Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Monumental Fears

43 Comments

Image Courtesy of morguefiles.com

Image Courtesy of morguefiles.com

I was never afraid of failure, for I would sooner fail than not be among the best. ~ John Keats

Since I was five years old, the dream has been the same. I’m at the top of the Washington Monument. I step onto the escalator, misstep and fall to the bottom. Of course there’s no escalator in the Washington Monument, but that doesn’t keep my dream from feeling real.

As a result, I’ve been terrified of escalators my entire life. I go out of my way to search for an elevator, even steep stairs frighten me. I know I’m not alone, everyone fears something. Some common fears are death, loneliness, heights, commitment, germs, airplanes, the list goes on. There is even a fear of being afraid, it’s called phobaphobia .

Lately a fear of inadequacy has become an obstacle in my writing life. I fear that nothing I write is good enough. I asked myself, “Why would someone want to read what I write?” I question whether I can write something again that’s worthy of publication. This fear has stifled my creativity.

I started to think back to when I first started writing; before I had to worry about goals and conflicts. When I didn’t know what POV or a story arc was. This was before I studied books on writing and took on-line classes. Before I entered contests or had my work critiqued by a professional and before I was published.

Back then, the words flew on to the page. Yes, it was terrible, but it was fun. I wasn’t overwhelmed by all of the rules. I felt free to let my imagine fly. I was fearless. Now I use my fear to keep me safe. If the story isn’t finished, then I won’t have to send it out and find out it’s bad. If I don’t know it’s bad, I won’t have to face the fact that I’m a terrible writer. These fears have become my protecting shield.

I may never overcome my fear of escalators, but I will be bold once again with my writing. I’ve taken inventory in the fear department and I’m going back to the basics. I want to have fun again. When I’m having fun, I tend to be more creative. So, my future projects will be written purely for the joy of writing. If something gets published along the way, that’s icing on the cake.

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Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

43 thoughts on “Monumental Fears

  1. I tell you one thing, Jill – you are brilliant at analogy! I read this post with interest and a lot of empathy as I know this feeling only too well – I’m actually feeling it right now as I had, what I consider to be, an acceptable story rejected yesterday, so I’m sitting here licking my wounds and considering not bothering. Ever again. I know this malaise will pass and I’ll send it somewhere else eventually, but today, I’m wallowing in self pity and cliché.
    You are absolutely right to want to enjoy your writing – it’s what makes us do it, after all. I shall come back and read your post again when I’m feeling as positive as you are!

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    • Thank you, Jenny! I’m sorry to hear about your rejection. It’s so tough, especially when you feel so connected to your story and characters. I think we all need to take time to lick our wounds after a rejection. I do hope you’ll send that story elsewhere in the near future. But, kudos to you for stepping out and being brave. We never know what we’re capable of until we try. Have a great weekend, Jenny!

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  2. Jill, I can feel your pain. I’m in and out of fear all the time, and for all the reasons you stated above. I have the curse of perfectionism, which compounds my fear. Even though writing wisdom dictates we just get a story down and worry about fixing the problems later, my perfectionism (i.e. fear) is often paralyzing. The good thing is, it’s typically a temporary situation. This might be one of those times you sit down and write anyway, even if it’s about nothing at all.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a fan of your writing. I don’t blog on Fridays, but I log into my WordPress reader, and yours is the first post I look for. Everything you write about here is something I can relate to, which is a bit like connecting with a character in good fiction. If you ever want a new critique partner, I’m always game 🙂

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    • Oh Gwen, we are long lost sisters. I too suffer the curse of perfectionism. Sometimes I think I need to be medicated..LOL. My mind is like a crazy roller coaster when it comes to my writing and my confidence. Your kind words every week certainly help, thank you for that.

      It’s interesting you mention a critique partner. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. I’ve never had one as I’ve only recently stuck my head out of my shell when it comes to my writing, but you would be at the top of my list when I’m ready. I’m honored by the suggestion. Have a terrific weekend, Gwen! 🙂

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      • It’s amazing you write as well as you do, and you’ve come this far without the help of critique partners. I have 2 that I rely on regularly (and a third from time to time), and I credit my rise from bad to mediocre writing ability largely to them!

        By all means, let me know when you’re ready to become partners. I’d be honored!

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  3. Good for you kid
    Terry

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  4. It is so scary to put oneself out there for others to judge! As you point out, the fear factor increases when we focus on rules and perfectionism. You’re a beautiful writer, Jill, and please keep writing from your heart . . . that’s the part that nobody can define with rules, and that’s the part that no one can teach or “fix” in a line edit!

