Week 1: thoughts on Keyes

(I assigned myself the book “The Courage to Write” by Ralph Keyes. Seemed like a good place to start for someone pretty terrified to sit down and try to put things out there. So for the next few weeks, I’ll be writing some reflections on what I’m reading.)

The primary feeling I had after the first two chapters of “The Courage to Write” was relief. The first chapter was essentially a litany of all the fears resting within writers through the ages–the historic sense of dread that seems to haunt every great writer regardless of his/her success and tenure. So the main message there seemed to be you are not alone. Which, for me, does provide a fair bit of comfort.

In chapter 2, Keyes seems to boil the essence of a writer’s fear down to the fear of exposure. I whole-heartedly agree with that. It is at the root of all my hesitations–fear that, should anyone read anything I put real effort into, they  will know me for what I fear I am: a poser, a hack, a terrible writer. For as long as I have been engaged in writing in one way or another, I have always suspected that those who have encouraged me along the way, who have given me positive feedback and insisted that I keep writing, were just being nice. I have a deep-seated suspicious that I have been tricked into thinking I have any skill as a writer that merits attention. The acknowledgement that dozen of certified “good” writers have suffered from these same misgivings is somewhat reassuring, but really does little to lessen my fear of exposure.

I am a little wary of how helpful the entirety of the book will be as it seems like Keyes may break things up into the different stages of publishing in order to address the fears associated with each. But, lordy, I’m so far away from most of those fears that reading about them almost creates more shame—like why am I bothering to learn how to deal with fears on a level I will never reach?

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