Courage: The Flip Side of Fear

On this day when we remember the brave men and women who died to secure our constitutional liberties, a post about courage (bravery, dauntlessness) seems more than appropriate. The fact that Bravery is heads on the coin where fear is tails might not be as welcome.
In an article on Literary Hub, another author introduced me to this phrase: “Fear and bravery are different sides of the same coin.”
Since I’ve chosen to be DAUNTLESS in 2017, I wanted to reject this simple assertion.

                               “I’m defeating and banishing fear from my heart, mind and life.”

Isn’t that what it means to be dauntless?


But according to Hala Alyan, maybe I’ve been going about this dauntless thing all wrong.

NO Fear

I’ve been working under the assumption that if I’m feeling afraid and anxious about something, I’m not being brave.

Which goes in the face of one of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain, Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela. Yes, it’s such a great thought that many people have reiterated it in their own words over the centuries.

To conquer my fears, I must continue to move forward through the fire I’m sure will burn me. The Dauntless jump off the train with abandon onto the platform near their living quarters.

They might have learned to be adrenaline junkies, but the first (dozen) times they jumped, their hearts, lungs and stomachs surely rebelled. Their brains wanted to draw back, play it safe, keep away from pain and injury.

Every time they successfully completed the jump, the Dauntless experienced a different sort of adrenaline rush. Rather than fear, anticipation welled in them. They had tricked their brain into enjoying the dangerous activity.

          Strange how terror and anticipation can provoke the same physical reactions in our mind and body.

But our soul knows the truth. It knows if we’re still afraid deep down or if we’ve overcome that particular anxiety.

Being Dauntless

Once we’ve mastered jumping off the train, it means we need to find a new terror to conquer.
Or not.

Does being dauntless mean a continual rush into situations that overwhelm our safety barriers? If we’re playing it safe, does it mean our dauntless spirit will starve to death?

Continual stress kills. And pumping adrenaline through our veins is exactly what stress does.
I don’t think it’s healthy to live on the edge where our bodies experience constant anxiety, fear or terror.
Being dauntless doesn’t mean becoming an adrenaline junkie and heading for an early grave. Either from a broken bungee line or a heart attack from too much stress.

                                               And dead is dead.

Dauntless me isn’t looking for death. But DM should be willing to stare death in the face.

In my world, that’s more the death of expectations, death of dreams and death of pride. If I write a young adult fantasy novel and no one wants to read it, that kills the part of me with a message for those readers.
But it doesn’t mean I’m not dauntless if I change genres.

If the nonfiction book doesn’t garner interest with publishers, will I self-publish it myself? If I believe in its message strongly enough, yes.

And if only a handful of people read it and it helps even one person, it has succeeded in the purpose I have for it. Yes, if the sales are this slow, there will be death to the dream of becoming a best-selling nonfiction author and sought-after speaker.

But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t dauntless in the moment-by-moment action of living out my calling to write words that encourage others.

It takes courage to face rejection and failure. But if Two Face can flip the coin, so can I.

Do you agree that courage and fear are sides of the same coin? How would you define courage?

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Say “No Fear” to Rejection

Rejection. No one likes it. But dislike isn’t the same as fear. Let an author school you in how to say “No Fear” to rejection.

The road to a published book is paved with rejection letters.

Nowadays, make those rejection emails.

“I enjoyed reading your story…but the team has decided not to move forward with your novel.”
“We appreciate the chance to read your work, but unfortunately, the work is not a fit for our list at the moment.”
“Best of luck finding the right publisher for this work.”
“We’re going to pass, but we wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey.”

These are all taken from rejection letters I have received within the past ten months. There are more, but after reading one, they all ring with the same tone.

In the early days, I cried whenever I read a rejection. Maybe I stuffed myself with dark chocolate. Or perhaps curling in the fetal position with the covers over my head soothed my battered heart.

                                                      What I didn’t do was stop writing.

Not since deciding to “do this writing thing” for real.

I’ll admit that the beginning of this year, I was battered by all the rejection. It seemed like every open door slammed in my face.

Maybe I should stick with writing short stories and novellas. Perhaps I didn’t have the skill to craft a novel that would engage readers from the first line to the last.

Doubt wormed it’s way into every writing session.

Why am I even doing this?

And that was the right question.

Be dauntless, my friend. When the doubts seep in after rejection pulverizes you, seek your personal motivation.

Why do I write?

Because I can’t stop writing. I was born to do it. I’ve been making up stories since I learned to read and write.

“You don’t have to publish everything you write,” a published author friend of mine told me. “Some stories are lessons.”

True, but do the published authors of the world still need those lessons? Can they spend months on a project and then throw it aside?
I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to write only those stories which will find a home in readers’ hearts.

   So post them on your blog.

I rejected the inner voice without a second thought.

