“One of the hallmarks of fear is tendency to surround ourselves with more projects, more responsibilities, more stuff.”
Maybe is a powerful word, isn’t it?
After all, maybe is the creator of possibilities. It brings the imagination to life and stirs the world of options. But maybe has a darker side as well…
I’ve mentioned many times that my first novel was absolutely dreadful. Yet, each time I say it I wonder what I’m supposed to do about it and what sort of damage comes from constantly berating the work gone by. What happens is that your lose confidence in yourself and the Maybe Flower springs up in the garden of your mind.
I am writing five novels at once, which is to say I’m not writing anything at the moment.
I ended up with five novels because somewhere along the way I became afraid of my next book. I ask questions of the work, questions that begin with the word maybe:
“Maybe I should write a mystery.”
“Maybe I should write an existential novel.”
“Maybe I should just focus on my essays.”
“Maybe I should get back to writing spec-fic.”
And on it goes… The Maybe Flower is prodigious and aggressive. Its roots run deep and it is very difficult to remove, but not impossible.
One of the hallmarks of fear is tendency to surround ourselves with more projects, more responsibilities, more stuff. Taken together, this bricolage forms a buffer to the real work that needs doing. This is a fertile compost for the Maybe Flower and perhaps here is where you begin. Rather than try to uproot the Maybe Flowers you should change the conditions so that it is impossible for the Maybe Flower to flourish.
I think the best way to do this is to see your project through to the end.
Michael Jasper is working through a marathon session to finish editing his latest book. It’s exciting stuff. I know what that feels like: the end is in sight, everything is flowing, you can hardly sleep because you can’t wait to get cracking again. Good times.
In his latest post, Michael writes that he recently came across a review of his first novel. He noted that it wasn’t quite as snarky as the review he received from Kirkus. I loved this quote:
That’s why it’s a first novel, folks. Got to get those chops up to speed. Two negative reviews still don’t compare to the dozen or so good reviews the book got, and anyway, I still wouldn’t change anything about the book.
What a fantastic attitude! Even better is the fact that he is moving forward with the current book. He is working hard (and having fun) by finishing the project he has in front of him.
I doubt that Michael is without his own little garden of Maybe Flowers. It seems impossible to avoid, but Michael is focused and that’s a lesson many of us (especially me) should learn.