Have you ever taken a good look at the list of phobias? It’s extensive to say the least. You can find a phobia for just about anything if you search hard enough. We’re all familiar with the most common ones. Claustrophobia, the fear of tight spaces. Arachnaphobia, the fear of spiders. Or how about this one: arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter. Imagine that!
If I had a phobia, and I’m neither admitting nor denying it, but if I did, I would have to concede to this one: enosiophobia – the fear of criticism.
Okay… I admit it. I cringe just a little, teeny, tiny bit under the weight of that big word.
I am anal enough to also admit that I did google the different types of criticisms. Guess what? The list is just about as long as the phobias’ list.
Reasonably speaking, I know that all criticism isn’t negative. There is the constructive type, and when given in kindness and taken pragmatically, it’s great. And yet, even with this fact planted firmly in my brain, my heart thumps one beat too fast when a critique, good or bad, is directed toward me.
My initial reaction, many times, is to become defensive. Not necessarily externally . . . but inside. And then, I begin to reason with myself before approaching the “antagonizer.” I’m a great debater, you see. I’ll reason myself all the way around a critique or into a corner, whichever comes first, hoping to convince the critic to go easier on me.
But never did this fear of criticism strike me more strongly than when I became a writer.
Is there a fear of edits? Revisophobia, perhaps?
Now, I know my editors are on my side. Like me, they want my story to be the best it can possibly be, and this is the only reason for the harsh “appraisal.” Everything in me knows it. I know it when I’m asked to cut my favorite scene because “it doesn’t really add anything to the plot.” I get it when I’m told “it might be wise to write two extra chapters for consistency’s sake,” thus pushing our deadline back a week or more. When I’m gently prompted to use a different word even though I love the one staring back at me from the page, I still know it. And I still tremble and pout and really, really want to say, “What? Now you don’t like my word choices either?”
I can’t be the only author who suffers from this sickness, haha! Just kidding. Really, I’m not phobic. I’m just an author; I exaggerate for creative ambience. *wink, wink* But seriously, I think all of us can agree that when we write, every single word drips onto the paper straight from our hearts. And when we surface brandishing that beautifully woven tale tightly clenched in our fists and prepare to pass it under the scrutinizing eye of inquiring minds for the very first time, it’s a scary feeling. Gut-wrenching, even. In fact, I don’t believe I’ll ever get used to that lightning streak of unease that crackles through me and encourages a sudden dose of Xanax.
It takes me a good couple of days to work up the nerve to open up an email from my editor when I know it contains a myriad of critiques and cuts and suggestions. My hands get sweaty, my heart races, and I have no doubt, at least in that one single moment that I must indeed suffer from enosiophobia. The same thing happens when I notice a new review for one of my books. The moment of truth . . . and my anxiety level soars.
Because I don’t suffer, however, from scriptophobia (the fear of writing), I continue to subject myself to the scrutiny of editors and reviewers alike.
But if I’m being honest, there’s a bigger part of me that actually loves the fear. I’m pretty sure this oddity in me comes from the same place that makes me keep watching horror flicks despite the fact that I’m jumpy for days afterwards. It’s the terrifying thrill that I must have. Fear lingering over the shoulder of the writer in me eventually gives me the adrenaline rush I need to finally open that blinking message from my editor. It’s what drives me to work harder, to write better, to make those editors continue to say, “Wow, you’ve really come a long way since we first met.”
I like to think that with every book I write . . . handling the criticism becomes easier. To a degree, this statement is true fact. And I’m convinced that one day, taking criticism will be easier than swallowing swords.
Uh, yeah. Note my slight hint of sarcasm.
Casey Hays lives in New Mexico with her husband and two children. She is a former high school English teacher turned author. She loves Young Adult Fiction as well as supernatural, fantasy sci-fi, and dystopian–all with a twist of romance. She is the author of four works: “The Cadence” a YA supernatural romance, and Arrow’s Flight, a YA Christian dystopian sci-fi series: Breeder, The Archer, and Master, which released on January 15, 2016. Her short story “Edge of a Promise” is featured in the collaborative anthology PREP FOR DOOM, published June 18, 2015. Currently, she is working on a series of novellas for Arrow’s Flight, as well as a YA supernatural romance based on the legend of the Phoenix. http://www.whisperingpages.com/
Twitter handler: @CaseyHays7