It's one of those days where I am inbetween stories and can't decide to turn left or right. I have this wonderful little plot in my mind, it's practically written - except there's not a word on paper. Still, I know the story, I know the sequence of events. It will be a Wuxia adventure, light hearted with a nice, friendly ending.
As my main niche is erotic fiction, my regular audience consists of adults. And yet... As a non-native English speaker, I wonder if my limited vocabulary would not serve for writing children's stories. Or rather, not -children-, but aiming at the age of 12-16. The age where children can be intrigued by feudal Japan, and Chinese customs; the age where they start to form their own opinion of right and wrong.
I don't mean to underestimate the effort it takes to write well for a younger audience. Using shorter words and shorter sentences won't mean less skill or effort. Perhaps even more as I shall have to put extra thought into getting the exact right feeling across in fewer words.
And yet... I doubt.
Won't I ruin the story by trying to oversimplify it? Am I making excuses for lack of skill in wanting to aim "lower". Do I believe I cannot make it work for adult readers?
Until I have worked this out, the story will exist only my mind. Hopefully I will come to a decision soon as the view from the crossroads only remains interesting for so long.
I know I am not alone.
The fear of failure seems to be universal. Most of us have tasted it in one form or the other. Big events or small, sooner or later there will be a moment where you wish to excel, and that is where the fear begins.
It is all perfectly fine and manageable while within closed doors but for a writer, or any artist, there comes that moment when sharing with yourself is no longer enough.
Submitting your work for review takes courage, I imagine. I say 'imagine' as I have not yet tried this personally although the facts that: I am eligible to post, have a nearly finished piece, and can't imagine ever considering it fit for review, does sound some warning bells.
I can't describe the terror I feel at the mere thought of posting my work for review. Even writing a critique leaves me with clammy hands and a racing pulse.
From the many posts dealing with this topic, I know I am not the only one going through this phase but it doesn't help. Neither does the reassurance that excellence is not expected.
I am aware that this is a workshop, a tool to learn and share but the nagging sense of discomfort stays. What if my comments steer the author in the wrong direction? What if I come across as ignorant, blunt or worse, arrogant? Who am I to critique writers of far greater skills than my own?
I fidget and reread my critiques, dreading to hit that damning enter key. I want to delete my intended post, I want to rephrase it and edit until it has a semblance of sanity. I want to sound like I know what I'm doing when I am really just floundering about.
Posting my first critique almost took more courage than I possess but after much deliberation I did hit that enter key. I had expected relief - done is done, after all - but I felt more nervous than before and waited anxiously for other posters to shine their light on the piece I had just critiqued. Would they agree with me?
In the end, what other reviewers thought didn't matter as the author replied. "Thank you, I found your comments very helpful." A free quote, but it gets the message across.
That message did more good than any of the previous reassurances. It inspired me to critique again, and helped me to realize I had indeed learned something. I had learned to overcome my fears of failing in the public eye.
I doubt it will ever fully go away and perhaps that is just as well, but that simple 'thank you' more than makes up for any anxiety I may feel.
I learned this first lesson. Onwards! I'm ready for the next challenge.
Separate names with a comma.