Are you surprised? Let me tell you, early on the poll was leaning towards the fear of never being published. Heavily. And I thought, man I'll be surprised if that's what we all fear the most. It turns out meeting our own expectations outweighs that more material fear. Who wants to be published if the work sucks? Really? It might feel super wonderful to see your name in print, but not if you aren't proud of what's between the covers.
Craft. Craft is what we study, and covet and fight for. If you've written anything, and you know it's written well, tightly crafted, it finds a way into the world. You share it. You smile when you go back to it years later. Your style may evolve, your tastes may change, but good writing is good writing. It turns out what we fear most is never producing it.
|Hemingway at work|
|Litho of Ralph Waldo Emerson|
"Fear defeats more people than any one thing in the world"
"Do the thing we fear, and the death of fear is certain"
|Hemingway's favorite journal|
So, we may fear not being published. We may fear criticism. We may not be able to control those facets of writing. But we can keep writing--whether on a blog, in a journal, or on works in progress. And with time, I think we can overcome our greatest fear, because it is in and of ourselves. We can live up to our standards if we do the work.
Thank you again to all who participated in the poll and shared such thoughtful comments. I'll close with a most favorite poem of mine, a photocopy of which I have carried in my wallet since high school.
Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.When the great oak is straining in the wind,The boughs drink in new beauty and the trunkSends down a deeper root on the windward side.Only the soul that knows the mighty griefCan know the mighty rapture,Sorrows comeTo stretch out spaces in the heart for joy.--Charles Edwin Markham (1852-1940)