First Time’s a… Beast.
To be honest, most of my “first times” were so long ago, I don’t remember them. I usually blame my crap memory on age. But my lack of recall is mostly because I want to forget those awkward, first times that left me feeling—and looking—like an idiot. It’s convenient to blame them on something I have no control over. I’ll own it.
There are, though, a few things I’ve tried for the first time recently enough that I remember them well. The two that have made the most impression on me are writing my first novel about 10 years ago, and getting my scuba open water certification about 3 years ago.
Those first time experiences, like most, one thing in common: fear. Sure, there’s the exhilaration you get when you try something new and survive or even succeed at it. But at the heart of everything new is fear of failure.
For me, scuba wasn’t a given. I love the water, and I love to swim and sail. But I’m also claustrophobic. The first time I tried breathing on a tank in open water, nearly 20 years ago, I just about lost it. Sitting on the bottom, waiting for the entire group to join me, all I could see were bubbles in front of my face. I forced myself to breathe through my panic and I was able to complete that first dive. Still, years later, when I waited on the bottom of a deep swimming pool waiting for the scuba instructor for my first class, the panic resurfaced. I barely slept the night before.
I eventually completed my certification. I’ve done nearly 20 dives now. But I still get nervous the first time I dive after months of not having done it. But it’s better each time. And when the jitters pass, I forget about the fear and I absolutely love the experience. It’s the most incredible thing, breathing under the water and being nose to nose with creatures you’re used to seeing in an aquarium.
Ten years ago, I finished my first novel, Blue Notes. I’d written and published two novellas before that, but this was the first time I’d written anything over 60,000 words long. And at least for me, that was a huge uphill climb. Because somewhere around 35,000 words, stories need a burst of energy and focus to keep going or they drag. And discovering that extra something took me so many rewrites, if you put all the text I cut into one document, it’d probably be the length of a second novel. I won’t even try to guess how much time I spent on the rewrites.
Ask anyone about why they’re never satisfied with whatever they’re working on (writers, especially), and they’ll say they’re trying to make it “the best.” If you read between the lines, though, it’s only partly about that. More than anything else, it’s about fear of failure. Now, as I work on my twenty-third book, I still fight the fear. But once I get past it, I remember why I write: because I love writing.
Fear is the counterpart to discovery. Trying something new is almost always fear-provoking. We’re wired on the molecular level to fear the unknown. When I think back to those first experiences I can remember, fear was a quiet undercurrent. You have to wonder whether we would experience the great highs that come with success without fear to spur us forward. Maybe it’s time we look at fear not as a barrier, but as a platform to step up to something new and exciting. – Shira
Shira’s Upcoming Release –
Swann’s Revenge (Dreamspun Desires)
Can a swan make peace with his ugly duckling past?
Chubby geek Jimmy Zebulon’s heart broke the day his high school crush, Danny Parker, looked on as his teammates tormented Jimmy. Fifteen years later, Jimmy is long gone, and from his ashes has risen Graham Swann, a movie-star-handsome law firm owner. Graham thinks Jimmy and his past are long forgotten—until attorney Dan Parker shows up for his first day of work.
Getting injured playing college ball was the best thing that ever happened to Dan. It turned his future in a better direction and allowed him to emerge from the closet that trapped him.
Graham wants to believe his childhood dream can come true, but he can’t bring himself to tell Dan who he really is—and their pasts might ruin any chance for a happily ever after….
Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/swanns-revenge-by-shira-anthony-9268-b
Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca by clicking here: Shira’s Singing
Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She’s happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it’s fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.
In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She’s happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it’s music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she’s lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.
Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 35′ catamaran sailboat, Land’s Zen, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she’s found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she’s on the water.