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  5. Great post, Jill. I just read a related item over on a blog called Crows Dreams. This guy has written forever – he’s got the chops – and yet he still can’t stand what he writes. He feels what you describe so well. But guess how he interprets this reality? He sees it as his sub-conscious self keeping him going at the writing because if he ever felt really good about something he wrote he thinks he would stop writing period. Just throw in the towel and sit on the pinnacle of his success forever. He takes this common feeling and makes it into a motivator. Check out this post – http://mdkelleher.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/dislike-your-writing-me-too/

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  6. That’s a great attitude, Jill! Take that pressure off of yourself. Go back to having fun and I bet things will flow nicely for you. Of course, I always enjoy your posts and think you are a very talented writer. I know what you mean though about the rules restricting you at times and making you fearful. I too am afraid of escalators. I get dizzy going on one and have to hold on for dear life! Have a fun and fear free weekend, my friend! 🙂

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    • Thank you, Maria! It’s funny because the stories that were published were stories I wrote for myself. I was just having fun with them. It wasn’t until later that I decided to submit them. If I think too much about the rules, my brain freezes.

      You’re more brave than me, I won’t even step on to the escalator. My hands sweat just at the thought. By the way, I loved your post today. You certainly have a way of combining humor with your words. Have a great weekend! 🙂

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  7. I not only enjoyed reading your post, Jill, but also the replies of others. So many of us want our voices heard and question whether or not anyone really wants to hear them. For me that manifests in struggling to admit I’m a writer. I use phrases like “dabble in…” and “play around with…” When you (and other writers) write about their writing struggles (enough “writes” in there??) it helps me know that what I go through is normal – for writers. 🙂

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  8. Thank you! I do have a nice group of people who follow my blog and always contribute to the conversation.

    I can relate to your struggle to admit you’re a writer. I was there not long ago and it’s completely normal. Others may disagree, but my feeling is, if you write, you’re a writer. You may not be a published author, but you’re still a writer. I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  9. Occasionally–not all the time, but as a fun boost–make a game of failing. Find some writing cohorts and make a deal. Give yourselves a length of time, a month or two, and set the date. Whoever gets the MOST REJECTIONS accumulated by that date, the others will take her to lunch and toast her amazing accomplishment.
    Seriously, during that time multiply submit, dig out little article or stories, give each one day to be checked over and sent out and submitted to various places, then move on to the next one. Make it a goal to go for the most submissions in a month if you don’t want to to the number of rejections. Whichever you decide to do, make it fun somehow.

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    • I love this idea, Marylin! Having fun in life is what it’s all about. I might have to see if any of my frequent visitors would like to participate. Of course, we’re scattered all around the world, but we could do gift cards…I think they’re universal! 🙂

      Thanks for the terrific idea, Marylin. You’ve definitely been a big motivator for me to submit as much as I can. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  10. It’s all about perspective. I find it interesting that we focus on the fear of the escalator instead of the bravado it takes to get in an elevator – the MUCH bigger risk. An escalator stops working? Walk or roll down the steps. An elevator? Not so much. For instance, it takes less moxie to sit in a room and send out submissions that will be reviewed by a minimal audience than to put oneself out there on a blog on a regular basis. I think you’re downright BOLD, Ms. Weatherholt!

    It is not my intent to minimize the importance of getting submissions out or to create an elevator phobia – it’s just a reminder we can choose what to focus on. And, as many of us know from looking too long at something while we’re driving, we head toward what we are most focused on.

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    • Thank you, Shel. I never thought of myself as bold, but your comment reminded me of how my knees where shaking the first time I hit “publish.”

      Your words struck a chord with me. It is all about perspective and I do have the choice as to what I focus on. I may need to refer to your comment many times as I make this journey. Have a great weekend!

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  11. Very thought provoking post Jill. I am an avid fan of your writing and do wait for the weekend to read your lovely posts. I love the topics you choose which touch all of us. I get absorbed and drawn into your thoughts. I love your style of writing which is the style of some of the great writers who have written about things they felt strongly about, everyday themes which make up our lives. This was the essence of their writing as it is yours. Never ever be discouraged by what these magazine people say about your writing. I love the confidence with which you have risen from disappointment. I and my friends sent some articles to the big names in newspapers likec New York Times. (LOL they told us to dumb down our articles since they believe their readers are mediocre people. Just imagine!)The net result , we did not get published in that particular newspaper. You are too good for the ordinary magazines. Just keep writing for fun and about things that interest you and you will always be the best for us all. We love you and wait for your lovely posts. Isn’t this enough motivation. Take care my friend and have a lovely weekend.

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    • Aw, Samina, you’re a gem! I appreciate your kind and encouraging words, they mean more than you’ll ever know. “Isn’t this enough motivation,” you ask, well if it’s not, I’ve got even bigger problems that I originally thought! 🙂 By the way, I love the comment by the New York Times…too funny.

      Thank you so much for your recent blog post, it was beautiful. I hope you and your husband have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

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      • I am glad Jill you like the New York Times comment. My friend went ahead and worked with one of their editors to dumb down her article, in the end she could not recognize her own article. It was so funny.thanks for appreciating my post. You and your family have a lovely weekend.

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  12. Jill, on escalators my Mum (80+ now) has never – to this day – travelled down one. Going up is no bother but she’s forever having to find staircases to come back down 🙂 If there weren’t any she’d just be stuck there.
    On writing you have the sympathy of all other writers, including several above. At first our writing was fun and fresh, and probably not very good. Now we have expectations of ourselves and standards and protocols to uphold. Time to find the spontaneity again and rediscover the fun.

