Look Fear in the Face and Kick

Sink or Swim


You’ve heard the adage, sink or swim. It’s a phrase often shared when one is facing something difficult, be it a choice, future, task, or survival. When we find ourselves with little recourse in life, sometimes all we have left is to take a leap of faith.

Sink or swim is a simple, to the point, and powerful statement. It offers only two choices – success or failure. It’s also an affirmation of what each of us is capable of doing.

I left home before the age of eighteen under difficult circumstances, moved to the city, thirty minutes from my home, and rented a one-room apartment. My apartment, situated on the top floor, consisted of a bedroom, unheated kitchen (unless you counted the oven) and a shared bathroom across the hall in an old, rundown house. Located in a “bad” section of town it was, thankfully, close to city transportation.

At seventeen, in school with only a part-time job, I was on my own, and anything after that was my doing. I could either wither under the pressure, let fear paralyze me, or soar under the wings of freedom. I could either sink or swim. I chose the latter.

I learned about public transportation, memorized the bus schedule, and discovered the power underneath my legs. If the bus didn’t go in my direction, my legs did. I penny-pinched and learned the value of a dollar. I studied hard, made friends, and fought back the fear of unchartered territory with determination and confidence I didn’t feel until much later.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”

Two years later, I would graduate nursing school, marry, and begin a family. To this day, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life and left memories that still bring a smile to my face. At seventeen, I looked fear in the face and I kicked.

“Faith is believing that one of two things will happen. That there will be something solid for you to stand on or that you will be taught to fly.” Unknown


Do You Have Story Attachment Syndrome?


Story Attachment Syndrome (SAS), as I like to call it, is similar to Helicopter parenting. And for those of you unfamiliar with the term, I’ll paraphrase. Helicopter parents hover over their children in a state of extreme concern, protect them from real or imagined harm, resolve stressful situations and get them out of trouble, even if they misbehave. Experts say overprotective parents hinder a child’s ability to grow into mature and responsible adults.

Writers often behave in a similar pattern when it comes to writing a story close to the heart. Our stories are our babies. We know them inside and out or think we do, and don’t want anyone else telling us a scene, character or, God forbid, the whole plot isn’t working. They hover, protect and refuse to accept constructive feedback, make revisions or edits, even when doing so would make the story stronger

We’ve  all been there at some point in our writing journey, but the key to finding a cure, as with anything, is to recognize we have a problem. SAS is no respecter of persons and can affect writers of all levels of experience. Long-term effects cause less confidence,  a floundering work in progress (WIP), sense of hopelessness causing one to stuff the WIP in a drawer in defeat, or arrogance and sending a poorly written story to the world.

You Might be Suffering from SAS if:

  1. You have a manuscript or story you’re struggling to complete (extreme concern). Think, as in years.
  2. If you protect parts of your story, you know in your gut, may be detrimental to the story as a whole.
  3. You insist certain scenes or characters are essential to your story, despite feedback they need revision or not working.
  4. You avoid feedback altogether because it’s safer.

Children learn from making mistakes if we let them. So do writers. Overprotecting children or manuscripts, for the sake of avoiding failure,  will result in the very thing we wish to avoid. Trial and error help us become skilled, confident writers and published authors.

Fortunately, like Helicopter parenting, SAS is curable.

How to overcome SAS?

  1. Step back and honestly evaluate your story or solicit the help of a trusted editor or Beta reader.
  2. Don’t shy away from thinking outside your plotline. Revisions are part of growing as a writer.
  3. Remove your protective blinders and listen to constructive feedback.
  4. Believe in yourself – not every story will be perfect, but practice does make perfect.

As someone who has been working on my novel, for several years, I can relate. I’ve revamped a few things in my story, changed the timeline, and scenes are in the trash.

My helicopter has landed.

If you would like more information, check out Jennifer Blanchard‘s video on story attachment.

What about you? Do you suffer from SAS? I’d love to hear your story.