Fear, Criticism, and Social Anxiety

Only my closest friends know that I have a ton of social anxiety. I don’t present that way. I present super extroverted actually.

One Rotarian told me last week, “Carrie. If I had one word for you, it would be engaging.”

That’s a pretty interesting word for someone who has massive social anxiety, right?

Almost every time I enter a room, I stand outside the door, stare at it, and whisper to myself that it will be okay.

Another kind person said, “When you entered the room, everyone got so excited. It was like a celebrity was there.”

I laughed and told her she was a liar, but it was such a kind thing for her to say, and it really meant a lot to me because of my fear.

My social anxiety tells me that I’m invisible.

Or my anxiety tells me that nobody wants me there.

Or my anxiety tells me, “Run! Run! Be afraid. You don’t belong. They will know you don’t belong. You will say ‘pubic’ instead of ‘public.’ Get out now!”

Gandhi was afraid of public speaking, another Rotarian friend from India told me, but he overcame that and started social change that lasted. By overcoming his fear, he changed the world.

Social Anxiety

The way my anxiety works is that it happens ahead of an event. It’s like stage fright. It happens about the simplest things. It can be about going over someone’s house even when that someone is my bestie. It’s like stage fright about having someone over my house, too.

I’m lucky.

My anxiety stops when I arrive at a conference to speak or get to my friend’s house or a party.

I’m lucky.

Because even though I do panic, I always make it inside the room or the house or up on the stage. That’s because I am so hard on myself that I know I’d never forgive myself for letting other people down or letting myself down because I’ve missed out.

All my mom’s responsibility lessons worked.

What does this have to do with writing?

Writing is about showing up. Writing is about communicating. Writing is about submitting your work.

But more than that, writing is about showing up, communicating, and submitting your work even though you are afraid and even though people will criticize it.

So how do you get over that?

You have to remember that fear isn’t the same as danger and that anxiety isn’t the same as danger either.

I’m not going to run into a flesh-eating manatee zombie at my friends house. If I fail as a speaker? Nobody will die or go to jail. If someone rejects my book or gives it a one-star review? It will suck, but I’m not going to die from it.

Anxiety and fear of rejection and criticism have something huge in common: They both deceive us into thinking that something dangerous is happening.

But when you overcome that fear?

Your book gets published.

You have a good time at your friend’s house.

You get to be engaging and speak and inspire other people.

Sometimes you even get fan mail. How cool is that? Super cool.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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“Carrie Has Potential, but . . . ” Dealing with rejection

Every writer hears that rejection is part of the process. You learn that you are supposed to roll with it, put them on the wall like Stephen King, collect them as badges of honor, signs that you’re getting your work out there. 

But sometimes they just suck. 

Who knows why, but one of those rejections will feel like an absolute indictment on you, your abilities, your soul. 

That happened to me this summer. 

The rejection was for something stupid, an app that runs stories like SnapChat. The rejection wasn’t even for a book, but when I read through the editor’s quick and kind-ish words, it broke me. 

“Carrie has potential, but …” 

There’s always a but, isn’t there? My 1,000-word horror story written in text form didn’t lay it out enough for the reader. This kind of writing wasn’t meant to have space to think. It was supposed to be all right there, one brief line after another. I can’t do that. I want people to have space and moments, to make their own inferences between the lines. Even when I write horror, I want it to be poem. 

“Carrie has potential, but …” 

But I didn’t achieve it? But my story didn’t have potential? But the world doesn’t need quick simple stories with gaps and holes and white space to explore? 

I sat and cried. The dogs watched. 

I sent out a text that said, “I’m depressed.”

“Gotta be happy,” came the text that came back. 

That didn’t help. Maybe my text had potential but didn’t explain the horrible hole that was stuck right in the middle of my chest where my heart was supposed to be. 

“Carrie has potential, but …” 

But I didn’t reach it? 

But I don’t write right? 

But I don’t fit with this app place? 

But I don’t fit anywhere? 

“Carrie has potential, but …”

But I don’t.

“I need a different job,” I text. 

And, yes, I texted that the same week that my last book debuted. And, yes, I texted that even though I’ve actually been successful at writing by ‘industry standards,’ whatever that means. 

I spend a lot of time wondering how I will continue to survive financially. I’m not a writer who has a wealthy significant other who supports her. I came from a long line of poor and I’m probably heading back there unless I can figure out how to reach my damn potential. And I spend a lot of time helping and hoping that other people reach theirs. 

