A car slips off a jack and falls, pinning a child underneath. The mother lifts the car so the child can escape.
A mother allows her 9-year-old to ride his bicycle up and down the driveway, but won’t leave the house herself.
The link between these two scenarios?
It isn’t me. I’ve never lived it, never written it, and find it hard to imagine. I feel no impulse, outside of inertia, to lock myself up in my house. Well, as long as I stay away from zombie movies. And I’ve been fortunate enough to never have ¼ ton of metal land on my child. I understand, though, how they both happen. It’s fear.
Like all important things, fear is a blessing and a curse. It pushes us to do improbable things; it sends us cowering. It is a deep, dank, dark place inside of us. Sometimes, if it needs to be explored it requires specialized equipment and trained experts. Yet here we are, we Write Anything contributors, sticking our hands in the dark crevices of our minds, hoping we don’t come across something big and toothy.
What is my greatest fear as a writer? Failure? Rejection? Ignominy? Fear, for me, has so many levels, which have nothing whatsoever to do with actual placement. As I have never done a self-analysis like this before, I’m stuck. I’m stuck with poking my hand into every dark crevice that whispers of writing, and hoping whatever I pull out can’t eat me.
Crevice #1: Apprehension
n. suspicion or fear especially of future evil
The dictionary definition makes the word sound so dire. It’s really a modest word, a small fear of something that might maybe happen. A worry over being late on deadlines one too many times and being asked to step down from something enjoyable. Or something as non-evil as the scolding I should receive from the editor receiving this article almost a week late. My fear, yes. Greatest fear, no.
Crevice #2: Trepidation
Trepidation is a great word. A wonderful word for reflection. At one time it meant purely, simply “fear”. Now it means “fear” but with overtones of hesitation and apprehension. To be honest, I viewed this paper with trepidation. Not because of the topic, but because something that requires so much insight into self, so much reflection on me-as-writer, lands SLAM into a time when I’m spending so much time keeping up in teaching I have no time to remember I’m a writer too.
Crevice #7 Dread
Yes, I skipped a few. Not sure that my anxiety over the dissolution of my spelling skills is relevant here, Nor the jitter-bugs I feel when I first turn a paper in to a reviewer – be that my best friend or my graduate advisor. In interests of keeping to the subject, I jumped agitation, anxiety, fright, and a few other fear-connections, because I releazed the exploration worked.
Describing my way through my crevice-riddled brain, I find the strongest fear is called dread. Seems like it should be terror. Actually, you might be interested in the terror of turning in my first story for an in-person review but, as that’s history, it’s not really relevant either. So I have discovered dread. I dread missing out. If I don’t write, I will miss out on all those stories my brain brews behind the scenes. If I don’t write, I will miss out on all the ways I could become a stronger writer, not to mention a more creative, saner, happier person. I dread not writing. I dread my great-something grandchildren saying “she wasn’t a writer.”
Fear, oh my personal greatest fear, may you become the kind that lifts cars, not the kind that makes me run in terror.
I’m sure someone earlier in the article wondered what specialized equipment and training it takes to examine a writer’s greatest fears. Here’s your answer. Training: Self-examination honed over years wondering whether writing is worth it, combined with some identity-stretching and shifting as we morph into a character for an hour or a year. Equipment: A keyboard, an online dictionary and thesaurus. And chocolate cheesecake.