Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Irrational Fears #IWSG


Welcome, Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Do you have fears? Would someone else say your fears are irrational? Sometimes we can recognize that our own fears don't make sense. Like, when I was young and had Shaun Cassidy's album on display (showing my age) I feared he was watching me. Totally irrational.

But what if we have real fears--situations that truly scare us--but most people think they're irrational? How do we reconcile reality vs. perception?

For instance, I have a real fear of writing conferences. Is it the large group of people? After all, I have no problem going to a concert in the park or a football game. But lots of writers in a ginormous setting? Scary as heck for me.

Maybe it's the "club" vibe. Like, everyone is in the exclusive club and I'm on the outside trying to gain membership. Silly, I know, because SCBWI is an open and warm environment where everyone is welcomed and appreciated.

Last weekend was the annual SCBWI summer conference. Like last year, I didn't register for the event. I live within driving distance, so I buzzed down for my agency cocktail party and also had dinner with my lovely friend, Leslie Rose. Leslie introduced me to other super sweet writers, and I realized they weren't clubbish at all.

So...reality vs. perception? I need to get it through my thick head that this crowd of people isn't scary. This isn't a shi shi club I need to worm my way into. I'm a part of it already...everyone is. I can be a bit thickheaded, even slow when it comes to overcoming irrational fears. But I'm working on it. I promise. Even if Shaun Cassidy's watching me.

Here are a few quotes that help me when I'm feeling fearful:

"Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them." -- Brendan Francis

"There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them." -- Andre Gide

"To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another." -- Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved

Have you attended a writer's conference? Are you comfortable with them? Inspired? Do you have other fears that may seem irrational?


(Me and my super sweet agent, Karen Grencik)

(Those super sweet writers: Leslie Rose, Monica Bustamonte Wagner, Evelyn Ehrlich, and Anna Shinoda)

42 comments:

  1. I fully understand your fear of writing conferences. I have a similar fear of meeting with other writers. I had gone to a small conference a few years back and it did not go well and I ended looking stupid and looking like an amateur. Hopefully I will get to wrong that right. At least you had a great experience. You got to prove that not all writers are scary. Good for you!

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    1. Murees, they tell us that everyone feels the same way we do, but when you're there, and everyone else seems to know everyone, it doesn't feel that way!

      By the way, no worries about feeling like an amateur. That happens to me all the time!

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  2. I say to people: Do that which you fear the most.

    Me, I quit my day job in March to start my own company. Talk about fear! Then my wife and I decided to have another baby (we were waiting for the one-year anniversary of our late son's passing, which was May). But it turns out independent healthcare does not cover pregnancy.

    You need either a group policy or medicare/caid whichever it is for low-income, neither of which I qualify because I am a small business just starting out.

    So we got pregnant anyway, caution to the wind, in her third month now and I already cut a check to the doc, the same midwife who delivered our last child, and by God I'll pay it outright because that's what any self-respecting anarchist would do.

    I still fear the conferences, though, but am forcing myself to go to one in New Orleans for my business, Oil and Gas. Maybe I'll get a picture of Shaun and stick it above my computer and challenge myself to hit the next writer's conf that lands near Dallas.

    Oh, and my wife has an unhealthy fear of my Kindle, the old one not the Fire. There is a picture of Emily D. See link here: Emily Pic. Apparently she's not the only one!

    - Eric

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    1. Eric, OMG, the loss of a child...I can't even imagine. What a blessing, though, to be pregnant with another child. I wish both of you nothing but the best. That picture of Emily D. is a bit scary. That might frighten me away from my Kindle!

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  3. I'm in the same boat - although there aren't any conferences anywhere near me. My fears usually stem from being 'found out' that I'm not good enough, that I don't really belong. Like you said, we have to push past them, but it's not easy! :)

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    1. Jemi, I think that's the real root of my fears. After all, everyone else who's there must be better than me. It's such a weird dynamic, and I hope I get over it.

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  4. We're all buddies online - why shouldn't we be buddies at a convention? Not that I've been to one either...

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    1. Alex, you're so right about that. I think if I register for this in the future, I'll let it be known that I'll be there and maybe hook up with fellow bloggers. As a matter of fact, Monica BW is someone I've followed via blogging, and Evelyn and I followed each other on Twitter. Once we knew that, things were good. It's just the whole "breaking the ice" thing.

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  5. Oh, Julie, I feel your fear. Perhaps, now that you've met a few of these writers and see how non-clubbish they are, you will be able to go next year. I so get the fear of clicks and feeling like an outsider, though.

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    1. Karen, it's such a real fear, and yet I know in my heart that these people are super kind and welcoming. It's not like high school, where you have to worry about being left out.

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  6. Looks like you had fun. I'm jealous. :) I don't like big groups either. I do better in smaller ones.

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    1. Smaller is definitely better. I feel way less intimidated. But really, everyone was super nice, and I just need to get over it!

