Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Become a Ripley: Don’t let fear rule you. Declare your independence.

I’ll be the first to admit it.

 I’m scared a lot.

Probably just about every time I sit down to write. I’m scared that what I’m writing isn’t any good and that I won’t be able to fix it so it is. I’m scared that although I’ve managed to get an agent and a publisher I won’t be able to keep them. I’m scared that my ideas will run out, or that every idea I have has already been done to death. I’m scared that once my book comes out no one will want to read it. In short I’ve been panicked to the point of terrified at one point or another during every single stage of this writing/publishing process. Now, I’m not actually quivering in the corner all the time, but I am forever hearing from those little fear mongers in my head who are constantly wringing their hands and pulling a Private Hudson from Aliens:

“That's it man, game over man, game over! What the **** are we gonna do now?”

And I’ve started to realize that no matter how long I’ve been writing, or how much I’ve studied craft I’m always going to feel this way. There will always be moments where I’m absolutely scared to death. No amount of compliments or validation takes this feeling away. In fact, if anything, they only serve to intensify it. Before I was agented or in the process of being published I was scared that I wasn’t good enough to get to this place, but now that I am, I’m more scared that it was a fluke. You see how the fear just morphs into something else?
So what’s a writer to do about it? (assuming that you’re at all like me and get scared too. If you aren’t, if you’re already one tough cookie and feel perfectly confident, by all means enjoy the Alien pics and carry on. *hangs head, blushes*)
Here’s what I think: You have to become a Ripley and face your fears head on. You have to acknowledge them, but not let them rule you. In short you have to suit up, go after those fears with a big bad sci fi gun, and mow those mothers down.

Yeah there’s like a million more of ‘em incubating in pods, ready to hatch just when you least expect it and attach themselves to your face until you can’t breathe, but you know what they look like now and when they tend to show up:
"Mostly they come at night…mostly."
 You know where they live and how they multiply. You’ve conquered them once and you can darn well do it again because if you’re a writer it’s what you have to do to get the words out and finish that book.  It’s what you have done each and every time you decide to write in spite of a rejection or a failed story or a shelved manuscript. Declare your independence from your fear and you are one step closer to realizing your dreams. Let it rule you and you’ll never get there.
So make this day your Writer's Independence Day. That's right. Claim those fireworks for yourself. Who's with me?
Over the years Amy has been, among other things, a doll maker, a fondue waitress, a fifth grade teacher, and a stay at home mom. Now she writes contemporary young adult novels full time when she isn’t tackling the Mount Everest of laundry piles and refereeing smack downs between her two very lively daughters. Her book, THE SILO, about a girl whose grown up in an apocalyptic cult and the last few months leading up to what might be the end of the world will debut with Random House in the fall of 2013.


  1. Many knowledge and information I got from your site, thanks and greetings of friendship from Indonesia.

  2. I'm with you! Well, I'm trying to be with you!! Is it lame that I recite the litany against fear from Dune to myself? Well, I do : D

    Here it is:

    "I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing......Only I will remain."

    1. AND yet another Ruth thing that I'm going to steal...really, I soon I'm going to be your stateside clone...if you can disregard my blond hair...and general lack of humor...okay, maybe not your clone exactly, but a serious copycat:-)

  3. Great Aliens analogy. That movie kicks butt on so many levels and is a metaphor for life! For really.

    1. I so love this movie and am jonesing to rewatch it now that I went looking for the pics and quotes.