Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Coming to Terms With Fear

I am not generally one to experience fear when I write. Normally, I am too immersed in the story to hear the Internal Perfectionist or Cranky Editor when they hurl insults or doubts my way. The fact that am working on series probably also helps with that, as the concepts and generalities of what I am writing have some proven acceptance.

But I do find myself struggling with Fear as I write this story, and it is not a comfortable feeling. It does probably mean I’m writing the story I need to be writing right now, but it also means I have to learn to come to terms with Fear, either by ignoring it, succumbing to it, or staring it down.

I am afraid I am writing a fish with feathers (to appropriate a phrase Blythe used over on Shrinking Violets) and it will end up being neither fish nor fowl, a spectacular failure. I am afraid it has too much history for a YA, and focuses too much on the romance relationship. But now that I am writing it in first person, present tense, I also know that if it fails as YA, it will have no home in the historical romance market either, so I have pretty much built myself out over a precipice.

And yes, I know that I just have to write the book, but as a working writer, it is extremely hard to devote so very much time to what I fear may be unsellable.

It is also absolutely necessary so that I can grow creatively.

But it is not a comfortable place to be and as I said, I am having many negotiating sessions with Fear.

Now for a complete segue which, I promise, will come full circle in a minute.

I subscribe to the DailyOm and those puppies come in faster than I can contemplate them. I now have about 247 DailyOms sitting patiently in an email folder waiting for me to read them. (Yes, I am well aware of the irony of that, thankyouverymuch.) But every once in awhile, one of the titles catches my eye as being something extremely pertinent to what I am dealing with in life, and yesterday was one of those. The title of the DailyOm was, Underneath the Noise.

We all know that saying, if you want someone’s attention, just whisper. This DailyOm expounded on that somewhat but the sentence that really zapped me between the eyes was this one:

“It is generally true that the more insistent voices in our heads delivering messages that make us feel panicky or afraid are of questionable authority…Their urgency stems from their disconnectedness from the center of our being, and their urgency is what catches our attention.”

How many different ways do I love that? But of course. Bullies always shout the loudest. And they always shout because they are insecure or full of bluster. They are of questionable authority.

Boys and girls, our Internal Editors and Cranky Perfectionists are so damn loud because they know they’re wrong! That is why they are shouting at us; to make up for in volume what they lack in truth.

As I read that last night, those voices yelling at me to be afraid went silent; they shrugged sheepishly and slunk away.

At least for now. I am sure they will be back, but now that I have their secret, it will be even easier to stare them down the next time...


Melanie said...

I always find that fear is like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about, but I'm glad you did. The way you describe it helps put fear into its proper context. After all, isn't it an illusion we all believe to be real? For me, fear is like a bulldog that likes to bark every time I sit down at my computer to write. I have to find it a biscuit or scratch its ears just to get started. I guess you could say that I make friends with it in order to get on, because I'm not going to stop writing.

Becky Levine said...

Oh, Robin, I love this. My current WIP is also my first time with fear--partially, yes, what if THIS book doesn't cut it with the agents, either, but also the fear you're describing--that WHAT am I trying to DO here?! I love your image of those voices as bullies--I know what to do with bullies! :)

Robin L said...

Hi Melanie, I LOVE your description of having to fetch fear a biscuit or give it a scratch behind the ears. Such a terrific way to put it in it's place!

Becky, so glad it resonated with you. It sure was a biggie for me.

dixie said...

Fish with feathers are good. You can eat and get tickled at the same time.

dixie said...

Fish with feathers are good. You can eat and get tickled at the same time.

Cathryn Parry said...

I love this post. Thanks, Robin.