AW – Anticipatory Worry

For all intents and purposes, I really don’t consider myself a superstitious person, but I do have this annoying condition I refer to as anticipatory worry . Like, I’m always waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. Or I come up with these silly cause and effect scenarios in my mind as if something I say or do will cause a negative (very seldom positively) effect.

For instance, I often have this inner dialogue with myself. “NO, I can’t do that (insert anything for what ever circumstance) because then this (insert something negative and usually irrational) might happen.” Sometimes I even rationalize the irrational by thinking that if I say it out loud it will somehow reduce the negative impact I’m already worried will happen.

Weird? Yes, I know. And I bet if I could see all your faces right now, they’d be identical to the “Really” side-eyed look my mother shoots in my direction when I actually do say these things aloud. (so, go ahead an queue The Twilight Zone theme).

In reality, I know most of this stems from my General Anxiety Disorder with a healthy does of OCD thrown in for good measure. It’s been a part of my life for so long, I’d miss it if it weren’t there scratching at the back of my brain when something is on the verge of happening and I’m “what if-ing” it to death.

Which brings me to the why of this blog (I know you’re thinking, “Finally!”). A few weeks ago, I entered a writing contest. My main objective for submitting was to obtain feedback from published authors who know what sells. Even though I can admit I do have the ability to string together a few sentences that make sense and may be somewhat entertaining to a reader, I also realize there is a heck of a lot more I can learn to improve my craft.

Now, many writers would have announced to everyone who would even halfway listen that they’d entered a contest. Not this girl.  Oh, sure, I hesitantly mentioned it to a few people – a couple close friends, my writing buddies, and my mom. But even as the words came out of my mouth or were written in a text or comment, I was a mixture of apprehensive and embarrassed. Not because of what I had written or was ashamed, but because I worried they’d think me silly for daring to believe my writing was anywhere near contest worthy.

That I was just chasing rainbows?.

Of course, none did. Somewhere in the saner regions of my brain, I knew they wouldn’t. Still, that nagging AW was front and center. What if secretly they did think I was chasing a pipe dream? And surely, because I’d told them about entering the contest, I’d surely reduced any chance I had of wowing the judges who’d read my entry.  From there, the snowball of AW took off – The judges will think my writing god-awful. I’ll be mortified with the results especially when I’m asked how I did.

Yeah, by entering the contest, I’d pretty much just ruined everything.

Crazy, right?

Well, I wasn’t so sure after five weeks had passed, and I still hadn’t heard anything from the contest coordinator. In my world, my AW had become a reality. I’d jinxed everything by opening my mouth and confessing I’d entered the contest. Obviously, they found my work so terrible they didn’t even know how to respond. There was no help for me.

Still, I kept surreptitiously checking my email. On March 27, the response was there, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the subject line:  “Congratulations! You’re a Finalist.”

Un-freaking-believable.

Immediately, I opened the email. In a nutshell, finalists were given about ten days to take the feedback we were given to make revisions (if we wanted, which I certainly did) and to resubmit for the final round. I spent last weekend pouring over the suggestions the judges had given. Reading, re-reading. Revising, polishing. Re-reading. Revising, Polishing. Re-reading.

On Tuesday night, I re-read it for what I was determined would be the last time before I re-submitted for the final round.  If I didn’t, I’d lose what was left of my feeble mind. As I read through the first 25 pages of Santana’s Redemption along with the four page synopsis, I made a few minor adjustments and finally hit the send button.

Relief poured over me like rain.

Only it was short-lived when I remembered that a writing buddy said I should blog about becoming a finalist. Sound the alarms. AW was on high alert. If I blog about it, I’ll be telling people. And if I tell people, I’ll jinx my chances. Or worse, what I’d revised, the new judges (an agent and a copy editor) would hate (hey, even I was getting a little sick of the first 25 pages myself). My scores would be worse. I’d be forced to admit my writing is just not good enough and I’d might as well just give up on my lifelong dream.

You get the picture.

But Wednesday, I started this blog. The more I wrote, the more nervous I became. AW was riding high.  I couldn’t finish the blog. When I read over what I’d written, it sounded stupid. Plus, my Chicago shows were getting ready to come on.  Best to get lost in Kelly Severide’s piercing blue eyes than continue the angst of writing a blog I’d probably never publish.

But here it is on Saturday morning. I’ve revised what I had written on Wednesday (hopefully, you won’t think me too cray-cray). Yes, my AW is still trying to override what I should be proud to announce to anyone who will listen. What I should be celebrating since it is a crucial step toward my dream of becoming a published author.

But instead of shutting off the computer and deciding “Nah, it’s not worth it,” I’m still tapping the keyboard. Realistically, I have no expectation of winning The Catherine contest. Heck, I’ve already done far better than I ever thought possible. Plus, I received some amazing and invaluable feedback from the two published authors who judged my work.

Feedback, I will definitely utilize to improve everything I write. (even this blog!!)

Whatever the outcome, I do feel as if I’ve made two huge breakthroughs. First, I put my work in the hands of strangers to dissect and critique, and second, I didn’t let the anticipatory worry keep me from sharing one of my proudest moments with my friends, writing buddies, and my mom.

Although my anxieties have lessened over the years, they’ll never completely go away. Like a necessary evil, that’s probably for the best. Besides, they keep me on my toes. Sometimes help me laugh a little at how irrational I can let them get. But probably most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to fight through them. To beat back that old nagging AW and let progress prevail.

It’s not a huge breakthrough, but it’s a step in the right direction. And like everything, I thank the good Lord for that.

Write on!

PS:  here’s the link to the Toronto Romance Writer’s contest result site. My name is listed.  Wow, it’s for reals!!  http://torontoromancewriters.com/contests/contest-winners/

 

 

 

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