“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Is there such a thing as post-publication depression? I mean we spend all this time working on a book losing our evenings, weekends, and holidays making sure it’s ready. Then the big day arrives, the launch happens! We’re giddy! We’re excited! The book is released! Then… silence. The book is out there. You see people buying it. You know it’s in the hands of readers. But you sit and wonder and wait and eventually fear starts creeping in.
Oddly, this is my third post on the subject of fear as it pertains to writing. (See: I’m Scared and Fear Is The Mind Killer for the others.) I say “oddly” because these are never the articles I set out to write, but somehow I still write them. Which shows how constant these emotions are in our lives. Over the last three years, with each successive launch I have taken the time to write about the tangle of emotions that swell around the launch of a book.
The greatest feeling in that knot is always the same; it’s fear. We’re afraid it’s not good enough. We’re afraid our books will be failures. We’re scared it’s full of mistakes. We worry that people will hate it. Those ideas can be debilitating. They gnaw at us, and if we let them they can devour us. But, here’s the kicker, I don’t think those feelings ever go away.
Worry comes with this job. Sure, in some magical land a writer writes a manuscript and everything is perfect, editing isn’t a bear, and reviewers laud them with praise, accolades, and candies. La de da. But that isn’t today, and it’s certainly not the world where we live. It can be tough out here. People can be mean. Some want to be mean. But, here we are. Three years ago, when I stared into that long tunnel and faced the launch of The Stars Were Right I was there. I was terrified. But I pressed on. A year later, when I set out to launch Old Broken Road, I still felt those pangs. Hell, here I am standing on the other side of Red Litten World‘s launch, and I still feel it. Those emotions are still there even three books and thousands of copies later.
“Perfect is the enemy of good.”
There is an ancient saying (Seriously, ancient, it’s attributed to Voltaire) that I like to quote, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Now, I am not saying you shouldn’t try to achieve perfection. Quality matters. That’s a given. What I am saying is that so often we get so stuck in the chase of perfection that we never stop. We run and run and run afraid of failure. Projects never see release because they haven’t achieved an unreachable ideal we set up in our heads. Fear fuels it, and it’s empowered by those lingering “what if” questions. Questions that bog us down, snare us, and stop our momentum.
The biggest lie in life is the idea that failure itself is permanent. I’ve seen it crush writers, artists, designers, architects, and creatives of all types. I’ve seen it destroy dreams. But… it’s a lie. Failure is a state of being, and like every other state of being, you’ll realize that it’s temporary. Once you realize its temporal nature fear begins to take a back seat. The panic becomes a white noise. The post-publication depression that hangs over our head and sabotages us begins to fade. As that happens, you become powerful.
“You’ll have more failures than successes.”
Last week, Kari-Lise was watching The Trojan War, the latest in ESPN’s documentary series 30 for 30. (It’s a brilliant documentary series and I encourage more than just sports fans to watch it. A lot of great stories.) During the program, Lawrence Turman, the producer of The Graduate and American History X, had a great quote. It was something that has stuck with both Kari-Lise and me. I’m paraphrasing here, but it was something along the lines of: “you’ll have more failures than successes.”
Think about that for a moment, more failure than successes. That’s intense and yeah, it’s scary. But the trick, the thing a lot of people don’t understand, is you can’t fail unless you try, and you certainly cannot succeed until you’re willing to fail.
So, I’m scared. I feel the fear. I always do. But, now three books in, I’m realizing: that fear never leaves. It lingers, it picks, it torments. Somedays I give in, but more and more I find myself pushing past it. My reaction to it has changed. I’ve changed. The way I react is shifting. Emotionally I realize that fear is part of the process. Sure, I can still feel it moving beneath the surface. I know it wants to reach up, and (excuse the Lovecraftian imagery) grip and strangle me in its tentacles. But I push on. What else would I do? Give up? *scoffing noise* Not a chance. I want to write. I want to tell stories. I don’t ever intend on stopping.