But it’s not enough. 

There’s always a ‘but,’ isn’t there? 

Carrie has potential, but she doesn’t reach it. 

Actually, I do. I do reach it. I reach it on a million things, but maybe not for that project that time, maybe not for that genre.

Grab your potential, everyone. Move past the moments of rejection, feel them, but try not to let them crush your soul.

I know a lot of writers act like they are all joy-joy and bliss-bliss all the time. I know other writers act like writing is not as fun as snacking, or like it’s wresting demons from their souls. Some act like all they do is get rejected. Some act like all they do is be loved.

It’s both. It’s always a bunch of emotions and reactions swirling around.

On our podcast (Dogs are Smarter than People) this week (tomorrow’s), we talk about a lot of things, but we also talk about running and how it sucks so much sometimes and things hurt and how we try to run through them and not give up. 

That’s what writing and life is about, too. It’s about not giving up, going after your goals, going after your story. It is so freaking hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. 

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 



Rejection Doesn’t Have to Be the End

The first story I ever wrote was not the first one I published. It was the story I made up for Em, my kiddo, when we were in the car while I drove to assignments when I worked for our local paper.

Em
Em

I loved this story so much because it was for Em and a piece of it got me into graduate school (It was part of my application) and because it made me realize (again) how much I’d loved writing stories.

I’d spent a lot of time being in crappy situations. My car became my bed for awhile. College-onset epilepsy thanks to a weird Epstein-Barr virus attacking my brain derailed my plans to go to Ireland, to go to law school, and lowered my cognitive abilities. Some people were tremendously mean to me, people that were supposed to love me.

And I forgot who I was and what I loved (other than Em) until I started writing that story.

That sounds like a perfect trope, doesn’t it? Woman finds self by being a writer, becomes international bestseller, blah-blah-blah. Suddenly she is bathed in romantic lighting, hair flitting around her, singing show tunes or something, birds alighting on her wrist?

It wasn’t like that. My writing journey was hard and full of self-doubt and rejection.

I tell a lot of the writers that I mentor not to give up on their old stories, but to put them away for a bit. Writing isn’t a straight line to success and life isn’t always like that either. This post from pre-published Carrie back in 2005 totally shows that.

Hold on.

Today, is my whining day.


Two days left before Christmas and nothing is done. I haven’t bought presents for my parents yet! This is very, very bad.

But that isn’t the problem. The problem is that today I had the epiphany that I am THE STINKIEST WRITER IN THE WORLD and that I am NEVER EVER GOING TO GET PUBLISHED and that I’m spending $6,000 a semester to be a better writer, which means…. what? I won’t be as horrible as I was before, but still not any good. I am like the super ugly girl who keeps entering beauty contests. I keep losing, but I keep deluding myself that trying is a good thing. I really am pretty/an okay writer/not hideous really, really, really.

All of this is because today I received a rejection notice from Scholastic. They took my story off the slush pile and kept it for a couple weeks and then rejected me… on DECEMBER 23… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

What did I do? Oh, I am mature. I sat in the Subaru in the parking lot at the post office, put my head on the steering wheel and sobbed while my my friend pet my back, and my sweet little girl watched from the backseat, telling me that my story was “Super, super good and that editor just didn’t have good taste.”

I kept crying.

Now, I know I’ve given her something to talk about in therapy when she’s in her 20s…. “My mom was so weak. My mom didn’t believe in herself.”

Thinking about that just made me more depressed, of course.

Truth Time

That story didn’t get published in 2005. It didn’t get published in 2007. It didn’t get published in 2009. I published it in 2016 after I’d published a lot of other books.

This is that book.

Time Stoppers Middle Grade Fantasy Series by Carrie Jones
Time Stoppers Front – US versions

Time Stoppers is still my favorite because it is about friendship and magic and has crow monsters and dragons, but it’s also my favorite because it made me a writer. It made me persistent. Time Stoppers made me cry in cars. It made me push through rejection. This book made me be able to tell other writers, “Don’t give up. You’ve got this. Write.” I knew that it could happen because it happened for me.

So here, writers:

Don’t give up.

You have stories.

Your stories deserve to be heard.

Keep writing.

You don’t need to be a writer to hear this.

Don’t give up.

You have stories.

Your stories deserve to be heard.

Keep writing.




WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

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YouTube and Us

We’ve started (slowly) to post videos on YouTube. I hope you’ll check them out. They aren’t (cough) high-tech, but they are high-goofy.

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.