I used to be afraid of many things. When I was little there was a never ending list of things that scared me silly. I was terrified of the woman who lived in the closet under my stairs. She could only come and eat me if the lights were off and the doors were left open. I made sure, with a constancy that resembled OCD, that those two rules were NEVER broken. (Thus, she never ate me.)
Dogs made me sick with panic. My mother bought me one so I could conquer my fear, but that poodle was scared of dogs too... so we cried together every time one came near us on walks.
Spiders, snakes, bugs of any sort. Strangers, darkness, thunder. Failure, success, people in general. All these things scared me.
So what happened? My daughters will tell you that I'm not afraid of much. I dive off cliffs. I collect spiders in jars, I let all sorts of creepy crawlies skitter on me. I've walked with packs of dogs. I jump at the chance to face what I'm afraid of.
If I feel any fear, I take it as a dare and I DO IT. That's the key. Do what you are afraid of and then you push past it. It's thrilling, really. Almost addictive.
But let's have one qualifier here: People always mix up fear with instinct. I can tell the difference, can you? Fear is a rush of adrenaline that feels irrational. Instinct is when your mind, heart, and gut come together in a trifecta of total rationality and scream at you not to do something.
I always listen to my instinct. But I defy fear.
When we write and we put ourselves out into the world we have to be unafraid. If we're scared we won't survive. Overcoming fear is essential to the process of publication. Failure? Bring it on. Success? Have at me. Criticism? Take all the shots you need.
BUT there's one VERY IMPORTANT RULE: Don't mention the lady under the stairs. She still scares the bejeezus out of me.
How about you? What are you afraid of?