Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wolves & Writers

I have several writer friends who are experiencing stress for various reasons. They include:

  • fear of not getting another contract;
  • fear of not meeting deadlines;
  • fear of declining sales;
  • fear of not writing a book an agent or a publisher wants;
  • fear they'll be abandoned by their agent or publisher for the next big thing
  • fear they might have to go indie.

From my perspective, fear has replaced the one thing that matters:

  • love of what they're doing.

And from my perspective, most of the fear is tied to traditional publishing. 

Take a look at that list. Do you agree?

One writer I know is about to turn in another book. It's the last one he owes his publisher under his current contract. And then he's taking a break to reevaluate what he wants out of his career and out of his life.

This is the same writer who was screaming with angst because it had taken him over a year to get his second book out. He was worried he'd lose the readers who'd found him with his first book.

And he loved his readers.

What happened?

Again, this is what I see from the outside looking in (and my vision could be seriously distorted): 

  • Attention from either an agent or a publisher is an incredible affirmation of the work we've created and the value we have as an author. 
  • Affirmations are the things we say to ourselves to help us feel more confident and sure. Build up our egos.
  • If we're getting affirmations from a source outside of us, it can be difficult to truthfully analyze it for potentially negative consequences, especially if that source is something we began our careers dreaming about.

What's a writer to do?

  • Understand that fear-based decisions are never as good as love-based decisions. Not ever.
  • Focusing on those things you love will help you cut loose those things you fear. 

There's a Cherokee legend about two wolves. While the legend describes one of the wolves as evil or full of anger, I think substituting the word "fear" is equally appropriate. The other wolf is usually described as good, and I think substituting the word "love" works just fine.

"A fight is going on inside you," the old Cherokee said to his grandson.

"It's a terrible battle between two wolves. One is filled with fear. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, hate, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is filled with love. He is joy, peace, hope, harmony, serenity, humility, kindness, awareness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith, and light."

The grandfather continued, "The battle is relentless. It's to the death. And it's in you."

The young boy considered the words of his elder. "Grandfather,"  he asked, "which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee looked his grandson in the eye and said, "The one you feed."

It's all better with friends.


  1. This is an encouraging post, Peg. I may have been feeding the scary wolf lately, because I've been stressing over my current book—to the point where I've rewritten the opening and completely reworked the hero. I think it's time I started to feed the nice wolf!

  2. Yeah, sometimes it's hard to tell them apart. There are usually signs if we can just pay attention.