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Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Just as Dorothy and her compatriots experienced fear every step of the way on the yellow brick road as they strode arm in arm toward the Emerald City, so every writer worth his salt is terrified every time he sits down to write. As Hemingway put it, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

Writing is hard, painful, and frightening work. We make our hearts and souls vulnerable every time we commit a sentence to paper. We know, in the end all our ideas and thoughts, our sentences so carefully crafted will be out there for all the world to read . . . and criticize. Our work and, by extension, our selves will be judged. It's why writers are such great procrastinators. Fear.

Like the Cowardly Lion, we're all on a journey to The Wizard, the Great Public, who will read and pass judgment on our work. Will it measure up becomes, "Will I measure up?" Is it really any good becomes, "Am I really any good?" Our self worth becomes wrapped between the Table of Contents and the end papers.

We must do battle with fear every day and learn to separate our work from ourselves, just like everyone else. We all fail sometimes. Even the best have written a stinker or two. It's not who we are. Otherwise, it would mean our value changes with the success of our work, sometimes, we're of value and, sometimes, we're not. WE are always of value. Our work is just that -- our work. We more vulnerable than the average bear (or Cowardly Lion), because we put our hearts out there for the whole world to praise or reject, but it is still just our work that we've put our hearts into. It has no bearing on us as individuals. Besides, writing is supremely subjective. Hemingway is a giant in the world of literature, but I really don't care for his work. What do I know? I'm not saying it's bad writing, but it's a matter of taste. I just don't enjoy his writing. Kind of like Picasso. I get what he was trying to do, and I admire his audacity in attempting it, but I can't say I like most of it.

So, put on your armor, sit down with your pencil, typewriter, or computer and write away. Remember, J.K. Rowling reports receiving 12 rejection slips before finally being accepted. Keep at it. If you've got it, you'll know it, and so will the world one fine day, when the Wizard we've feared is revealed as just another man like you and me, trying to mask his fears behind a fearsome persona.Don't quit!

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