My Biggest Fears as a Writer

My Biggest Fears as a Writer

I think no matter what you do, or how good you are at it, there is always a level of fear associated with it. Hopefully not enough to completely paralyze you, but enough to prevent you from just doing any old thing with the hopes that people accept it. When it comes to writing, I have a few fears.

4. Being lumped in as just another Black author
It’s a shame to me that Black writers are largely lumped together by book sellers without distinction of genre. Does it make sense that Richard Wright’s classic Black Boy, Melissa Harris-Perry’s Sister Citizen and Zane’s collection on urban erotica are all in the same section? To me, it does not. The breadth of our interests and our writing spans as wide as “mainstream” authors but many gems are hidden away in the “African-American” section, never to be discovered by a wider audience. I don’t want to be relegated to the AA-interest shelf. I want mass appeal.

3. Loss of inspiration/being a “one-hit wonder”
I don’t want to have one great stand out among a shelf full of flops. Nor do I want to have only one solitary contribution to the literary world. Instead, I hope that once I make that first offering, readers will be eager for more. But we all know that’s not always the case.  Of course, being a one-hit wonder is better than never having a hit at all. And in the words of Michele Grant, “Maybe some people have just one blast of perfection in them.” I just hope I’m not one of those people.

2. Not having an interesting story to tell
This is somewhat tied to the last fear. Yanno those people who can go on and on with a story, oblivious to the fact that you just don’t care? Or those folks who, no matter how you try to follow them, lose you to random thoughts and passing puppies? (Oh, am I the only one that easily distracted?) Yeah, I can’t stand that. So of course I don’t want to be guilty of being a bore! After reading books that I struggled to get through–and some that I unfortunately could not–the idea that my stories may not hold people and have them on the edge of their seat is a frightening one. Understandably, everyone won’t be into the tales I tell. After all, people’s literary tastes are different. Yet, for me, success means being able to pull people into the story, even if it is one to which they would not normally be drawn.

1. Being pigeon-holed into a particular genre
This may not be a bad thing necessarily, but I’m not comfortable with the idea. I’m currently working on a collection of personal essays. I also have ideas for an action/thriller novel, a book of poetry and a dystopian fantasy, but then what if I want to venture into romance or sci-fi? I have a wide range of interests and I’d like my writing to reflect that. I don’t want to be seen as just an author of a particular genre; I want to be recognized as a truly talented writer across all lines.

As fellow writers and bloggers, I would love to know what your biggest writing fears were (or are), especially when you were just getting started. And if those fears are behind you, what happened?

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