it was pure panic. But, I sucked it up. Wrote the cover letter, revised and edited the first 3 chapters and am polishing the synopsis to send off tomorrow. Right now I think it's the Send button that is my major fear, LOL.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Carol, love the quote. Funny, when I read it, I swear I heard the voice of Dr. Arliss Loveless from The Wild Wild West movie. LOL!

Tami, I've been there when you get up and speak at meetings. I'd never have known how uncomfortable it is for you. You do great!

Debbie, toes crossed for your partial. I hope they love it. :)

Thank you everyone for all the comments. Glad you enjoyed the blog and the excerpt. Now, if I can just get the danged thing done and out the door!

Linsey Lanier said...

You nailed my biggest fear, Cinthia. Pitching! I thought I had it conquered at M&M because I didn't feel my usual nerves. That was, until the workshop just before my appointment. Then I started quaking inside like a San Francisco earthquake. Well, maybe not that much. I got through it though.

After reading Marilyn's comment, flying bugs would be a close second for me. At least I don't scream at editors when I pitch, like I do when I see something creepy and crawly. :)

Loved the excerpt. Good luck with it.

Linsey

Ana Aragón said...

Cinthia,

Loved the excerpt. As you know, I'm a fan of historicals and I want to know what happens!

What am I scared of? Mice. When I was maybe 9 years old, we lived on the edge of town and there were always field mice trying to get into the house. I remember one morning I dragged myself out of bed and into the kitchen to get breakfast. I got a bowl from the cabinet and then opened the utensil drawer. I pulled out a spoon and in my semi-conscious state, saw two eyes staring at me. It didn't register until I shut the drawer.

All I can remember is finding myself standing on the kitchen table screaming at the top of my lungs. I think I woke up everyone within a 5 mile radius.

To this day, I always open utensil drawers carefully.

Ana

Sandy Elzie said...

Sorry I'm chiming in late...really late, but thought I'd add my "fear". I have a healthy respect and keep my distance from snakes. ALL snakes. My motto: the only good snake is a dead snake.

Loved the snippet and can't wait for it to be published so I can read the entire story. Sounds fantastically intriguing. (g)

Sandy

Cyrano said...

Gosh,
I'm chiming in really, really late too. Soooo sorry Cinthia. Hate when daily life cuts into my favorite things, like the PFHT.
Anyhoo, hope you get mine and Sandy's comments today.
I'm first and foremost, terrified of rejection. After a long talk with my therapist I realized I've been really lucky in life. I've had everything handed to me, everything has come easy (I'm not bragging...I'm simply admitting this to myself and...to the entire blog world) Even writing to me, for the most part, comes easy. Publication, on the other hand, has not come at all. Rejection is all I've received and the fact that becoming published seems not only horribly difficult, but also completely unatainable, scares the living shit out of me.
This is the first thing in my life I've wanted with all my heart, but haven't gotten. It depresses me.
But my thereapist tells me to "never give up." Good advice.
Oh, and I'm also afraid of sharp cooking knives. Much to my husnabds chagrin, I never allow the cookig knives to be sharpened. Try cutting a pineaple with a dull blade.
Great post!
Again, sorry I'm late with the comment.
Have a great weekend!
Tamara

Cyrano said...

Darn, I forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed your excerpt. Like everyone else said, I'd have loved to read more.
Well written!
Tamara

Anna Steffl said...

What a fun excerpt! Thanks for sharing.

I'm terrified of fish. Even minnows.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Hello, again...been trying to get my hands to be malleable enough to type properly. It's been a challenge this morning.

I'm absolutely fascinated by the various fears we've all admitted to having. You go through life, interacting with others never knowing the secret fears that lurk behind the outward appearance.

Tamara, you're a wonderful writer and I'm confident it won't be long until the right editor/agent recognizes this and you'll achieve your dreams. Remember, the difference between the published and the unpublished is that the published have just been more tenacious...they never give up.

Mary Marvella said...

Hey, girlfriend. I need to be reminded to check my friend's blogs, since I have a lot of friends who blog. Excellent blog, though I'm not surprised.

I guess I fear running out of places to submit, so I must make myself submit again. What if everyone says "no thanks"?

Snakes, I dislike the thought, and spiders scare me spitless if they get on me. YUK! Shudder!

Maxine Davis said...

Cynthia,

I enjoyed the WIP. Can't wait to read it all.

Sounds like you've mastered the pitch. Big time congratulations!! A full - that's wonderful.

Fears? The synopsis, the pitch, the getting it done on time. And birds.

Darcy Crowder said...

Cynthia,

Great excerpt. :) And great advice on putting together a synopsis. As for my greatest fear...I'd have to say that blank page ranks right up there.

AliceAnderson said...

Well, I don't particularly care for spiders. My biggest fear is a housefire when I'm away from home and can't save my pets. So I try to tell neighbors when we'll be gone long, and I always make sure they know how many we have so they can tell the firemen. :)