Cycle 3.5 Mission Possible

Difference, B& W Photo: “All the Difference,” by Janet Riehl, driftwood, 2007 EcoArts Sculpture Walk, Lake County, N. California


by Janet Grace Riehl & Stephanie Farrow


Being on a mission directs our attention and effort. A mission blesses us with confidence.

Here’s my story. Of course I’d read and felt fear of failure over the years. But it wasn’t until I began my book Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary (2006) that I came into a new
relationship with fear of failure and longing for praise and success.

The big difference for me was the sense of mission that directed this project. I felt I needed to write this book, not just for myself and my family, but for anyone who had
experienced sudden loss.

As a reader commented in August (3.4), often what stops us is our fear that if the truth were known, no one will accept us. Even we won’t want to acknowledge our own true selves. Having a mission overrides this potentially  paralyzing fear. Accomplishing our mission becomes foremost, more important than any fear.

When I wrote, I just wrote. I felt nothing had to be perfect. In the drafting stage I felt I could do no wrong. I wrote with the door closed. Only a few trusted writing friends read the emerging work. They were filled with only encouragement at this emotionally fragile stage.

The lack of criticism freed my writing and allowed the story
poems to remain simple and direct with no need to impress anyone, including myself.

My sense of mission did knuckle under briefly at the point when I had to sign off on the last proof before publication. The door to my innermost thoughts would be fully flung

What if my family was mad at me because of the story I told? What if readers judged me as a person for the truths I bared? What if lovers of literature laughed at my attempt to write poetry? My stream of fears of being judged unworthy became endless.

Luckily, at the moment terror struck, I was visiting my longtime friend Stephanie Farrow in New Mexico. She
held my hand and said, “Janet, you have to let it go now. You’ve done everything you know how to do. The book must make its own way.”

To overcome our fear of failure, we need the armor of a sense of mission.  We need supportive relationships to bolster us during the process of creating and releasing our
work to the public.

Ask yourself:

  1. What is my mission? 

  2. Who can I count on to support me?

With a mission and a supportive network in place, your project becomes Mission Possible. You can surmount your fear of failure. You can do it.


Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog in the comment section below.
If you’d like to see previous articles in this series, go to

1) Buy our new audio book “Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music” at

2) Catch-up on Janet’s internet audio book tour at






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