Acknowledging My Fears of Submission

As I was reading over my post from Monday “How Do You Prioritize Your Writing?” I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe I wasn’t pushing myself far enough, fast enough. That perhaps I was tackling other stories instead of seeing the more or less completed ones through the publishing gauntlet.

After all, my historical romance novel has been in pretty good shape now for months. I should be querying. But I’m holding off, working on other stories and devising new ones. Why? I tell myself it’s because I want to see how I do in the contest I’ve entered first, and then armed with that feedback, I can polish my MS one last time before subbing. But is that the real reason? No. As strategic and prudent as it may seem to wait, I’m just using that as an excuse not to take the next step with this project. The big one. The soul-crushing one.

I’m avoiding the inevitable rejections that will come my way once I send my MS off into agentland. I’m afraid of my dreams of writing a book becoming real. Because then the book becomes a responsibility. No longer can I tuck it in a drawer or push it to the back of the closet and pretend it doesn’t exist. I must own this process – the good and the bad – if I want to succeed. And unfortunately, there are no safety nets.

So as I fretted that I was responsible for holding my work back, I came across a post this week that echoed my concerns. Shonna Slayton’s post at Routines For Writers called “Don’t Reject Yourself” was basically a brief but powerful pep-talk on eliminating procrastination and getting your work out there. Digging a little deeper, I found the post “Things Procrastinators Fear” with links to in-depth discussions on fear of rejection, fear of success, fear of failure, and fear of not being good enough and ways to combat them (all of which are worth a look if you are struggling with any of these issues). Now, I don’t necessarily think I’m procrastinating so long as I am still working on other writing projects, but I must acknowledge that all the different projects I have on my plate do divide my attention and keep me from moving forward. How convenient.

I realize I’m not alone in my fears. That’s why we blog, swap stories, spread encouragement, and foster community among our ranks. But it’s hard to push past the inertia and get your stuff out there. That’s part of the reason why I started this blog. To get my feet wet in a public forum. It’s also why I joined a new writing group, so that I would be working alongside others on the road to publication. Other writers to be accountable to; other writers to help me set realistic goals; other writers to support me on my journey. And it does help.

I may still hold off querying my MS until I have the results of the contest, but I won’t let anything else slow down the process. And in the meantime, I have other pieces I need to submit. It’s time to get out there. My fingers are crossed.

Erica Marshall of

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13 thoughts on “Acknowledging My Fears of Submission

  1. Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) says:

    Sppoky. I was having this conversation with my friend an hour ago. She was asking why I haven't sent any queries off, and she knows it's because I'm scared of rejection. She said “If you don't ask you won't know.”
    And the thing is I know she's right.

  2. Sharon K. Mayhew says:

    Sending out queries can be scary, but it gets you closer to your dream. When you get rejections look at them and see what you can learn…perhaps you won't get any (which would be totally awesom), but it's all about learning even in rejection. (I'm saying this for you and for me.) Amy @ Invisible Sister did a great post on rejection letters today. She's on my sidebar under The Wad…

  3. KLM says:

    What a great post. I know exactly what you're talking about. Even after I started querying, I still had these moments. When I would get a request for the ms, I would hold off sending for a day or two, just to stay in the “they're interested” zone and delay arrival at the “they've said no” zone. Good luck. There's nothing for it but pressing on, stiff upper query, etc.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Erica see the five comments after you, you seem to go to the dictionary to find interesting words, you don't sound natural. Your readers maybe varied, but a natural feeling touches the heart and mind easier.

  5. jdcoughlin says:

    It is tough. Really tough. I wanted to cry many, many times, but it does feel good just doing it. If it's a long road, or a short road, you won't know until you go. The only thing that's definite is that you'll have a great dinner party story. In the meantime, you write your second. You learned some things along the way already, right?

  6. Kay Bigelow says:

    No matter how many times I've submitted either to publishers or agents, pressing the Send button is always hard. But the first time was the hardest. It does get easier.

  7. Shonna Slayton says:

    LOL! I'm also waiting on some contest results before I submit a certain manuscript. ACK! Would they hurry up already so we can move on with our lives . Great post.

  8. Andrew Culture says:

    Last year I sent off a non-fiction book that was so unready it makes me wince when I think about it. I send off a novel a few days ago but I had to be REALLY sure it was ready!

  9. Dana says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I can relate. It's so hard at times to distinguish between prudence and fear. The more I know about the publishing business, the more I hold back on submitting. Well, here's to a dose of fearlessness!

  10. Gail Shepherd says:

    We're all in this together, doll. I know this is an old post, but I got to it via your archeology project, and it's still as relevant as ever for some of us. I'd love to have an update–did you start querying, or hold off?

Comments are closed.