The Scariest Part of Writing is Acceptance

When I decided to become a writer my biggest fear was that I’d never have an idea worth writing about. Experience taught me this was a needless fear. I found ideas everywhere. The trick is figuring out which ideas are worth pursuing.


When I had an idea worth writing about my biggest fear became the blank page, a fear often magnified by a deadline. Repeated experience taught me that a blank page isn’t that scary after all. Eventually I’ll fill it.

When I filled the pages my biggest fear was that what I’d written might not be good enough to submit for publication. I reminded myself that I was a writer, not an editor. I decided to let the editor make the call, and away the story went.

When I submitted a story my biggest fear was that I would be rejected. Although I knew a rejection was not personal, they sometimes felt personal. I reminded myself that I wasn’t being rejected, the story was. After that, rejection was no longer scary.

The scariest part of writing for me is acceptance. I would never have guessed this when I was starting out.

Until the story is accepted, only a few people have read it: me, a couple of beta readers, a slush reader, perhaps, and an editor. The delay between acceptance and publication is agonizing. It is like that moment half-in and half-out of the airplane door, with a parachute strapped on your back, and the ground little more than colored squares and rectangles far below. Instead of a handful of people, thousands of readers will see my work.

Then the story is published, and the fear vanishes. The story is no longer mine. Like the skydiver, I have lost control. I am at the mercy of a kind of literary gravity. If people enjoy the story, I feel good. If people don’t enjoy the story, there’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is breath in the experience, look in momentary amazement at what I created, and then begin the search for the next idea worth writing about.


  1. In a way, there’s just this new layer of acceptance/rejection, only this time it’s by reviewers and readers. When you just want to SELL this layer is hard to perceive.

    Then, you sell ten pro stories and you’re standing there tapping the microphone saying, “Hello? Hello? Is this thing on?”

    The joys of the literary life!

    Most of the joy is the blank page itself, which we all have access to, to degree we have the time to sit in front of it. So it cycles round to that.

  2. Oh! What a bull eye you hit. For you this story is a portion of your experiences. As for me you score a big mark in my heart. At the present, I am struggling with the same plight. Now I am at the point of publishing my very first book. I am now worrying whether I can get published. But the biggest fear is whether any one can think my book worth reading. Economic return is not my primary concern. The main object is to see my life long passion get recognised. Novice fantasy. But your article give me a good engcouragement. Thanks.


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