Write through the Fear
For the past couple of years, I’ve been pretty fearless when it comes to my writing and also the path I’ve chosen for publication and how I get my books out into the world. This stupidity or stroke of genius (depending upon how you look at writing and publishing) has enabled me to write what I wanted to and ship it or put it out there. I have a lot of content in online stores (and in a brick and mortar or two as well), and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve accomplished so far–even when I really didn’t know what I was doing. I tweak my plans a lot and have no problem doing so. I feel fine with change and go full speed ahead, generally.
So, this emotion I’m feeling lately is new to me. It has crept up big time in the last week. Namely, it’s a big old, ugly monster with yellow teeth that sits perched on my shoulder and pipes up every ten minutes or so while I write. “Hey. Are you sure this serial is any good? You should probably stop now or erase that and rewrite that page.” I try to brush the voice off, and most of the time, I’m successful. As you might imagine, though, the voice of the Fear Monster wears on me. I confided in a friend that I wasn’t sure if what I’d written in the last couple of weeks or so sucked or not. She compared my pregnant and brain fogged state to being on different drugs and not knowing if what you are doing is crazy or not.
Yeah. I guess I can see that comparison.
So, what do I do? What do you do when the monster in the closet that usually slobbers under cover of darkness at night in your worst dreams comes out and taps you on the shoulder?
What I am doing is writing through the fear. So what if what I’ve completed isn’t good? Editing will work. I am relying on my editors to tell me if anything crazy happens that I don’t see. They have done so in the past, and I’m sure they will now and in the future. I have a feeling, though, that this fear is the result of some crazy hormonal thing. Then again, a good dose of fear isn’t a bad thing. It’s keeping me sharp. I’m re-reading a passage, rather than breezing through a first draft.
Perhaps an excerpt from “In a Dark Time,” a poem by Theodore Roethke, describes the on-going battle with fear:
A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is–
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.
Dark,dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
Fear is part of life. Today, I chose to walk through it and to bat the monster away. I came out on the other side. Words on paper and an uneasy sense of accomplishment were the product of my being afraid that what I was writing was not good enough. And I’m okay with that. How about you? How do you handle fear in your life, art, or work?