Fear and Writing

I started reading the link ups as soon as we returned from Boston today.  Waited until the kids were fed.  Then fed chocolate, watching television with daddy, dancing around the living room and demanding band aids be placed on them, everywhere.

I could finally comment on some great posts.  Finally, I could start writing my own.

And there is the blank page.  Surely, something fuels me.  I had just written a post about inspiration, the women and moms that amaze and humble me.  Hmm.  Is that all I got?

I imagine that feeling–that burning, tingling impulse to create, to tell a story, to make sense of emotion and madness, to get a laugh.  Where does that come from?  What makes me run past my kids to get the laptop, furiously type notes into my phone in line at Starbucks, scrawl random words into a notebook in the middle of the night?  Why do I sit at the computer late into the early morning knowing I will up with the kids in a few hours?  Insanity?  More than that.  All the beautiful, heartbreaking, hilarious, poetic, human stories I read every day?  The blogs, the poems, short fiction, essays–all that suddenly and thoroughly take my breath away?  Yes. And the writers behind them? Indeed.

And it occurs to me that something else, something darker, primitive, ignoble is there as well.  Something I don’t want to share.  (So I will.)  Something drives us to succeed as writers, to bare our souls to as many people as will see them; to face rejection and worse–to be ignored–so many times.  I recognize that fuel as fear.  Ugly, darling, familiar, pointy fear.

I have some experience in this area.  I know fear of what other people think of me.  I know fear of not being noticed, of not being good enough, of being alone.  I know fear of not having my say, of my story staying silent.  I don’t think I have ever read something fabulous and not thought, “Oh my God, I have to write something that good or better. Right now!”

I told you I didn’t want to share that.  But you should know this about me.  I envy and I wish I could be every writer I admire.  I fear the world of beautiful phrases will be plucked bare like the prettiest flowers.

I love the shadows on a sunny day; I am quick to notice them.  If you read my posts, you know I gravitate toward the broken parts.  I am fueled to write by my fascination with that which, on this divinely created earth, is raw and bruised.  Certainly, I will never work for Hallmark.  But this quiet terror also moves me.  I write to face the ugliest of what I know about myself and my world.

I cannot separate from or deny the fear that drives me.  It fuels my imagination, my admiration for writing, my need to be better.  I was once (always) afraid of writing; I didn’t want my truths to face me on a page.  Surely no one would like me knowing that.  Now my fear keeps me going back to the words, to the dim corners, and to my green affection for the writers whose glorious stories I know and love.

What fuels you?

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16 Responses to Fear and Writing

  1. “To make sense of emotion and madness” — so true. I suppose that is why many of us write. To lay things out in plain words so that we can “see” them more clearly. More often than not, I write to help others who may be experiencing something that I made it out of. If I experienced something, I write about my experiences and things that I have learned from it. I do this to pay it forward so to speak.

  2. Fear of failure (or being ignored, as you said) I think is an underlying theme for all writers. One of my favorite quotes I have hanging at my desk is this:
    “Give yourself the gift of believing you have something important to say.”

    Do this today.

  3. wendy! i love this. i am your sister in darkness (my thesis paper in grad school was called “literature and fear”!), always preferring to write from that same “dim corner,” too. it has taken me years to be able to do this and it’s still hard, but it’s the place that feels most real to me. (though you are braver as i mostly write fiction….) also, i can very much relate to your “green” response to the incredible writing of others. i always know i’ve read something or encountered something truly remarkable when i wish i’d created it myself. it’s something i wish weren’t true about myself but probably something that also makes me human. as for your fear that “the world of beautiful phrases will be plucked bare like the prettiest flowers,” well, you’re proving that wrong with each post, my friend, including that beautiful phrase right there.

  4. you are so great, chloe. how hysterical about your paper’s name! love that we think alike–a little disturbing–but great! ha! thank you for the support. so happy to have you and superhero baby in my twitterverse now!

  5. It’s like you read my mind. Everytime I read an amazing piece of writing, I think why the eff am I even bothering? And then I immediately go write. Because I have to.

  6. I can’t say your alone, because you are not. I do not know if any of us who write would improve our craft or desire to do better if we didn’t read others work, admire it, learn from it and then decide to do improve ours. I also do not know any of us who write that do not dig deep, dig to that dark place. Do we really share with others our true self if we do not look deep inside. It is what connects us to each other. The most meaningful part of this post for me was: “…worse–to be ignored–so many times.” Writing and having no comments is so very difficult.

  7. Kelly says:

    You are fabulous. And you are a very good writer…you wove your words perfectly and conveyed what all of us fear- writing and not having others eyes read. Your truth is the same for all, fear when put in a proper place can be good fuel!

    So glad you linked up! Thank you 🙂

  8. Great post (and I do like the writing too!). A similar thing fuels me, but not fear. I don’t think, anyway. The desire to keep going – to see if I might actually churn out something amazing. I don’t get there often, but I like to try.

    Thanks for linking up with us on Just Be Enough! I love it when people write about writing.

  9. Kim Purcell says:

    I love this post. Beautiful and true.

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