Maybe I should have listened. All those months hammering out the GATES OF ASTRYA series only to have four manuscripts hanging out on my hard drive. More months creating a rocky world of dragons, and DRAGONS AWAKENING isn’t fit to circulate in the world of readers, if rejection letters are any indicator.

Be dauntless. Why did I ever choose that word?

Because fear wants to defeat me. It hopes to silence the storyteller, keep the truths my characters discover from shining into the world.

Sorry, Fear. As this quote says, writers persist. Rejection makes us stronger.

In the spirit of sharing emails from publishers. Here’s one I got recently from my friends at Roane Publishing.
“Thanks for sending along the 2nd installment in your series so quickly. Roane Publishing would be pleased to offer a contract to publish it. Congratulations!”

Who wouldn’t prefer this sort of email about their creative endeavors?

If I had given up on this “whole writing thing” when I read the first hundred rejection letters, I wouldn’t have ever made it to the point where I would here the golden words “we want to offer you a contract.”

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. Those reviews are the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

It’s the Future. What’s to Fear?

In the dauntless world of 2017, I’m facing down the future. I mean, it’s not even here, so how can it scare me?

Because the thing we don’t know is the one we fear the most.

Right?

I had complete confidence in my doctor when I had my surgery a few weeks ago. But I was a little uneasy about the whole idea of being put to sleep and waking up when it was all over.

Isn’t there a fine line between trust and stupidity?

Really, I was nervous because I’d never been under general anesthesia before. It was an unknown. Everyone could tell me all about how it happened for them (and believe me, none of them remember anything either. How do we know something crazy didn’t happen in that OR?), but I still wasn’t completely reassured.

Until I was prying open my eyelids and begging for ice chips in the recovery room.

Everything was over. It went according to plan. Nothing untoward was discovered.

Who was nervous? It wasn’t me.

Plans

I’m one of those people who makes plans. I outline the projects I’m going to work on and the vacations I want to take.

This makes me feel more comfortable about the future. I’ve got a handle on it now that there’s an inkling about what to expect.

Other people don’t want to plan because it raises their expectations. And then if things don’t turn out the way they planned, they get depressed or disillusioned.

Whatever floats your boat.

But if you know winter is coming and you don’t buy a heavy coat, who do you have to blame when you freeze your rear off at the bus stop?

Ignorance

Not everyone is all about planning for the future and setting goals. Maybe doing that makes them even more anxious.

But don’t swath yourself in garments of ignorance, as if tomorrow won’t come if you don’t think about it.

It’s coming. Time flows forward.

Isn’t it better to be prepared than caught unaware?

Do you fear the future? What about it makes you craziest?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.


		

The Word for 2017

I took a page out of Kimberly and Veronica’s book this year. My word for 2017 is DAUNTLESS.

Dauntless: adj. Not to be daunted or intimidated; fearless; intrepid; bold

Who are these women I refer to by name in the opening paragraph? What book did they write? How the heck does it connect with the world of Sharon Lee Hughson, Author?

A Divergent World

Yes, I mean Veronica Roth of DIVERGENT fame. If you haven’t read the books (pick up the one with this title and skip the rest of the series), let me explain.

The dystopian world in Roth’s books (set in a future Chicago), divides people into factions. Each faction serves a specific function for society.

The faction of daring people who do too many dangerous things to name? Dauntless.

No, I don’t plan to jump off a train at any point this year.

But jumping out of a plane while wearing a parachute is on my bucket list.

dauntless_definition

Three years into the “writing gig” and I’ve been feeling a little…discouraged.

And let me tell you, that does not write interesting stories that other people care to read.

Nor does it pen compelling queries and synopses to hook prospective agents or publishers.

In fact, discouragement is a major enemy to writing success.

So this year, I’m banishing Fear and his buddy, Discouragement, from my world. Step by dauntless step.

Design Your Destiny

Last month, I mentioned Kimberly Job to you as I worked through her goal-setting course.

The way Kimberly designs her goals and plans her success revolves around a specific word for the year.

This is similar to my yearly themes. And since I had chosen my theme before I got to the part in her course that specified choosing one word, I decided to choose one that would complement “No Fear This Year.”

I came up with courage, confidence and fearless.

My brain was leaning toward courage. After all, even saying “fear” gave me a nudge of anxiety. Names have power right? If I speak that demon’s name, will he get a foothold?

Yes, even though I wanted to be fearless. The exercises Kimberly took us through for our top five words showed me that courage was closer to what I was going for.

As in…get thee behind me fear. I have a sword and I’m not afraid to use it.

Except…courage was so…overused.

Then we watched the third DIVERGENT movie (INSURGENT, which is quite different from the book, and if I had watched it rather than reading it, I might not have wanted to boot the whole series to the moon).

And there they were…Dauntless in all their black-geared glory.

word_2017

So courage was swallowed and my word was cemented.

What’s your “guiding word” or theme for 2017? What do you think of when you hear the word “dauntless”?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.

Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.