**I might fail
**I might succeed
**I might starve.
**It might be too unimportant to spend my life on
**I'll never have another good idea
**The next JK Rowling will publish a blockbuster (or Disney will make a movie) about my idea just when I'm wrapping up my final revisions
These are just a few of the common fears that can make us wonder if we should throw in the towel or hang up the computer. But they aren't to me the scariest thing of all. To me, the scariest thing of all is:
This business is so subjective.
We've all read, or tried to read, published books whose characters we don't like. Whose premises we find implausible. Whose plots bore us to tears. Whose writing is too verbose, too spare, breaks every rule we've ever been taught, suffers from "was-itis" or needs a serious adverb-ectomy. "How did this get published?" we cry. It got published because an editor (and maybe before that, an agent) and a publishing house thought enough people would buy it that its gross earnings would exceed the money they stuck into it and result in a certain profit. Which means they saw an audience for the book. And sometimes a great percentage of that audience likes the book. And we think, huh??
We can be on the other side of this fence too, of course. We go around crowing about our latest favorite book and others say, "Oh, that? Didn't grab me." We take our latest story to our critique group, and two like it and three don't. For different reasons. We tear it apart countless times. Three like it and two don't. Well, at least we're getting a little closer.
An entire chain of people makes a book happen: writer, agent, editor, acquisitions committee, marketing department, designer, artist, copyeditor, typesetter, proofreader, printer, binder, salespeople, distributor, reviewer, bookstore or library -- and then you finally get to the reader. And, except for those concentrating on the actual physical production, everybody in the chain is (1) going by personal taste, and (2) guessing. They're making the best-educated guesses they can, and they have commendable skills to be sure, but they're guessing. Writers tend to be a little weird in the first place, and those who feel out of the mainstream can wonder how on Earth they're supposed to get a bead on what will please a sizable audience.
It's one thing to say, "Well, I just wasn't part of the audience for that book I hated." Or, "All I need to do is find that ONE publishing house that thinks my book is the next great thing." Or, "There's a readership for this book, and one for that book, and as long as the right folks find each other, we're good." All of this is true. But as most of us have learned in one endeavor or another, finding THE ONE can be tough at best, and the chance that we may not is real.
So -- what's your scariest thing about writing?