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  7. Hi Julie, I am with you: so worried to feel like I won't fit in at such a large conference... But then I had the privilege of meeting so many truly friendly people like you. How refreshing! Open and warm describes SCBWI with accuracy. Let's see if I can cross SCBWI Conference fear off my list by next year. :)

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    1. Dow, it was so nice to bump in to you on Saturday! Your art is wonderful.

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  8. The first time going to a conference is a little scary b/c any newbie has to put themselves out there. I totally remember feeling that way. The first time, I knew one person. Awkward! The secret to conferences is volunteering. You immediately meet other writers and then have people to join for meals. Then after a couple times, you know people and then look forward to it! My sister had a huge crush on Shaun Cassidy. :)

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    1. Oooh, volunteering...I can see how that would help with the nerves. You do that for your local group?

      Shaun Cassidy was such a hottie in those days. I could sing The Do Run Run in my sleep (I don't even know if that's the right title anymore!)

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  9. I haven't made it to a conference yet, but I can imagine they'd be pretty daunting, at least at first. Here's hoping I get the opportunity to go to one in the near future.

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    1. Ken, daunting is a great word to describe it. Although, most of the writers who go are in the same boat as the rest of us, so I shouldn't be so freaked out!

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  10. Conferences scare me to death, but I force myself to go. EVERY SINGLE TIME I have come away with another layer of knowledge, new friends, and renewed enthusiasm. Take the plunge.

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    1. Leslie, I'm warming up to the idea. Maybe, just maybe, next summer will be the time. You can be my crutch friend!

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  11. I'm okay going to our state SCBWI conferences, though I haven't been going lately because we're trying to cut expenses due to my layoff next year. I'm not a really big crowd person, so the national SCBWI conferences would feel overwhelming. I don't really have a desire to go. I'd love to go to something like BEA and ALA but worry that would be too big too. Not that I have any plans to go to one.

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    1. Natalie, I'm sorry to hear you have a looming layoff. That's got to be overwhelming. Small always works better for me, for sure.

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  12. Fear of large groups of strangers who are looking at you? What's to fear? LOL

    Or in other words, AGREED!

    Put on your cloak of invulnerability and go out there with confidence.

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    1. Cloak of invulnerability. I love it! I'll have to remember that next time I step out of my comfort zone.

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  13. I'm pretty much always anxious about large groups of people, even if they're as nice as can be. Glad you enjoyed your conference!

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  14. I've never been been to a writer's conference, so I have no experience to draw on. I'm sure I'd find it intimidating though.

    Love the Shaun Cassidy anecdote.

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    1. Trisha, there's a lot of inspiration and information at conferences, that's for sure. But yes, I find them intimidating :/

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  15. I've never been to a writer's conference, but I'd like to go to one. I'd feel nervous around a bunch of people I don't know too; I've never been very good in social settings. The only time I feel confident around people I don't know is when I'm teaching, but that's different because I'm teaching the students, not socializing with them.

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    1. Ok, wanna know something funny? I often wonder how in the heck teachers stand in front of people and talk every single day. But then I realize it's probably because they do it every day! I suppose the more often we do something the more natural it becomes.

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  16. I'm so happy I met you, Julie. I understand how you feel! I feel the same way, but afterward, I'm always happy I went. Let's keep in touch. :)

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    1. Stacey, it was so nice to meet you too! I wish I had a picture with you in it, too. Leslie will likely drag my by the ear to a conference one of these days. At least now I know more than two people :)

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  17. Someday, I need to attend one!! Right now, finances don't permit though.

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    1. Ugh, Traci, it's so expensive! And I don't even have to travel! So I totally hear ya on that one.

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  18. I've been to a few. Not huge, but not necessarily tiny either. Writers tend to be more open and personable than we often think them. Pay-it-forward is often the way of things, which suggests generosity of spirit and compassion for those in the earlier stages of their journey. I've been tremendously encouraged, both as a participant, and one-to-one, with authors at varying career stages.

    BTW, Donny Osmond stared at me along with Shaun. Uh, I still have no complaints about that! ;)

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    1. Donny Osmond! My sister had a huge crush on him. And I still love singing Puppy Love.

      Yes, pay it forward is definitely the name of the game. And writers really are so sweet. It's my own weird fear, for sure.

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  19. I'm so sad that I missed you guys and the conference!! Maybe next year? Don't worry, we'll draw you out eventually. Mwahahaha!!!

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    1. Lisa, I know, I know. It's getting less and less scary. Hope you had a fun trip!

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  20. I have never been to a writer's conference but I sure would love to even tho I know I'd be nervous as hell. I think a lot of times when we face our fears we find they're not quite as bad as we thought - except for spiders, and especially the fast ones!

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    1. Spiders!!! My sons have been obsessed with the Sydney Funnel Web Spider. I won't even look at the photos on line. Gross.

      Yes, the monsters under the bed are usually much less scary than we think.

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  21. you look so lovely in that pic with your agent, Julz!

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  22. I have a fear of crowds, too, Julie. I'm too quiet and end up being a wall flower. But a lot of writers are introverted. We're also really nice people, LOL! I'm okay once I belly up to the bar and loosen up a bit. Glad you had fun!

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