Fear of Success

My current goal, besides publishing more short articles, is to revise my book proposal in preparation for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference next month. But revising the proposal seems so overwhelming, because I know I’ll only have an hour or so at a time to work on it, with multiple interruptions from the two young boys running around the house. I’m avoiding that familiar frustrating feeling that I’ve often experienced, that there is something I just HAVE to finish, but can’t get to it soon enough. The feeling reminds me of when you think you left the stove on or your bike unlocked, but you can’t do anything about it for several hours. Preoccupied. So I’ve been avoiding getting started on it because I know I will be sucked in in a compulsive way. It’s both a great and terrible feeling. Like a drug. I want it badly, but also fear its control over me.

Lately I’ve been tackling short articles with success. They’re only a page or two long, have only a few details to account for, and can be put to bed with only a couple days of intense focus. Like an alternative drug, I get the same compulsive fix, but less of that feeling that I have unfinished business.

I’m both afraid and looking forward to the summer. The boys will be out of school, my calendar will be less cluttered (I hope). The back and forth to school every couple of hours will be gone, but so too will my 2.5 hour break every day with time for myself, for my writing. The boys are old enough now to entertain themselves for an hour or two at a time with only a couple interruptions, but I still struggle with the guilt of taking the time to work on my writing when they’re home. Of course, I could be doing something to enrich their lives, reading to them, busting out the finger paint or clay, making them cookies from scratch. I definitely don’t feel like the boys are deprived, but I wonder if I’ll ever really accept that I do enough for them. I imagine it’s a feeling that every working mom struggles with. Right now, I never feel like I do enough, even when I do well above average. Ahh, the deadly grip of perfectionism.

I have developed a master plan for the boys summer education that is designed to relieve me from some of the guilt. Weekly play dates, science day, art & music day, and even an adventure day. The logic is that if I spend some mega-quality time with them in the mornings I can spend the lazy afternoons around the house writing and not feel guilty for not training them for the national spelling bee or teaching them Swahili. We’ll see if I can be that kind to myself.

Of course we also have some great trips planned. Next week we’re headed to visit my Michigan family. This will be the boys first plane ride and Michigan visit that they’ll actually remember. We have a road trip planned for July/August that involves us spending a week camping on the beach near the Oregon-California border. But my hope is that we’ll spend most of the summer exploring the world together and then they’ll be able to leave me alone for a couple hours to write. No wonder it takes years to write a book.

I’m going to post this blog (yeh, something is finished!) and take a look at that proposal. Hopefully I’ll be able incorporate all that I’ve learned this year and make it so much better.

Thanks for all your support.

Lorraine Wilde


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