So yeah, fear is out there. We all deal with it. But we can’t let fear stop us. Keep at it.
Now, go make great things.
It is here! It has arrived! I am so excited to share with you Overlooked Details: An Artist’s Journey, a documentary about my wife, Kari-Lise Alexander. I couldn’t be prouder of Kari-Lise and I am glad Scott Wilson gave her the opportunity to share her story. I think any creative will find her an inspiration. Full credits below the video. I recommend watching this full screen. Enjoy!
This is a story about resilience – about what it really takes to be an artist.
This is the story of Kari-Lise Alexander, an acclaimed oil painter whose work has been shown at international galleries. Along with her husband, author K.M. Alexander, and friend, woodworker Steve Leroux, Kari-Lise recounts her past and present struggles and shares what she’s learned along her journey. It’s not just talent. It will never be perfect. And success is not a destination.
Learn more about Kari-Lise’s work at: kari-lise.com
Learn more about the Emergence Series, of which this film is a part, at: emergence-series.com
DIRECTION & EDITING:
Scott R. Wilson
Scott R. Wilson
“Rise (Snowfall Remix)” performed by Tony Anderson, Licensed through The Music Bed
“Aura” performed by Blue-Noise, Licensed through iStock
Bellevue Fine Art (bellevuefineart.com)
Wallflower Custom Framing (wallflowercustomframing.com)
University of Washington Communication Leadership
Film Copyright © 2015 Seven Griddle Media LLC / Scott R. Wilson.
Art Copyright © 2015 Kari-Lise Alexander.
All Rights Reserved.
UPDATE: It’s live. Watch it here!
The internet is a fickle and restless monster, sometimes everything seems to be going swimmingly and in the next moment you’re having dropped connections and nothing is working. As a result we’ve seen a little delay in the documentary short, Overlooked Details, that I mentioned last week. It’s being fix and it should be available soon. Sorry about the delay! I know a few people have been asking. I’ll post when it’s live. (It’s worth the wait.)
Been keeping this under wraps for a while, but the time has come! I’m happy to announce the upcoming release of Overlooked Details, An Artist’s Journey a documentary film by Scott Wilson focusing on my amazing and talented wife, Kari-Lise Alexander. The 15 minute documentary will be available to watch next Monday, February 2nd. I couldn’t be more excited.
Last November Kari-Lise was approached by Scott, a local filmmaker and creator of the Emergence Series. It was initially supposed to be pretty short, but over the course of the filming it eventually grew into a 15 minute focus on Kari-Lise’s journey, the creation of art, and the struggles associated within. I cannot wait to share it with everyone. Scott is an incredible filmmaker and really captured Kari-Lise’s story, her passion, and her philosophy. It’s beautiful, it’s encouraging, and I’ll be posting it when it launches.
Until it launches, enjoy the poster:
Around this time last year I wrote a post titled “I’m scared.” It was a candid take on the feelings I was dealing with while I was on the verge of releasing The Stars Were Right. You’d think with one book under my belt that it would be easier, that publishing Old Broken Road would be more relaxing. Yet, here I am staring at another final manuscript and those same fears are hurdling through my head yet again.
Saying and understanding are two separate things. I now understand: the fear never goes away. It’s like the tide of the ocean. Sometimes its waters are distant and easily ignored and sometimes it hammers us. I don’t care who you are or how successful you’ve been. It’s always there. It pokes at us. It causes self-doubt. I think a lot of writers struggle with this fear. It’s why they rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. It’s why they never submit or never publish. But, for any of us to be successful, we need to push past that fear.
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
So, how do we push past this fear? How do we let it pass over and through us? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer. This fear isn’t something that has three quick steps or a handy online tutorial. Yet, thousands of authors get past it. If they can do it so can you. My solution: I just do. I swallow that fear, hit publish, and I let the work free. Maybe that’s enough.
Big announcement tomorrow.