Feel the fear and do it anyway

(Published on LinkedIn April 15, 2015) The printed proof of my first book will be in my hands in a few short days (okay a few long days!) and the reason it took this long is me. Nothing else. It is vaguely possible that I am a big goober.

Long story short, my e-book was up on Amazon two years ago, under a pen name, and I wouldn’t even put my face with it on the Facebook page I built for it…just the book cover as the image.

Why? I was scared. Scratch that. I was terrified. And sure enough, the moment (and I mean, the moment) I got a semi-negative review for the book on the Amazon page, I yanked that book down, and it has moldered in the digital ether ever since.

Why? What was I afraid of? I still don’t know, looking back down these last two years.

But some switch flipped somewhere in the last few months, and I came scrambling out of the gate with it this time. To say that the difference is liberating is really underestimating what that word actually means. I’m not writing this to advertise it, cross my heart–although I will be putting the information at the bottom of every one of my posts from here until I kick over the traces.

What I am here to say to you, and to everyone who reads this, is that I made a mistake and I’m hoping you don’t.

If you’re stopping because of rational fears, like you want to jump out of a plane using only an umbrella and a peanut butter jar for aerodynamic support and you’re afraid you’ll die, well you’re right, don’t do that.

But if it’s a whole bunch of what-ifs like mine, well, honey, it is time to get over it and get on with it. I wasted TWO YEARS because one person didn’t think well of my book. Well, at least that’s what I told myself anyway. I was scared when I put it up, and I was scared when I took it down, and I probably breathed a sigh of relief the day I did.

As of this writing, however, the e-book is live and the printed book will follow as soon as I’ve finished reviewing it and my actual name is all over it. My website’s up, Google+ is screaming along nicely, and Twitter’s roaring in its wake; I have a Facebook book page up, my friends are probably all sick of me already (I did warn them), and if I get any happier, seriously, I’m going to have to sit on my hands to keep from waving at people.

What happened between 2013 and 2015?

I got over the fear. For me, it was much like the high dive at Balmorhea.

If you ever drive up Interstate Highway 10 in West Texas on a hot summer day from San Antonio to El Paso, it may feel as if it that journey never ends. But stop in Fort Stockton for lunch, and stop at Balmorhea about an hour later. It’s a genuine oasis in the desert, a freshwater spring that pretty much comes out of nowhere. There are just a few signs for the town, but almost no advertisements for the State Park or the amazing swimming and diving pool, so you have to keep your eyes open.

I went a few years back, along with much of my extended family. We all took our bathing suits, even though it was November, but it’s the desert, and it was still warm… it’s a huge pool that goes on forever of natural spring water, with fish and natural rock sides.

All the teenage boys and girls were daring each other with squeals and giggles to jump from the high dive.

I don’t like heights. Oh, I’m not terrified of them, like my ex-husband was, but not fond of them. Don’t like getting my head under water, either, especially my nose. And my ears. But when I realized I was scared, I also realized I had to do it. And when I knew had to do it, I didn’t take my time, and I certainly didn’t take two years. I walked out to the end of the board and I leapt.

And then I did it again, and again and again… until that fizzy, hurty feeling in my chest stopped catching at my breath every time I stopped at the end of the board and looked down.

I won. Oh, not over the folks who were in the water, looking at the lady in the matronly bathing suit above–I think that ruffle helps, don’t you? And not over the teenagers elbowing each other with their dares to get up on the diving board.

Over me. My fears. The voice in my head. The one that says. “You can’t, you’re too old, you’re too this, you’re too that… what if someone sees, what if someone laughs, what if someone points, what if you die?” It’s a fast talker, that one.

In terms of that fizzy, hurty feeling in my chest about the book? It’s still there–with every post on my book page on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, post on Google+ or my own website.

It will get less with every day, every post, every book that sells. It will come back with the first negative review (and there will be some, it’s inevitable, I know that now). It will lessen again with each positive review (and there will be some).

I’m doing it anyway.

I may not make a million. Heck, I may not make a hundred. I don’t know. But it wasn’t about the money–it was about not giving in to the fear.

Look, we all have that voice, though the what-ifs differ for each of us and the situation. “What if my business tanks, my employees quit, my customers quit buying, my suppliers can’t make inventory, my designers go crazy,” whatever your particular fears are.feelit

Here’s the deal.

You can make that fear eventually go away, but only if you do what you most fear–because if you don’t, I am here to tell you–the fear never, ever goes away.

Here’s the only one of the what-ifs that snarky little voice in your head never seems to offer up, and the only one you need most.

What if you win?

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