I’m afraid of success – are you?

AfterwardsAfter selling mere hundreds of my first three novels, my last novel The Most Beautiful Thing has now been read by around 30 thousand people.

Four years later, and I now have a new novel out. And I am terrified. I am afraid of failure – this book might be a complete flop. But I think I am even more afraid of success. Here’s why:

When I get successful then people will be more likely to find out that I’m a complete fraud. 

You know my novels, the ones that look like a proper author wrote them? I made them up inside my head! I don’t know what I’m talking about! I invent words when I feel like it! We publish the books ourselves! Any minute now, someone is going to reveal me as the clever faker I am.

The more successful we are, the more we expose our vulnerabilities – our secret fears and pockets of low self-esteem. I know that a few people will hate ‘Afterwards’. Actually, that feels fine. My pockets are getting smaller – I’m feeling quietly confident about this novel.

I am compulsive around praise & success & money.

When my last novel went up in the charts, my mood rose. When it went down, I felt deflated. Up, down. UP… down. UP! DOWN! The higher the ups, the more manic and excitable I was. It was exhausting for me and for my friends…

Of course, as the Buddha said, we should take both praise and blame with a big pinch of salt. The kind of buzz that praise gives us doesn’t last, and we just want more. I will focus instead on grounding myself in ordinary life – putting the geranium pots in the greenhouse for the winter, doing the washing up, spending time with friends. Feeling blessed when readers love my characters as much as I do. This is what is important – not those figures on a screen or in my bank account.

I am the kind of person who earns just-enough-money.

We like to know what kind of people we are. I’ve always been the kind of person who just about balances money coming in and money going out. If more and more comes in, this will be a big challenge to my identity.

We are always changing. I can let go of this old part of me and become ‘someone who owns more than enough money’. The truth is, I could do that right now, whether or not this book makes any money at all. These stories we have about ourselves are powerful, but they can and do shift.

If I get successful then I’ll have to look after myself and give up my hope that someone else will look after me.

This is an old story I have about my life. I always have to look after myself! It’s not fair! (it’s not true, of course.) If I’m not struggling any more, then I have to give up any hope of being rescued by someone else.

Of course, we still need people regardless of how successful or rich we are. Also, I am a grown up now and I can look after myself perfectly well (which includes asking for help when I need it).

What else am I afraid of? There are always more layers to the onion. Let’s hope that I get a chance to find out, as my book sells…

Are you afraid of success? Write down ‘I am afraid of success because…’ and then write a list of answers without thinking too much about what you’re writing. Let me know how you get on.

And the official launch of ‘Afterwards’ is late November, but I’ll let you in on a little secret… you can get your kindle copy right now (UK / US). Enjoy meeting April.

5 thoughts on “I’m afraid of success – are you?”

  1. Hello Satya,
    I’ve been browsing for so long this morning I’ve forgotten how I came across the link to your sites. Lovely post and very inspiring. I’m presently mid way through my first novel, having been writing for around six years now. I’m unpublished and considering self publishing next year providing the work is completed. I’m simply afraid of failure – the realisation that my words are not good enough to evoke even the smallest piece of positive appraisal. On a positive note, I realise this is quite natural, even for the experienced author.
    I truly enjoyed reading through your website today, and also the blogzine. Thank you and best wishes.

  2. I’m afraid of success because: to sustain it, you usually have to be something you don’t want; do things you don’t want. My writing comes from living.

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