How dare we not be perfect?
Little wonder our ingrained fear of failure holds us back, particularly in a creative field where our work is subject to multiple layers of opinion. Yet we've chosen to be authors, we've chosen to subject ourselves to public censure in hopes we'll acquire accolades. Fans. Followers. Automatic buyers.
Playing it safe doesn't get us what we want.
Fact is, we will fuck up. More than once. Quite often actually, if we're any good. It means we're learning, we're challenging our comfort levels, and we're widening our horizons. We're evolving as better people, better creators, better initiators, and better instigators of helping others grow. As long as we're not making the same mistakes because we repeat the same methods or remain in the same mindsets, then we shouldn't fear failure.
Sure, educating ourselves can be difficult. Being dragged for screwing up can be devastating. Have courage. Dare to learn from the mistakes. Dare to improve. Dare to try again. Dare to fail, because the feeling of overcoming that failure, of earning that accomplishment, that's soul-deep satisfaction. That's the stuff that makes life worth living.
There are certain readers of my work who've been delightful ~cough~ enough to say, "Hey, KAK, that first book is quite crap. Now that you're writing better stories, are you going to go back and fix the shitty one?"
No, I'm not.
I absolutely can see the flaws in my early work. Yes, I cringe when I re-read it (and I do re-read it to double-check certain rules of the lore I created.) I'm not going to change that book because I consider it the starting point in a public record of improvement. I'm not ashamed of failing. Yes, it's taken me a long while to get comfortable with that notion. Now that I have, whoa, I'm so much happier with me.
Say this aloud, "It's okay to fail."
Look at it this way: Reviews that say "this series just keeps getting better and better" are much preferred over "the first book was great, the rest are DNFs." Besides, I consider my failures to be learning opportunities for others. Yep, I've got just enough ego to hope that someone out there who isn't confident in whatever aspect of their life gets ahold of my series, sees the flaws, sees the improvement, and what they take away from that progression is that it's okay to stumble and keep going. You don't have to be perfect in public. You just have to keep challenging yourself.
Fail. You have permission.