In The Art of Asking she talks about her fear of critics when she started performing, about the faceless people in the back of the room passing judgement. Later on, after she meets the audience, she realises that “they’re not scary at all. They’re just . . . a bunch of people.” And most of the time they will support you and want to see you do well. And this fear of criticism, of judgement, all stems back to a basic human need to be seen, to be accepted and to be loved. (I highly recommend this book to anyone! I don’t have the word count to fully explain how profound and moving it is.)
I am finding the book to be incredibly relevant right now. Last weekend I played a gig with my husband in a local pub. I used to sing in a band and had performed gigs, but it’s been about 8 years since my last one and I was absolutely terrified. Our friends kept telling us how brave we were, and I knew that they at least would enjoy our set, after all, friends will love you even if you fail. Once I got up there I was fine, I loved it and wanted to do more! And then something amazing happened, completely random people who we had never met told us they thought we were great! What do you know; the crowd wasn’t so scary after all.
I was 11 when I decided I wanted to write books, and as a teenager that was my go to answer when people asked the inevitable: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As such, I’ve been writing a novel since I was 15, so ten years now. In the back of my mind I always asked myself why was it taking me so long, am I just not cut out for this? It was only when I had an assessment with a creative writing tutor (who is sadly no longer here) that I realised why.
As long as I was writing my book it was in my hands, under my control. When it was finished I’d have to send it off and what if it was rejected, repeatedly? What if it was reviewed badly? And the most frightening, what if nobody even buys it and gives it a chance? Once it was out there and out of my control my work was at the mercy of the world, and what if they didn’t like it, and thereby not like me? That was why I never finished.
Granted, The Chronicles of Destiny isn’t that novel I was working on (I will get it finished someday!) but it is my first published work, something I had worked on with my mum, that we were very passionate about, something we believed in. I tried to push the fear of criticism to the back of my mind.
Self-doubt is one of the worst types of fears I think, the uncertainty and anxiety that is only within ourselves but is all consuming. I kept reminding myself of a quote in The Elder card, words that we ourselves had written, so I should probably follow the philosophy:
“Everyone who came before you and each who will come after experiences doubt, but those who allow it to conquer them return empty-handed; we do not remember the heroes who did not act, they are swallowed unknown into history. Within you is a seed of greatness, but only when you recognise that strength will the seed begin to
grow . . .”
When we got our first review mum called me up to let me know.
“We’ve got our first review on Amazon...”
Nervous silence on my end.
“It’s five stars and absolutely glowing!”
Now as you know, mum already has two published books, so whilst she still sounded positively thrilled with this news it wasn’t her first great review, but it was mine. I squealed in delight down the phone. Someone out there had bought our book (in itself thrilling) and they liked it!
Interestingly enough, no matter what has gone before, mum gets nervous too, every time. Writing a book feels such a personal part of yourself so criticism always hurts, but it's the risk we take if we want to share our work, in the hope it is of value to others. Mum told me that when she received her first bad reviews for Easy Tarot she wanted to crawl under a stone and it’s a miracle she ever wrote another book because of how awful she felt. So, the words of the Elder are very true, we're not alone in our fears.
And then more reviews popped up, again five stars. For someone whose confidence has always been a bit shaky, this is completely amazing to me! So I just want to say thank you very much for supporting The Chronicles of Destiny and removing my fears, I want to hug all of you! And if you haven’t already, please share your thoughts of the deck on Amazon :)
So tell me, dear readers, what’s behind your self-doubts? What does the Whispering Hall conjure up in your mind? Or have you overcome any of your fears lately, in any small or big way? I’ve told you ours, so please feel free to share yours - we love hearing from you.
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