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    • Your comment doesn’t give me much hope of overcoming my fear of the escalator. 🙂 Kudos to your Mum, at least she’s brave enough to go up. I perspire when I get near one.
      It is time to rediscover the fun of writing. I hope we all are able to do so. Have a great weekend, Roy!

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  13. I can totally relate, jill. I was thinking about how fearless I was before I began trying to get published. I wrote poems, screenplays, stage plays, novels, short stories–you name it. Then a phrase came into my life that stifled everything: “It has to be good.” I hear that in my head. It is the source of my fears, because it leads to the question, “What if my writing isn’t good?”

    Yet, the challenge of the pursuit of publication has its good side. We strive to get better at our craft, knowing that other eyes besides our own will view our attempts. Before, when I wrote stories for my bureau drawer, I didn’t care how something sounded. Now I work at honing a story and try to improve.

    So, I’m hoping for both of us that we recover that fearlessness in our discovery draft phases and as we strive to improve.

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  14. Boy, you’ve written it all, L. Marie. I’ve never attempted a screenplay or poetry. I curious what you prefer to write now.

    I also have some real bad stuff tucked away in notebooks and binders…real bad. I agree, the pursuit of publication does make us better writers, the old stuff is proof. One thing I didn’t have back then was the terrific support of fellow bloggers like yourself. Every day, the camaraderie of the writing community continues to amaze me . Happy Weekend!

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  15. It sounds like we’re on the same path Jill. I’ve recently started thinking back to the times when writing was “fun”. When I didn’t care about rules and dictates. I’m trying to capture that same energy again so I can get through my stories. It seems to work for a time, but it’s difficult to keep that critical voice quiet. I guess we just need to keep practicing until it gets easier. Hope you’ve had a great weekend.

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    • Yes, I think many of us are on the same path and experiencing similar situations. Recently, I made a decision to try a new genre and it’s brought the fun back to my writing. So far, that critical voice has stayed pretty quiet. Good luck with your new project at work. I hope you’re feeling better soon. Have a great week!

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  16. I have a family member whose motto is “don’t let fear stop you from having a good time.” While that can be a bit of a dangerous sentiment, it also makes perfect sense, and I try and keep it in mind sometimes whenever fear is stopping me from doing something. But I definitely understand fear while writing – it’s all tied into that vicious inner editor, and good for you for getting past it! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Jill, I just love your writing! If you’ve taken inventory of your fear department, then you must have taken an inventory of your courage and talent departments. I know with certainty that you’ve found an infinite level of courage and boundless talents which will take you where you want to go in the world of writing. Your words will come flying off the page as you envision:-)

    Now about that fear of escalators…I say continue to take the stairs or elevator. No need to cause undue stress in your life:-)

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    • Thank you for your kind words, Elaine! It really means a lot to me. When it comes to my writing, I’m taking baby steps in the courage department, but that’s okay.

      Believe me, I have no plans in the future to build up the courage to ride an escalator. I’m not afraid to admit, I’m a big chicken! Have a great weekend Elaine, and thank you again.

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  18. Jill, you’ve received a lot of wonderful suggestions and support from fellow writers. Isn’t that such a great part of the writing community. We’re all here to lift you up when you are feeling low. One of my published writer friends talked in her blog recently about The Doubt Monster. We all suffer from it, whether unpubbed, newly pubbed, or NYT Bestsellers (at least that’s what they’re telling me!). So, think about it. You are in excellent company.

    My advice is simple. Let go. Write. Celebrate the journey. You are talented and you will go far. Remember, the only difference between an unpublished writer and a published writer is that one gave up, and the other didn’t.

    (((hugs)))

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    • I love that, Jolyse! I don’t plan on giving up, that’s not my style. I appreciate your advice, coming from someone who has several books under her belt, I’ll take it! 🙂

      I’m constantly amazed by the generosity of everyone I’ve met through my blog and other blogs, it’s incredible.

      Thank you for your kind words and good luck with those edits! xo

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  19. I think it’s important to remember everything you write is the best you can write at that point in time. Six months later, it may look like crap to you. Revision is about making it good enough. Drafting is the most exciting part. You get to play and things happen that you never expected. 🙂

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  20. Fascinating. I considered doing a piece on fear and the writer. I got an inkling of the tremendous topic this is from a recent read of Stephen King’s On Writing.

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    • I have Stephen King’s book “On Writing” on my list of must reads in 2014. Fear certainly seems to be a common feeling among both published and non-published writers. I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. Have a great upcoming weekend!

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  21. Jill, I used to dream of falling all the time when I was a kid. It’s part of my memoir. I’ve written poems about it. Also, I am afraid of heights, and I wonder if those dreams contributed to that fear. I got on an escalator the other day and worried about elderly people using escalators. I couldn’t help myself. However, I have found that as a writer I enjoy being a risk taker. Thanks for a post that hits close to home!

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